Sunday, 14 November 2021
whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. Acts 2:24
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 has been describing the work of Christ, including His crucifixion and death. With that noted, he now notes the second half of this greatest combined event in human history. There was the cross-death and there was the triumph over it. Peter says, “whom God raised up.”
The resurrection isn’t just an event where God bypassed the normal course of human events. Nor was it a miracle of restoring life, such as occurred with those Jesus brought back from death as is recorded in the gospels. It was the necessary and logical outcome for Jesus, as will be explained. For now, the words, “whom God raised up,” are referring to the working of each member of the Godhead. Paul states in Romans –
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
However, Jesus had already referred to His own hand in the resurrection in John –
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17, 18
And yet, Paul again ascribes the resurrection to the Holy Spirit in Romans 8 –
“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:9-11
In these and other verses, we are shown that each member of the Godhead participated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was this immense and intentional power of God that was directed to bring the human body of Christ back to life, as Peter says, “having loosed the pains of death.”
The word translated as “loosed” signifies exactly that. When a donkey or ox is untied, it is loosed. When laces are untied on one’s shoes, they are loosed. Jesus said that “the Scripture cannot be broken” in John 10:35. It is firmly bound, and it remains binding. Death is a bind upon human beings. When the body dies, the soul is left bound in that state. Without an external force, it cannot be unloosed.
But even before death, the soul is bound to death. The animation of the body is not a permanent thing. Rather it continues until the body dies, but the binding of the soul does not change. This is evidenced in Christ’s reanimation of the bodies of the son of the widow of Nain recorded in Luke 7. It is evidenced in His raising of Lazarus in John 11. Such instances of restoring the body to life were not permanent as it is understood that both eventually died again. If they didn’t, they would be a sensation wherever they traveled to, even to this day.
The reason these things are true is because, as Paul says in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” What this is clearly and unambiguously saying is that human beings die as payment for sin. It is the earned wage of it. But this then is understood to include every human at every age, and thus the Bible implicitly refers to the doctrine of “original sin.” This is explained by Paul in Romans 5:18 –
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation.”
It is explicitly stated by David in the 51st Psalm –
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” Psalm 51:5, 6
This is why when babies die, they do not resurrect. And it is why child sacrifice is so abhorrent to God. The sin of our first father, Adam, has been transmitted to all human beings because the human species has a terminal infection in it. That infection is passed from father to child, and it ultimately ends in the death of the body. But that infection is tied to the soul which is bound to the sin of Adam, and which separates man from God. Christ Jesus came to correct this in human beings.
It is in this work of God in Christ that the “pains of death” are loosed. Vincent’s Word Studies explains the word translated as “pains,” saying –
“The meaning is disputed. Some claim that Peter followed the Septuagint mistranslation of Psalm 18:5, where the Hebrew word for snares is rendered by the word used here, pains; and that, therefore, it should be rendered snares of death; the figure being that of escape from the snare of a huntsman. Others suppose that death is represented in travail, the birth-pangs ceasing with the delivery; i.e., the resurrection. This seems to be far-fetched, though it is true that in classical Greek the word is used commonly of birth-throes. It is better, perhaps, on the whole, to take the expression in the sense of the A. V., and to make the pains of death stand for death generally.”
Whatever the sense of the word, the pains center on death, and the loosing of death is the key point to consider. But this is only speaking of the physical body of Christ, as will be explained. For now, and with that understanding, Peter remarkably tells his audience that the pains of death were loosed from Him “because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”
This is the key point of the entire outcome of the birth, life, and death of Christ. But it must be understood from what has already been stated.
Abraham was given the covenant of circumcision in Genesis 17 –
“This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Genesis 17:10, 11
The Lord noted that circumcision is a “sign.” A sign is something that points to something else. Jews consider circumcision as the thing itself. They point to their circumcision and say, “Because I am circumcised (signifying being a Jew), I am righteous.” This is incorrect. The “sign” does not call attention to itself, but rather points us to the fulfillment of the sign.
The implication in cutting the male organ is that the sign anticipates the cutting of sin. It tells us that sin travels from father to child. As every person has a father, it means that sin is inherited by every person (as noted in Psalm 51 above).
After the giving of the sign, the Lord eventually gave Israel the Law of Moses. This was His standard by which Israel was to live. And, in fact, He promised – explicitly – that life would be given if a man could perform the law –
“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5
It is a promise of the law. The man who does the things of the law will live. To live is to not die. It is an explicit statement that speaks of righteousness leading to life, because “the wages of sin is death.”
When Christ came, He did not come to the Japanese. Nor did He come to those in Germany. Rather, He came as a descendant of Israel after the giving of the law. Thus, He was born under the law. However, He had no human father. Thus, no sin was transmitted to Him. The “sign” of circumcision was fulfilled in His coming. The line of sin was “cut” because His Father is God. As such, He was capable of living by the law, something no other person had done – proven by their deaths. Every person born under the law for the previous 1400+ years had died because “the wages of sin is death,” and all of them had sin and committed sin. Peter will further explain this in the verses to come.
In the virgin birth, Christ was born without sin. But being born under the law, Christ had to live without sin in order to fulfill the law. This is what the gospels were given to show. Christ not only was born sinless, but He lived perfectly before His Father without sinning –
“Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” John 8:46, 47
The record of Christ’s sinless life is documented, the book of Acts speaks of it, and the epistles explain it. But the resurrection proves it. Peter said, “it was not possible that He should be held by” death. If the wages of sin is death, and if Christ was born without sin and lived without ever sinning, then it was indeed impossible for death to hold Him. In Him was life, the life was never cut because of sin, and therefore the life remained in Him.
Therefore, and because of this, the power of God was brought to bear on the lifeless human body of Christ in fulfillment of the words of the law, “which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:5). The promise of the Lord (Yehovah) is fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Life application: Because the promise of the Lord found in Leviticus 18:5 is fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus, it signifies that the law is fulfilled in Him. As such, in Him is life. From this point, the gospel of Jesus Christ says that if you believe in this fulfilled work of Jesus, you will be imputed His righteousness. The fulfillment of the law will be reckoned to you.
As it is law by which sin is imputed (see Romans 5:13), and as a person who believes in the work of Christ is now “in Christ,” it means that sin is no longer imputed to that person –
“that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19
This then means, exactingly and unambiguously, that a person who is saved is saved forever (eternal salvation). If we who are in Christ are no longer imputed sin, and if “the wages of sin is death,” then those who are in Christ can never die again. However, this is not referring to physical death, but the rebinding of the soul. These physical bodies will either die, or they will be cast off at the rapture, as explained by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.
The words of Peter today dispel two lines of incorrect theology/doctrine taught within the church. The first is that a person can lose his salvation. This is as impossible as it was for death to hold Christ. The second is that we are obligated to the Law of Moses in part or in whole (Hebrew Roots, Seventh Day Adventists, et al). If we were bound to the law, sin could be imputed. Paul says that is not the case in so many ways that it is incredible that people hold to this heretical doctrine.
Grace has been granted to those who call on Christ. Do not be anxious that it can be taken away, and do not put yourselves again under the yoke of bondage which is the Law of Moses. Be sound in your doctrine and be firm in your faith – to the glory of God who redeemed you through the perfect and pure shed blood of Christ!
Lord God! How incredible it is what You have done through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.