Acts 15:8

Some building in the area of the Virginia Capitol.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

“So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, Acts 15:8

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).

The translation of the NKJV is far enough off that it is not sufficient for analysis. The words are better translated, “And the heart-knowing God bore witness to them, having given the Holy Spirit as also us” (CG). This will be used for the analysis.

It is Peter speaking in his final words of the book of Acts, having arisen to address the issue of law observance for the Gentiles. Peter had just said, “that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.” With that, he now continues, saying, “And the heart-knowing God.”

It is a noun used for the second and last time in Scripture, kardiognóstés. It is not found among 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).

Peter’s words reflect those of Paul’s later writings concerning the reception of the gospel –

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:8-10

It is God who looks upon the heart, knowing whether the word that has been heard truly was accepted or not. Further, it is the heart-knowing God who “bore witness to them.”

God was in the room with Peter, evaluating the hearts of those who were listening to his words concerning Jesus. At that time, Peter gave them the gospel concerning Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection –

“And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.” Acts 10:39-41

The burial is implied in the words “arose from the dead.” As such, it is exactly the same gospel message that Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15 –

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by [a]Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

With that, Peter then clearly states how God bore them witness, saying, “having given the Holy Spirit.” The Gentiles listening to Peter were given the gospel. They heard, they believed, and they received. This is exactly what Paul will say occurs with Gentiles after hearing the exact same gospel –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14

With that, Peter states a note to confirm that what was presented to the Gentiles, and how it was received, is exactly the same as to the Jews. He finishes the thought with, “as also us.” It is the exact same idea that Paul will say in 1 Corinthians 15 –

“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” 1 Corinthians 15:9-11

Life application: There is one gospel, not two. The gospel that Peter (and all the apostles) proclaimed is the same gospel that Paul proclaimed. To say otherwise is heretical. Don’t be a heretic. Accept and then go forth proclaiming the one and only gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Lord God, help us to never be lured into heretical doctrines taught by unschooled, perverse, or manipulating people. May we hold fast to what is right and proper, glorifying You through how we conduct our lives in Your presence. And may we be willing to share this good news with all who come our way. To Your glory! Amen.