Acts 1:24

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen Acts 1:24

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). 

With the proposal of either Joseph or Matthias to replace Judas, it now says, “And they prayed and said.” This is not only the apostles, but all of the disciples, as is noted in verse 1:15. Peter had stood up among them all to speak, and that discourse continues now. This certainly would have included the women as it notes that the women were included in prayer in verse 1:14. The entire group is together, the candidates have been set forth, and so now the prayer is given, beginning with, “You, O Lord.”

This is an interesting phrase because it is believed by some to be speaking of Jesus. This is explained by the scholar Olshausen –

“The word ‘Lord,’ placed absolutely, denotes in the New Testament almost universally THE SON; and the words, ‘Show whom Thou hast chosen,’ are decisive. The apostles are just Christ’s messengers: It is He that sends them, and of Him they bear witness. Here, therefore, we have the first example of a prayer offered to the exalted Redeemer; furnishing indirectly the strongest proof of His divinity.”

This is probably correct. It would be appropriate to pray to Jesus. It would would mean the person was selected by Jesus. Obviously, Jesus is God. But the point is that they are appealing to “You, O Lord,” specifically. It is He “who knows the hearts of all.”

The Greek word, kardiognóstés, is used here. It is found only here and in Acts 15:8, and it is not found in any other Greek writers. It is a noun literally meaning “heart knower,” coming from the words kardía, meaning “heart” and ginōskō, signifying to “experientially know.” Thus, God is “the one who knows all the inner workings of every person’s heart, i.e. all their moral preferences (convictions)” (HELPS Word Studies).

As noted, the word is also only found in Acts 15:8 –

“So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:8, 9

There, “God” is said to be the “heart-knower.” But this does not exclude Jesus as such. In fact, in Revelation 2, He explicitly says that He searches hearts –

“I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:23

But this is also said to be something that is accomplished by the Spirit –

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26, 27

Understanding this, we can then go to the Old Testament and see how these things tie together when reading Solomon’s prayer to Yehovah Elohim, or “the Lord God” –

“then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men), 40 that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.” 1 Kings 8:39, 40

What is clearly being revealed is the doctrine of the Trinity. There is one God who has expressed Himself in this Triune manner. Thus, the Lord (Yehovah) of the Old Testament is revealed in Jesus of the New. As such, the prayer is to the Lord (Jesus, who is God) petitioning Him to “show which of these two You have chosen.”

As noted, it is Jesus (the Lord) who selects His apostles (see John 6:70). As such, the appeal is surely made to Jesus that He would select a replacement for Judas accordingly in order to fulfill Scripture.

Life application: An argument for the prayer of this verse having been made to Jesus has been made. That can be argued against based on a prayer found in Acts 4 –

So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” Acts 4:24-30

One could say that this prayer is made to God, calling Him “Lord.” However, the word used in Acts 4:24, despotés, is also used when speaking of Jesus in Jude 1:4. Thus, there is no reason to assume that the apostles are not praying to Jesus – who is God – while praying to God. Whether they had a developed knowledge of the Trinity or not, they knew quite clearly that Jesus is the incarnate Lord (Yehovah).

An argument against the Trinity is that the term itself is not used in Scripture. But that is an argument from silence. The doctrine of original sin is not mentioned, and yet it is taught. The word “rapture” is not found in Scripture, but it is taught. Likewise, the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. And yet, there is one God.

Lord God, Your word is large, and it is complicated at times. But with proper study, we can learn things that are evident, even if they are not openly expressed. Help us to search these treasures out and then to accept them when they are clearly seen. May our doctrine be pure and may our understanding of You be proper. Amen.