Acts 2:47

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

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The words of this verse continue those of the previous verse. Taken together they read, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” With this noted, we see that the early church was “praising God.”

This is a general statement that was noted by Luke at the very end of his gospel –

“And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:50-53

This attitude of praise concerning the crucified Lord, their Passover Lamb (Leviticus 23:14) and Atoning Sacrifice (Leviticus 23:26-32); and the risen Lord, the Firstfruits of God (Leviticus 23:9-15); continued on in an attitude of praise at the Lord who gave forth His Spirit to the people (Leviticus 24:15-22). The fulfillment of typology from Scripture was being realized before their eyes.

With each occurrence, the praises of the people must have grown greater and greater. The thought of Ecclesiastes 9 must have saturated their conduct –

“Go, eat your bread with joy,
And drink your wine with a merry heart;
For God has already accepted your works.
Let your garments always be white,
And let your head lack no oil.” Ecclesiastes 9:7, 8

The Lord had accepted them, and thus their works were now acceptable to the Lord. Along with this, it says of them, “and having favor with all the people.” This doesn’t mean the masses were being converted, nor that the leaders accepted their message as true. It is the same general sentiment found in Mark 12:37 where it says, “And the common people heard Him gladly.”

Those who heard the apostles speak would have nothing to hold against them, and – indeed – they would have been glad to listen to them and learn from them, even if they didn’t join the faith. People can go to a lecture by a person and learn from him, even if they don’t necessarily agree with him. We can watch a show on TV about something we don’t agree with, maybe evolution, and still enjoy the content.

As such, the apostles and disciples found favor with people in general. There was nothing worthy of calling for a good stoning in order to silence them. And so, they continued proclaiming their message. In this, it next says, “And the Lord added to the church daily.”

The verb is imperfect. It more rightly says, “And the Lord kept adding to the church daily.” Of those that heard from day to day, some were convinced, their hearts were touched, and they yielded to the call upon their hearts. Saying that “the Lord” did this does not in any way need to imply that the Lord actively reached into their hearts and converted them. This would be contrary to the notion of free will in man.

Rather, the apostles would have quoted directly from Scripture (as evidenced by Peter’s quoting of Scripture in Acts 2 and elsewhere, and also in the epistles). Along with that, they would explain how Christ fulfilled these things. In hearing, there would be a response. This is how salvation works. Paul states this directly in Romans 10:16, 17 –

“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

It is the Lord who gave Scripture, it is the Lord who fulfilled Scripture, it was the Lord who appointed His ambassadors, and thus it is the Lord who adds to the church. Luke finishes the verse with the thought that those who are so added are “those who were being saved.”

The KJV tragically renders these words, “such as should be saved.” This would compel the verb to be rendered in the future. But it is a present participle. Vincent’s Word Studies, citing Lightfoot, reveals the extent of the damage such an incorrect translation of these words means –

“Salvation is a thing of the present, as well as of the past and future. … ‘Godliness, righteousness, is life, is salvation. And it is hardly necessary to say that the divorce of morality and religion must be fostered and encouraged by failing to note this, and so laying the whole stress either on the past or on the future – on the first call, or on the final change. It is, therefore, important that the idea of salvation as a rescue from sin, through the knowledge of God in Christ, and therefore a progressive condition, a present state, should not be obscured, and we can but regret such a translation as Acts 2:47, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” where the Greek implies a different idea’ (Lightfoot, ‘On a Fresh Revision of the New Testament’).”

The church was growing, and people were being saved. But the theology behind the words is important to understand, and it cannot be properly understood when a translation gives a faulty sense of what has occurred, is occurring, or will occur within the redemptive narrative.

Life application: There is a lot of theology that is to be found in this final verse of Acts 2. But Acts 2 is a chapter literally overflowing with information that is to be taken in the proper context and applied to our theology in the proper manner.

As for Acts 2:47, how one perceives the words here will be based on what one believes about salvation. Does man have free will? Does God actively choose some for salvation while condemning all others? Is salvation a “right now” event, or is it some concept that applies to the future in an obscure way? Paul tells us the importance of “right now” in his second letter to the Corinthians –

“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
‘In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.’
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2

What is your attitude concerning sharing the gospel? If people are predestined to be saved by God, then it doesn’t really matter, does it? Can God’s will be thwarted? And so, if there are those who “should be saved,” there would be no need to worry about telling them anything. There would be no need to send missionaries out to bring the message of Christ to the world.

Great errors in theology have arisen because of great errors in translations, in thinking, and in doctrine. Let us be aware of such errors and flee from them. Let us purpose in our hearts to get the saving message of Jesus Christ out to those around us.

Lord God, help us to be responsible with our time in Your word. Help us to reject faulty translations when we realize they are faulty, making notes to carefully correct the doctrinal errors that are presented in verses or passages that were incorrectly presented. We can be sure that most translators really cared about what they were doing, but we can also be sure that they were just fallible people translating Your word in a fallible way. Help us to see the error and to correct it in order to be right in our walk with You. Amen.