Tuesday, 28 September 2021
to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3
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The words now, speaking of Christ Jesus, begin by referring back to “the apostles whom He had chosen” of the previous verse. These words say, “to whom He also presented Himself.” The word translated as “presented” is a compound verb coming from a word signifying “close beside” and another meaning “to stand.” It was used in Luke 1:9, for example, when speaking of Gabriel “who stands” in the presence of God.
In other words, this wasn’t a vision. It wasn’t just that they saw Jesus afar off. It wasn’t that someone said, “I saw Jesus hovering above me.” Rather, He was physically there before the apostles. This destroys the Jehovah’s Witnesses argument that Jesus was resurrected as a “spirit being.” It is a false and heretical teaching.
And more, He “presented Himself alive.” Christ Jesus died on the cross. This was clearly witnessed by those who stood and watched the event. His body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. The tomb was closed. The tomb was sealed. The tomb was guarded. But Christ rose –
“He is risen!” Mark 16:6
It was in this resurrected state of Christ that He presented Himself to the apostles. This is the foundational truth upon which all of Christianity stands or falls. The physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is what allows the faith to continue from generation to generation in a state of hope that cannot be extinguished. If the story is not true, or if it is not believed, there would be no hope of glory for the people of God. Hence, there would be no “people of God.”
However, Christ rose and was seen alive “after His suffering.” There was no mix-up in the timing of events. There was no misremembering of the chronology of what occurred. Christ ministered to the people of Israel. On a particular night, He shared a meal with His apostles. He spoke of His suffering to come and of the initiation of a New Covenant in His blood. He went with them to the Mount of Olives and withdrew from them to pray.
At this time, He truly began His suffering as Luke carefully records –
“And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44
It was there He was arrested and taken through a long night/morning of abuse. Eventually, He was tried and sentenced to be crucified. In His crucifixion, He died. Upon His death, He was placed in the tomb. The chronology of events was carefully detailed. After all of these events concerning His suffering, He presented Himself alive “by many infallible proofs.”
The word translated as “infallible proofs” is found only here in Scripture, tekmérion. It signifies a marker, as in a signpost. Thus, it is something that marks itself off as unmistakable or irrefutable.
Ruckman goes into great lengths to argue that there is some type of plot to undermine the truth of the resurrection by changing the translation from “irrefutable proofs” to things like “proofs,” “convincing proofs,” and so on. He does this by citing the Douay-Rheims Version of 1582 that uses the words “many arguments.” Thus, supposedly demonstrating that this was an intentional manipulation to deny the truth of the “infallible proofs.”
The ridiculous nature of this argument is seen in that earlier English Bibles, like the Wycliffe and Tyndale versions, used the word “tokens.” The first Bible to use “irrefutable proofs” is the Geneva Bible that comes after (not before) the 1582 Douay-Rheims. Ruckman then says, “Plato, Aristotle, and Lysias used it for a convincing, sure, certain, demonstrative proof.”
In this, Ruckman uses one of the very words he just argued against, convincing, in his attempt to diminish the work of other translators. This type of niggling over minutiae is a distraction from the overall intent of the words which is clearly that Jesus was “seen by them.” Everything about the surrounding context clearly demonstrates that Jesus was resurrected in a bodily form. This is a huge problem within the church, arguing for single translations that one is familiar with or “agrees with more,” when the point of what is said is clearly expressed in the larger context of the passage.
Concerning Jesus in this passage, in His presentation of Himself, there could be no doubt that it was Him. He was able to remind them of His own words telling them what would occur. He was able to demonstrate from their own prophetic writings that the things they saw would happen and that He would then enter into His glory. He was able to talk to them about intimate details of their time together that no deceiver could know.
The evidence was certain, convincing, infallible, and it was irrefutable. Luke’s research of the events left him with no doubt as to the veracity of their claims. They saw Christ Jesus die in the most brutal manner possible, and then they saw Him alive again. But more, Luke records that He was “being seen by them during forty days.”
The Greek reads “through forty days.” This is the only time this interval of time is recorded, but it is an important point to make. It wasn’t just that these men saw Christ, or rather “thought they saw Christ” in a mass hallucination, once or twice during a gathering to mourn Him.
Rather, they saw Him over forty days in various locations and in various ways. The “infallible proofs” continued to heap up as He interacted with them. There are more than a dozen times that the Lord is recorded to have appeared. Each interaction brought more surety to the truth that He was victorious over death. During those appearances through this forty-day period, Luke notes that He was “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
The idea here is that a plan that had already been developed was now revealed to them. However, His words left them with still unanswered questions about how things would be in various aspects. This is certain, based on the coming words of verse 1:6. Christ spoke of the kingdom of God, which was to be built on who He is, what He did, and what it meant for the people of the world. The apostles, although obviously understanding this to some extent, still misunderstood aspects of what would occur as well.
Of this kingdom of God, the apostles, including Paul, who would only later be included in its development, is referred to throughout Acts and the epistles. The same “kingdom of God” is spoken of by Peter, such as in 2 Peter 1, and by Paul, such as in Ephesians 5:5. In Acts, Philip preached of it in Acts 8:12, and Peter and John confirmed it later in the chapter. Paul, likewise, refers to it again and again in Acts.
Understanding this, there is one – and only one – kingdom of God that is variously referred to by these men. This kingdom is based solely on the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the focus of what occurs, and it is something that even the Old Testament Scriptures testified to. It is expressed to both Jew and Gentile, and it is based on the single gospel message that was preached by both Peter and Paul (as well as all of the apostles – see 1 Corinthians 15:11) –
“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.” Acts 28:23, 24
“‘Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!’ 29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.
30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” Acts 28:28-31
Life application: The commentaries set forth in this study of the book of Acts will warn you from time to time of the heresy of hyperdispensationalism. It is an insidious teaching that divides the kingdom of God into two separate entities that are based on two separate gospels – one to the Jew and one to the Gentile. It destroys the typology of the Old Testament for the Gentile believers by saying those things only apply to Jewish thinking. It removes the church from the blessings, admonitions, and warnings of the book of Revelation – spoken by Jesus Christ to the people of the world.
Be wise and understanding concerning the state of Israel. The Jews must come to saving faith in Jesus Christ individually in order to be saved. However, God still has a plan for national Israel that is based on His covenant promises to them as a people. Salvation of national Israel is something that will occur after the church age, and it is something that will occur when the same prophetic words of the Old Testament that refer to Christ, and that were spoken of by Paul to the Gentiles in Acts 28 (above), will be accepted by the nation of Israel collectively.
In keeping the categories straight, heresies such as this will be understood for what they are, and they will be avoided.
Lord God, how good it is to know that our hope in Christ Jesus is grounded in the certainty of those who beheld Him after His resurrection. We don’t need to fret if this was just a single mass hallucination of a group of demented people. Rather, it is a well-documented set of events that happened at various times and in various places, and which included a great number of first-hand witnesses. Thank You for the surety we possess as we continue in the faith we profess. Amen.