Acts 13:33

Quote about Vermont. Vermont State Capitol.

Friday, 13 January 2023

“God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’
Acts 13:33

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary 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).

Paul just proclaimed to those at the synagogue, “And we declare to you glad tidings.” He then went on to say, “that promise which was made to the fathers.” With that, he now explains his words, saying, “God has fulfilled this.”

The word he uses is found only here in Scripture, ekpléroó. It means more than just fulfilled, but that it is completely fulfilled in every detail. In other words, God made promises that were to be realized in the coming of the Messiah. In the sending of Jesus, they are not just fulfilled here or there, but entirely. He is the fulfillment of every messianic expectation that God had laid before His people. Understanding this, Paul continues with, “for us their children.”

The Greek is very precise and emphatic. It reads, “to the children of them, to us.” Some manuscripts say, “to our children.” As such, it seems that one of the scribes attempted to align Paul’s words with those of Peter when he spoke to those in Jerusalem –

“For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Of this change, Cambridge rightly says, “…this weakens the language greatly, for what the audience whom St Paul addressed would desire was a fulfilment for themselves. Their children would inherit what they received, but a promise to be fulfilled to their children would not move them so much as one of which they were to be sharers themselves.”

The focus is on the fulfillment of the promises by Jesus and that it is now available to be appropriated by the people of Israel. This is confirmed in Paul’s next words, saying, “in that He has raised up Jesus.” The KJV adds in the word “again” in this clause, saying, “in that he hath raised up Jesus again.”

The reason they appear to have done this is probably that it puts the focus on the resurrection rather than the incarnation. In other words, Jesus was “raised up” by God at the incarnation. He was then “raised up” by God again at the resurrection. However, by not italicizing the word “again,” the KJV translators have illegally added to Scripture a presupposition, even if that presupposition may be correct. The translation is therefore not acceptable.

With that noted, Paul will next go to the Hebrew Scriptures to demonstrate that what he is saying is something that was anticipated in the coming of Jesus. The messianic expectations are fulfilled in His resurrection.

Concerning that thought, Albert Barnes rightly states, “He does not say that every part of the promise had reference to his resurrection; but his being raised up completed or perfected the fulfillment of the promises which had been made respecting him.” That is validated next in Paul’s citation from Scripture. To introduce the thought, he starts off by saying, “As it is also written in the second Psalm.”

Here, some manuscripts simply say, “in the first Psalm.” Cambridge explains the variation, saying, “What we now call the first psalm was formerly regarded as an introduction to the whole and not counted in the numbering. The quotation which follows is, according to the present order of the Psalms, taken from Psalm 2:7.”

Either way, the ordering of the psalms as they are now laid out goes back to an undetermined time in antiquity. It has remained in that state since. The actual quotation of Paul says, “You are My Son.”

Paul indicates that the Father/Son relationship referred to in the psalm is a messianic expectation. Someone may attempt to deny that, but the other words of the psalm confirm that it is so. In Acts 4, Peter cites the psalm while speaking to the people of Israel, clearly presenting it as a messianic psalm. And more, it was understood that way by the people when Peter cited it. Therefore, it was to be taken as an axiom that Paul’s citing of these words was messianic as well. With that, he continues with, “Today I have begotten You.”

Albert Barnes poignantly notes concerning these words –

“It is evident that Paul uses the expression here as implying that the Lord Jesus is called the Son of God because he raised him up from the dead, and that he means to imply that it was for this reason that he is so called. This interpretation of an inspired apostle fixes the meaning of this passage in the psalm, and proves that it is not there used with reference to the doctrine of eternal generation, or to his incarnation, but that he is called his Son because he was raised from the dead.”

He may be correct in this, although the words “raised up” in this verse may speak of the entire earthly life of Jesus from incarnation through resurrection. That will be explored further in Acts 13:37.

Despite that, and even if Barnes is correct, this does not negate the Sonship of Jesus as defined through either eternal generation or the incarnation. It is simply a point of Sonship that is derived from the resurrection. Paul states this elsewhere as well –

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:1-4

When the Lord spoke out the Psalm, He declared “Today.” It is an affirmation that the event was proclaimed and thus it was so. Christ Jesus is the Son of God, but the affirmation points to resurrection which confirms that it is so. He is the Son within the Trinity. He is the Son through the incarnation.

The resurrection proves that these things are so because only the Lord (Yehovah) could accomplish those things necessary to fulfill the Law of Moses. And more, only the Lord Jesus was first born without sin, meaning that God is His Father and that He is the God/Man. Though these things were already true, the resurrection proves that they are so. No other man could resurrect as He did. As Peter said in Acts 2 –

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Acts 2:22-24

It is not possible that a man bearing sin could resurrect. Likewise, it was not possible that a sinless Man could be held by death. This is what Paul is now conveying to the people in the synagogue.

As a point of theology, for those who are in Christ, the sin debt has been paid. We are now deemed sinless before God. As such, it is not possible that death can hold Christ’s redeemed.

Life application: Regardless of the intent of the KJV translators concerning the addition of the word “again” as noted above, it is not their place to do this without noting that it is an added word. Their failure to italicize that word after adding it into Scripture has changed the word of God. If they felt there needed to be clarity, that is what italicizing additions is for.

Further, that is the purpose of Bible commentaries. They are given to explain what is going on in Scripture, clarify difficult passages, etc. Translators are not given this right unless they clearly identify words they have added to Scripture. Without doing this, their presuppositions replace the word of God as it has been given.

This is something the Jehovah’s Witnesses have done in verses, such as Colossians 1:16, in their failed New World Translation. It is inappropriate, and it is the mark of a poor translation. In this case, the King James Version has perfectly failed to give a suitable rendering of the Greek. But this is not unique to that translation. It is often sloppy, inconsistent, contradictory, and just plain wrong.

Be careful to read many translations as you study the Bible. It is fine to read the Bible and enjoy the poetic nature of what is written. And this is often the case with an archaic translation like the KJV because it is soft on the ears. But that does not mean the theology to be derived from the translation is correct. So be on guard and diligently study the word.

A small error like the one noted above will not lead you down a false path, but it is nonetheless an illicit addition. If you read the KJV, be sure to annotate this in the margin. And be sure to read other, better, translations as well to get a fuller understanding of what God’s word says.

Lord God, we can know Your word is true through a careful study of it. Although there are things we may not understand, we can still have faith that those things that are difficult have a suitable resolution, even if we have not yet found it. Thank You for Your precious word. Help us to contemplate it all our days and to grow in our knowledge of You through it. Amen.