Thursday, 18 November 2021
You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ Acts 2:28
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).
In this verse, Peter will complete his quoting of Psalm 16. He has directly equated the verses from it to the Lord’s passion, His courage through the ordeal, His death, His burial, and then to the fact that even in death He would not see corruption. Now, and with that being the reference point, Peter continues, saying, “You have made known to me.”
Peter cites the words directly from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, stating them in the aorist tense. As such, it reflects the words of Christ in the resurrection. His body did not see corruption, but instead, something new was made known to Him, which is “the ways of life.” The Hebrew states this in the singular, “the way of life.” However, the Greek OT continues to be cited by Peter, “the ways of life.”
The word translated as “way,” hodos, indicates a road, path, and so on. By implication, it then signifies a progress, such as the route or distance. Figuratively, it can indicate a mode or means of traveling. For example, one could use the word to say, “This is the way (the route) we will take, and it will be on this way (this path).” It can also be used to speak of a manner of life, “This is the way (hodos) of the Lord (Matthew 3:3 gives this meaning), and we should follow it.” That type of use of the word is found, for example, in Job 16 –
“For when a few years are finished,
I shall go the way of no return.” Job 16:22
There is a way (path) of life that people pursue. For example, the same thought concerning the “way of life,” as what David states in the Hebrew, is repeated in Proverbs 5 when referring to the way (path) of the immoral woman –
“Lest you ponder her path of life—
Her ways are unstable;
You do not know them.” Proverbs 5:6
Peter’s citing the plural of the Greek “ways” signifies the fullness of the manner of attaining life. This then takes one back to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy, such as in Deuteronomy 10 –
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 10:12, 13
There in Deuteronomy, Moses uses another word that carries essentially the same idea as the one David uses in the Psalm. It is the same word that is used in the Hebrew of Isaiah 40:3 that is cited in Matthew 3:3 (above). It also can mean a literal path, or it can signify the course or mode of life.
Israel failed to “walk in all His ways,” but where Israel failed, Christ prevailed. Because God favored Christ, He made known to Him the ways of life. In turn, Christ followed the ways of life, He attained the goal, and He attained to the resurrection from the dead.
With that understood, Peter finishes the quoting of David (Psalm 16:11) with the words, “You will make me full of joy in Your presence.” The Greek reads more precisely, “You will fill me with joy with Your face.” The idea of the face of the Lord is that of being in His presence, and thus being accepted by Him. With the face of the Lord, comes the thought of favor, honor, peace, and so on.
If one goes into the presence of a king and the king accepts him, he has received the king’s honor and the like. This idea is well-expressed in the words of the high priestly prayer found in Numbers 6 –
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
Life application: What should be obvious is that if the “ways of the Lord” are those things that bring life, meaning those things detailed by Moses in the law, and if Christ has attained to them where nobody else prior to Him could, it is an acknowledgment that in Him – not in the law – is the way to life. It is as if simple arithmetic is set before us, and yet we find it hard to accept the equation.
Jesus does not ever say that we are saved through keeping the Law of Moses. In fact, He hints at exactly the opposite time and time again. In Matthew 5, He says –
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18
In His words, Jesus is not saying that we (Israel at that time) must obey the law of Moses in order to be saved. He is making a point that the Law of Moses must be obeyed in order to not be condemned, and that the Law of Moses was the binding precept that condemns. Hence, He acknowledges that the law must stand until it is fulfilled. And then He immediately says that this is what He came to do, to fulfill it.
In other words, one can hang his proverbial hat on the law and attempt to find life through it, and he will fail and be condemned. Or he can come to Christ who has fulfilled the law and find life through the One who already had life in Him (see John 1:4, “In Him was life…”). Jesus did not need to fulfill the law to find life. Rather, because He was born under the law, He needed to fulfill the law in order to not be condemned. The ways were set before Him.
The difference is that man is already condemned by original sin. But Christ bore no original sin. In His fulfillment of the law, the life remains in Him, and that life can then be bestowed upon any who accepts His fulfillment of it. As He says –
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6
He uses the same term as Peter uses, hodos, way. But when Jesus says it, it is in the singular. Christ was shown the ways of life and He lived by them. The evidence of that is His resurrection, proving that He had fulfilled the law and was not condemned by it. Jesus shows us THE WAY OF LIFE and only through that can we also live. He embodies the law, and we are granted His perfect obedience under it by a mere act of faith.
As this is true, why (Why on earth!) would anyone want to go back under the law of condemnation? Choosing that path would be as smart as dunking one’s head in fluoroantimonic acid. Reason it out. Learn the simple equation. And then, give up on your futile attempts to merit God’s favor apart from the merits of Christ. Only in Him, and in Him alone, will you find the way of life.
And, as a bonus thought, once you have found this way – God’s superlative way – of attaining life, then act like it. He has redeemed you through the blood of Christ. Put away all worries, all neuroses, all anxieties, and all doubts. Be strong in your faith, be firm in your convictions, and do not let this world – a world that is passing away – steal the joy of Christ in you. Praise God for what He has done through Christ. Yes, praise God for JESUS!
Glorious Heavenly Father, thank You for the completed work of Christ. To Him were shown the ways of life. In His fulfilling of the law, He now provides us with THE WAY OF LIFE. Thank You that You have made this path available to us. Yes, O God, thank You for our Lord Jesus. Amen.