Acts 2:23

Saturday, 13 November 2021

Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; Acts 2:23

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).

Peter now gets to the point concerning the error of the Jews in what has occurred. He just noted that Christ was “attested by God” because of the “miracles, wonders, and signs” that He accomplished. This is something that they were all perfectly well aware of. In fact, this is what the two men on the road to Emmaus poignantly asked of the Lord after His resurrection as they walked –

“And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’
18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’|
19 And He said to them, ‘What things?’
So they said to Him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.’” Luke 24:17-24

Calling the Lord a “stranger” was a way of saying, “It’s the only explanation for you to not know these things.” As this is so, the men of Israel were perfectly well aware of the ministry of the Lord, and yet Peter next directly says to them, “Him, being delivered.”

This is referring to Christ. The word translated as “being delivered” is an adjective. A more literal rendering would be “betrayed.” Hence, “Him, betrayed…” This is the explanation for what occurred. The word is connected to the coming words “you have taken,” not to the words “by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.”

In other words, the betrayal was by the Jewish people. It wasn’t just that Christ got caught up in circumstances that ended in His death, but that He was purposefully given over by Israel. Despite this, Peter notes that this occurred “by the determined purpose.”

The word “determined” is translated from the Greek word horizó. One can see the root of the word “horizon.” Being a verb, it signifies “to set limits on.” There was an eternal purpose of God that set the boundaries for what would occur because God had ordained it to be so. The word is used again in Acts 17:26 where the meaning is clearly explained from the text –

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”

As such, the process of redemption was certainly the result of the “foreknowledge of God.” Here is a new word in Scripture, prognósis. One can see the obvious connection to our modern word of the same spelling. God’s foreknowledge allows Him to set the boundaries for all things to work out in accord with His redemptive plans. With that understood, Peter now states the words that are connected to the idea of being “betrayed” as noted above. He says, “you have taken.”

Here is a word used only once in Scripture, ekdotos. It is an adjective in the singular. Hence, it more appropriately reads, “[man] delivered.” In other words, it is referring to Jesus. With that understood, the NKJV next reads, “by lawless hands.”

The translation is incorrect. It says, “by hand lawless.” The word “hand” is singular. The guilt of the nation is highlighted in these words. It doesn’t matter if every person standing there had done this. Nor does it matter today, two thousand years later, that none of the people now alive were there. The guilt is national guilt. Hence, Peter’s words are addressed to all.

Further, the word “lawless” is precisely translated. It signifies “without law.” At times, it is rendered “ungodly.” What occurred was a lawless act by the hand of the people. They had the law. The law clearly speaks of Jesus (see John 5:39 and 5:46). Thus, the delivering up of Jesus was a lawless act. As such, guilt is imputed because of it. There can be no forgiveness of the act apart from the atonement process.

What is evident is that the believers did have their guilt atoned for. This is clearly substantiated by the pouring out of the Spirit upon them. As the others did not, it means that their guilt remained unatoned for. Peter will explain to them how this can happen, and he will do it by referring to both an individual (e.g., Acts 2:38) and a national (e.g., Acts 3:19-26) atonement. Of this lawless hand, Peter next says, “have crucified.”

Again, Peter uses a word found only here in Scripture, prospégnumi. It signifies “to fasten to” and it refers to the act of nailing (fastening) Christ to the cross. The word is in the plural signifying that each person (you all) bears the guilt. Even if it was only Roman soldiers who took the hammer and nail and fastened Christ to the cross, each person was responsible for that having come about.

The guilt is national and it is all-encompassing. From the oldest man to the newborn baby, the nation bears the guilt. Remember, Peter is a Jew speaking to his people. He is not so much making an accusation as he is stating a point of fact. Again, this is obvious because the disciples who received the Spirit are a part of this body. And yet, they are set apart to God because of their belief in the work Christ accomplished. With that understood, it is exactly Christ’s work that allowed for them to receive the Spirit. As Peter says, “and put to death.”

The crucifixion led to the death. But the death is because of the crucifixion, and the crucifixion was because the people had fastened Christ to the cross. Everything is tied up in this act, including the atonement of those who believed.

Hebrews says that “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” The fact that those who followed Christ had received the Spirit signifies that their guilt was remitted. The fact that those who had not followed Christ had not received the Spirit means that their guilt remained. The only difference between the two is the disciples’ faith in Christ. As such, it demonstrates that Christ’s death was an atoning sacrifice for sin. The guilt is removed through faith in His work. This will continue to be seen as the narrative unfolds.

Life application: As seen in the evaluation of this verse, though it is not explicitly stated, the blood atonement of Christ is clearly evidenced in the words of Peter. Those who deny this and who claim that Peter never referred to blood atonement (hyperdispensationalism) are clearly mistaken. One does not need to explicitly state a point of doctrine for it to be understood.

The doctrine of original sin is never explicitly stated in Scripture. The word “Trinity” is never stated in Scripture. And the word “rapture” is never explicitly stated. However, all three of these doctrines are clearly implied. Such is the case with the blood atonement of Christ in Peter’s words. There are those who stand forgiven and who received the Spirit. There are those whose guilt remains, and they did not. The only difference between the two is faith in the work of Christ.

There is one gospel. To say there are two is a heresy. Don’t be a heretic. Accept the one gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved from the wrath of God that is to come upon the world.

Glorious, almighty, and most wonderful Lord God – thank You for having sent Christ Jesus to die for our sins. Thank You for the sealing of the Spirit that comes when we believe that it is so. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.