« 上一頁繼續 »
voice to God with one accord, and said Lord, or, - Sovereign Lord,” thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is ;
This verse, which is descriptive of the divine power, is a very proper introduction to a petition for the extension of miraculous gifts, which shortly succeeds, and should be connected in our minds with the thirtieth verse, in which the disciples pray that God would stretch forth his hand to heal, and that signs and wonders might be done in the name of his holy servant Jesus. For there can be no doubt that the Being who created the heavens and the earth, that is, who established the course of nature, can change it for these purposes whenever he pleases.
25. Who, by the mouth of thy servant David, has said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things ?
26. The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Christ, “ against his anointed.”
These words are taken exactly from the Septuagint translation of the second Psalm, which some persons consider as applicable to David, by whom it was composed, since he was God's anointed, having been designed for the throne of Israel, by Samuel, by pouring out oil in a solemn manner upon his head; and several of the neighbouring nations, the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and others, attempted to disturb the peace of his kingdom, and to destroy his authority, although without success. This language they therefore regard as a poetical remonstrance with them on the weaknes and folly of their attempt. By the apostles and first christians, however, the Psalm seems to have been regarded as a prophecy of the Messiah; and these verses in particular are considered as referring to the opposition which he would meet with from the Jews and Roman people, and especially from their governors.
27. For, of a truth, against thy holy child, "thy holy servant,” Jesus whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together in this city :*
28. For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
The Jewish kings were appointed to their office by having oil poured out upon their heads, and were from this circumstance called the anointed, and the Lord's anointed. As Jesus of Nazareth was designed in the divine counsels, to be a most distinguished prince, although only in a spiritual kingdom, he was called
* Ev on TONEL TAUTH. Griesbach.
the Messiah, or the anointed, by way of eminence, although he never underwent the ceremony before-mentioned. This appellation, Messiah, is translated by the word Christ into Greek. Against this prince appointed by God to his office, Herod and Pilate, and the Jews, we are here told, conspired to deprive him of his dignity; but their conspiracy proved ineffectual, as had been foretold; for they only inflicted upon him those calamities and sufferings which God had before determined to permit, for the purpose of more effectually exalting him to the high office for which he was designed.
29. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness, “ with all freedom of speech,” they may speak thy word ;
30. By stretching forth thy hand to heal : and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy servant Jesus.
It seems as if some of the disciples had been alarmed at the threats of the Jewish council, and feeling some doubts about their own courage to preach the gospel in the face of such danger, had prayed to God to have it strengthened, by being enabled to perform such cures as that which had been just wrought upon the lame man, and to work other wonders. Hence, it appears probable, that although all the disciples had the gift of tongues, and the apostles, John and Peter, the power of healing diseases, the rest were not assured, that the same power would be commuuicated to them. Without this assistance, they were apprehensive that their resolution would fail; but so aided, they were convinced that they should be able to face all their adversaries. To confirm their expectations, and remove their fears, God was pleased to favour them with a sign, which is mentioned in the following verse. In the twenty-seventh and thirtieth verses, Christ is called, by our translators, God's holy child; but the proper translation is, undoubtedly, that which has been given, thy holy servant, as appears from the twenty-fifth verse, where they themselves have so rendered the word, calling David God's servant, although the same term be used in the original in that, as in other places.
31. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together.
This supernatural earthquake seems to have been intended as a signal, to announce the approach of the Deity, for the communication of miraculous powers, just as the noise of the mighty rushing wind, and the cloven tongues of fire, preceded the gift of tongues, on the day of Pentecost. In the present instance, however, there was no visible appearance; nor does it seem that any other miraculous effect immediately followed. What we are told about their being all filled with the Holy Spirit, I regard as referring rather to powers which afterwards appeared, than to any sensible change which took place immediately. They might, indeed, be naturally supposed to be communicated at this moment. What the disciples prayed for was a miraculous power to heal and to perform other wonders as the means of establishing their faith in the gospel. When they found themselves possessed of these powers, by exercising them, and not before, they acquired the confidence which they wished for. Their boldness was not itself supernatural but founded upon reflection, and sprang from a consciousness of possessing extraordinary faculties, which were plain marks of the approbation and patronage of Heaven.
And they were all filled the Holy Spirit, and delivered the word of God with freedom of speech.
32. And the multitude of them that believed, that is, the five thousand, were of one heart and one soul, were of one and the same spirit, and loved each other as themselves, neither regarded any of them the things which he possessed as his own, but they had all things common.
This strong, mutual affection was the natural result of entertaining the same sentiments, of a common feeling of gratitude to God for this high favour, and perhaps, most of all, of observing that all were partakers of the same miraculous gifts, and therefore alike the objects of divine regard. The voluntary division of property arose from this affection, and in part, probably, from that new plan of life which now opened upon them, and to which they intended to devote themselves in future; that of preaching the gospel. This was henceforth to become their great object, and not the accumulation of wealth. In these instances they acted like the former converts, of whom we have an account in the second chapter.
33. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
They gave testimony to his resurrection, not only by words, but likewise by miracles performed in his name, and by powers derived professedly from him, and which were therefore a proof that he was alive; for God cannot give evidence in support of a falsehood.
And great grace was upon them all, or, 6 great favour was towards them all.”
The extraordinary powers which they appeared to possess, the beneficent cures which they wrought, and their liberality to each other, raised the disciples very high in the estimation of many, who had not yet embraced their sentiments.
34. Neither was there any among them that lacked : for as many as were possessors of lands or
houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35. And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
The choice which Jesus had made of these twelve persons to be the companions of his life, and the witnesses of his resurrection, pointed them out as fit for having this trust committed to them; and they showed themselves worthy of the trust, by distributing to every one as he had need. This implies, that not a few of the first proselytes were poor ; otherwise there would have been no occasion for this kind of assistance. But it shows, at the same time, that they were not all of that description, there being many persons of property among them.
36. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation) à Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
37. Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
It is not easy to say why Barnabas is more particularly noticed in this place, than another disciple : whether it is because he was the first who set the example, because he was a Levite, and such an act of liberality was not to be expected from him, or because his estate was larger than any other disposed of in this way, or for all these reasons united. From the name which the apostles gave him, “Son of Consolation," it seems evident that he bore a distinguished part in this charity. The Levites, although they had no land allotted them as a tribe in the division of Canaan, yet might purchase individually in any part of the country. His having land to dispose of, therefore, is not at all inconsistent with his character as a Levite.
1. The pleasing description here given us of the temper and conduct of the first professors of the gospel, is well calculated to strengthen our faith in its divine origin. They appear to be men of unfeigned piety; for when threatened with danger, instead of fleeing from it, they address themselves to God in a prayer, which was the spontaneous effusion of a devout mind. Their piety too, is not enthusiastic and rapturous, like that of some modern devotees; but it is perfectly calm and rational. From the character of the Deity, as the creator and governor of the universe, they justly infer his ability to alter or suspend the course of nature. When they ask for aid to their courage, they look not for an answer to their petitions by an unaccountable and irresistible impulse upon their minds, but for a confirmation of their faith by natural and adequate means, by being enabled to work miracles. They are not men of interested characters, who had worldly emoluments in view in the profession which they assumed; for their first acquaintance with Christianity is accompanied with the sale of their lands and houses, and with a division of their property among the poor. Judge now, whether such men are likely to deceive the world; whether those who have the justest apprehensions of the power and supremacy of the Deity would knowingly assert a falsehood in his name, and hereby expose themselves to his displeasure; whether men of pure and rational devotion are likely to be filled with imaginary notions of inspiration; whether men of the most disinterested and the warmest benevolence could be disposed to propagate a pernicious lie, for the sake of gain; or whether the belief of such men in the events of the gospel history, and their declaring them with boldness in the midst of the strongest opposition and the greatest danger, does not furnish irresistible evidence of their truth ?
3. Let us endeavour to imitate the temper of these first Christians, in esteeming the good things of this life of little value, when compared with spiritual benefits. No sooner are they acquainted with the hopes of the gospel, and enjoy the honour of miraculous powers, than they learn to regard what they most esteemed before, and made the great object of their pursuit, as perfectly worthless, and are ready to distribute it among such of their Christian friends as had need of it. Such also was the temper of Paul, who esteemed all things but loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his lord ; and such will be the temper of all who have imbibed the genuine spirit of Christianity. Let us, my brethren, examine ourselves by this test.
1. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2. And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
By appearing to dispose of his property, and to put the price, into the hands of the apostles, for the benefit of the disciples,