Acts 1:16

Monday, 11 October 2021

“Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; Acts 1:16

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen). 

In the previous verse, Peter stood to speak. His words now commence with, “Men and brethren.” It is a single address in the Greek signifying “brother-men.” Simply saying “brothers” would get the point across in our modern speech. In this, he is addressing those with him in a personal, friendly manner. With the tone set, he then says, “this Scripture had to be fulfilled.”

Understanding that there was no New Testament at the time, the only thing the people had to rely on for their knowledge of the workings of God in Christ was the Hebrew Scriptures, now our Old Testament. What Peter is referring to has two parts to it. The first is that of Judas’ betrayal, something he will not cite, but which had already been cited by Jesus in John 13 –

“I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ 19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.” John 13:18, 19

Jesus’ words are a quote from the 41st Psalm –

“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9

Though Peter doesn’t cite this, it can be inferred that he is referring to it. Later, he will cite more Scripture to show what must be done in order to replace the traitor. For now, Peter is reminding the brethren that what occurred was a part of the plan of God, even if Judas willingly set out to do what he did. That is evidenced in the next words, saying, “which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David.”

David, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit (see 2 Peter 1:19-21), prophesied what would occur concerning Judas’ interactions with the Messiah. This in no way means that the psalm written by David wasn’t something that pertained directly to him as well. David was betrayed, he was disturbed in his heart over his betrayal, and he wrote a psalm to the Lord about what happened. And yet, the words prophetically anticipate what would happen to the Messiah also. Such dual meaning in Scripture occurs constantly –

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” Exodus 1:5, 6


“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-4

Real events of the past, as recorded in Scripture, are given as types and pictures of the coming Messiah, of His work, and of the effects of His work – both for Israel and for the church. These events are often so precise that they can identify the interactions of a single person. As Peter next says, “concerning Judas.”

God, who created time and who is outside of time, knows everything that will ever happen. He knew that Judas would betray Christ Jesus, and He allowed David’s words to become a part of what would be realized in that betrayal. This, however, does not mean that God is responsible for what occurred. Foreknowledge does not, by default, mean “prearranging.” We can know that a clock will ring at a certain time, and it does. And yet, we may have had nothing to do with it happening.

In 1 Samuel 22, David said –

“I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house. 23 Stay with me; do not fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe.” 1 Samuel 22:22, 23

David understood the character of Doeg and that he would tell Saul what David did. Doeg then killed 85 of the priests of the Lord. If David had killed Doeg, he would have been a murderer. But in not killing him, the priests died. Despite David’s knowledge concerning Doeg, he could not be blamed for the murder of the priests, even if he felt bad about what occurred.

This is a simple example of a man with intuition concerning a matter. Considering God, whose knowledge is infinite, what occurs is known to Him, but it does not mean that He prearranged the good or evil that occurs. He simply knows the logical outcome and uses it in accord with His will to continue His work within the stream of time. Judas is solely to blame for his actions. It is he “who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.”

The events surrounding what Judas did are recorded in the gospels, specifically in Matthew 26:14 and 47-56, Mark 14:10 and 43-50, Luke 22:3-6 and 47-53, and John 13:18-30 and 18:1-11. Reading these accounts, one can see that the comments of John Gill are correct when he says, “so that he was not only a guide as to the way, but was a director, and conductor, and manager of the whole affair.”

Life application: The events recorded concerning the deeds of Judas are evidence of the state of free will in man. God does not force His will upon man. When it says in Exodus, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 7:3), it is perfectly clear from the account that this was done passively, not actively. The Lord arranged events to occur that caused Pharaoh to harden his own heart.

For example, Moses was told to throw down his rod before Pharaoh. In doing so, it became a serpent. However, Pharaoh’s own men did the same. In this, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened towards the power of the Lord. In the next instance, Moses was told to strike the waters of the Nile and they would turn to blood. He did and they did. But it says that Egypt’s magicians did the same with their enchantments. As a result, it specifically says, “and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard” (Exodus 7:22). The hardening was passively accomplished by the Lord. Pharaoh, not the Lord, is to blame for his actions.

The Lord knew the character of the man, He knew what man would do, and He used the circumstances to continue to reveal His glory –

“Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Exodus 9:15, 16

This doctrine of free will is essential to a right relationship with God. Without it, man would be nothing more than an automaton, doing the bidding of the Lord without any true sense of fellowship, love, fear, awe, admiration, and so on. And this is a key and principal part of salvation as well. One false doctrine espoused within the church, part of the teaching known as Calvinism (after John Calvin), says that man does not have free will to choose God.

Rather, it teaches that man is first regenerated by God (he is “born again”), and then he chooses God and is saved. In other words, he is saved before he is saved. It is a confused theology that has no basis in Scripture. The free will of man is taught from the first pages of the Bible until the last pages of the Bible. Nowhere is it taught that man does not choose Christ. Rather, it is explicitly or implicitly stated throughout Scripture, including John 3:16 –

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

God reveals, God offers, and God expects a response. If you disagree, that is your choice. God gave you free will to do so.

Lord God, thank You for the offer of salvation that is found in the giving of Your Son for us. All You ask us to do is to believe the simple message of salvation, the gospel. In accepting that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, we are sealed with Your Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our salvation. Thank You for this simple and glorious path to eternity with You. Amen.