Wednesday, 17 November 2021
For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. Acts 2:27
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In this verse, Peter continues to cite the 16th Psalm. It is this verse, in particular, that he will use to build his case concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that he spoke of in verse 2:23. As such, he begins with, “For You will not leave my soul in Hades.”
The word translated as “leave” means to “leave behind” or “abandon.” Other words which give the sense might be to “forsake,” or to “desert.” The word translated as “soul” is the Greek word psuché. That can have various significations, but the intent here is the being of the person that extends beyond the physical makeup. It is based on the Hebrew word nephesh which carries the same general meanings as the Greek. That this is referring to that which animates the body is obvious from the context because of the words “in Hades.”
Hades (translated as “hell” in older versions) is the repository for the dead. Today, hell is considered the place of damnation and eternal torment, but that was not its original intent. The Greek word hadés is the unseen world where departed spirits go. It is equivalent to the Hebrew word sheol, which is variously translated as the grave, hell, the pit, and so on. When a person dies, their soul (that which animates the physical body) is separated from the body. From there, it goes to sheol (hadés) where it awaits whatever is coming.
This is an unnatural state for man who is a soul/body unity. This is the doctrine known as anthropological hylomorphism, or the dual nature of man. Quite often, people incorrectly state that man has a triune nature – soul, body, and spirit. But this is not what Scripture teaches. Rather, the spirit is a connection to God. When Adam fell, the spiritual connection to God was lost. All people are born as a soul/body unity, but there is no spiritual connection to God.
The reconnection is the spiritual nature that needs to be corrected, but it is not a separate part of a person. When a person dies, he enters into an unnatural state where the body is dead, but the soul lives on. Paul calls this state being “naked” in 2 Corinthians 5:3. The intent for man that is clearly seen in Scripture is that he is to be a soul/body unity (clothed), and that it is to last forever because of the spiritual connection to his Creator. When the spiritual connection was severed, the physical body became corrupt and was destined to die –
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
The soul, without the body (meaning when the body dies), goes to this pit. Whatever state that soul is in at the time of death will determine whether that person will be condemned to the Lake of Fire, or if that person will be given new and eternal life. An example of a soul in sheol (hadés) is found in 1 Samuel 28 –
“Then the woman said, ‘Whom shall I bring up for you?’
And he said, ‘Bring up Samuel for me.’
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, ‘Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!’
13 And the king said to her, ‘Do not be afraid. What did you see?’
And the woman said to Saul, ‘I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.’
14 So he said to her, ‘What is his form?’
And she said, ‘An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.’ And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down.
15 Now Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’” 1 Samuel 28:11-15
This is what David was saying in the Psalms concerning the state of One who has died, “For You will not leave my soul in Hades.” In this, it could be that he is simply saying, “I know that I will be redeemed from the pit someday. The Lord will not abandon me forever.” It is the same sentiment that Job anticipated –
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27
As this is the case with David and Job and so many others, it can be argued to this point that David is simply writing about himself in the psalm. However, his next words are what Peter’s case hinges on. Continuing to cite David, he says, “Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
The word translated as “allow” is didómi. It means to “give.” Hence, “Nor will You give Your Holy One to see corruption.” As such, “allow” provides an acceptable way of understanding the intent. The Weymouth New Testament provides real clarity in the meaning of this verse –
“For Thou wilt not leave me in the Unseen World forsaken, nor give up Thy holy One to undergo decay.”
The word translated as “corruption” is introduced into Scripture here, diaphthora. It is found six times, all in Acts 2 and Acts 13. All six uses will refer to this same context, that of the non-decay of the body of Christ. The word David uses in the Psalm is shakhath, signifying a pit. As such, it figuratively means “decay,” because a body in a pit decays. The Greek translators of the Old Testament understood this and translated the words of David as Peter now repeats them.
It is the normal occurrence that happens to all people. It is the reason why some cultures embalm their dead. It is an attempt to arrest the degradation of the body in order to overthrow the effects of the fall. Job understood this state of degradation of the body and he forms a parallel thought, equating the pit (corruption) to the activity of worms which come to destroy his body –
“If I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’
And to the worm, ‘You are my mother and my sister,’” Job 17:14
As the soul does not decay, what David says is obviously referring to the body that has gone to the pit in death. The words of David are stating that a Person is going to die, that the soul of that Person will enter Hades, and that the body of that Person will not see corruption in this state. After finishing his quote from the psalms, Peter will then explain why this must be speaking of the Messiah rather than David referring to Himself.
Both of these clauses, when properly understood, point to a person who is protected by the Lord from being abandoned in the repository of the dead (Hades) and whose body – that has been temporarily separated from the soul – will not see any corruption, even though this is the usual and accepted norm for bodies that die. That this separation is temporary is to be inferred because the soul has not been left in Hades. As Hades is where disembodied souls go, the inference is then obvious. There will be a reuniting of the soul and body.
Life application: One valuable tool in studying particular verses or passages is to check the translation of multiple versions. In doing so, different ways of expressing the same thing can be considered. In knowing what the original language says, and then noting these various translations, it is as if a flower has opened up with many beautiful petals that look the same, but are individual from one another.
At the same time, one must be careful to not simply choose the translation that he likes the most because it is pleasing to the ear. It may be wrong, and indeed, translations are often wrong. But to see the variations can help come to a proper understanding about what is being said. This is exactly what the authors of the KJV said to do in their preface. Though the language is old and difficult, they say –
“For as it is a fault of incredulitie, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can beno lesse then presumption. Therfore as S. Augustine saith, that varietie of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversitie of signification and sense in the margine, where the text is not so cleare, must needes doe good, yea is necessary, as we are perswaded.”
In other words, they are fully persuaded that it is necessary to use a multitude of translations, and to also check the margin notes where the text is not so clear. As such, we can close with an evaluation of the verse set before us today in a multitude of translations –
# because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. (NIV)
# For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. (NLT)
# For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. (ESV)
# because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay. (BSB)
#for You will not abandon my soul into Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see decay. (BLB)
# Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (KJV)
#For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (NKJV)
#FOR YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. (NASB)
# FOR YOU WILL NOT FORSAKE ME and ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES (the realm of the dead), NOR LET YOUR HOLY ONE UNDERGO DECAY [after death]. (Amplified)
# because you will not abandon me in Hades or allow your holy one to see decay. (CSB)
# because You will not leave me in Hades or allow Your Holy One to see decay. (HCSB)
# Because thou wilt not leave my soul unto Hades, Neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption. (ASV)
# “Because you did not leave my Soul in Sheol and you did not give your Pure One to see destruction.” (Aramaic)
# The Lord won’t leave me in the grave. I am his holy one, and he won’t let my body decay. (CEV)
# Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. (Douay-Rheims)
# Because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, Neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption. (ERV)
# because you will not abandon me in the world of the dead; you will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave. (GNT)
# because you do not abandon my soul to the grave or allow your holy one to decay. (GWT)
# For you will not abandon my soul to Hades or allow your Holy One to experience decay. (ISV)
# Because You will not leave my soul to Hades, Nor will You give Your Holy One to see corruption; (LSV)
# because you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor permit your Holy One to experience decay. (NET Bible)
# because you will not abandon my soul in Sheol, neither will you allow your Holy One to see decay. (NHEB)
# For Thou wilt not leave me in the Unseen World forsaken, nor give up Thy holy One to undergo decay. (Weymouth New Testament)
# because you will not leave my soul in Hades, neither will you allow your Holy One to see decay. (WEB)
# because Thou wilt not leave my soul to hades, nor wilt Thou give Thy Kind One to see corruption; (YLT)
Lord God, thank You for the diligent study and care of scholars and translators over the ages who have brought a richness to understanding Your word that fills us with a great and deep understanding and appreciation for what Your word is telling us. Help us to be diligent in our own studies, and to carefully evaluate and consider what You are telling us. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.