Acts 3:23

Thursday, 30 December 2021

And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Acts 3:23

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, quoting Deuteronomy, has been referring to the Prophet who would come and who would be like Moses. The command in Deuteronomy was spoken from the Lord to Moses. From there, it was to be communicated to the people through the law. This command was that the Prophet to come was to be heard in all things. Peter now speaks of the consequences of disobeying this command, saying, “And it shall be.”

The words speak of a state of being that must exist. In essence, “The people are to do what I command. And what I command includes…” With that in mind, Peter continues, saying, “that every soul who will not hear that Prophet.”

As the Prophet to come was promised by the Lord, and as He had the words of the Lord in His mouth, speaking everything commanded by Him, then to not hear Him would be to ignore the Lord. In this, one can see that the word of the Lord is a reflection of who He is. When He speaks, He is revealing the substance of who He is to us. To not hear Him, as revealed through this Prophet sent by Him, that person “shall be utterly destroyed.”

Peter does not cite Moses exactly here. In Deuteronomy, it says, “I will require it of him.” Despite the change in wording, Peter’s words surely paraphrase the intent. When the Lord seeks out why He was ignored, it is a way for Him to reveal to the person the error of his way and to understand the judgment he deserves.

The person failed to believe, and to fail to believe the Lord means that person will be destroyed. The word Peter uses to convey this is found only here in Scripture, exolethreuó. It is a compound verb, coming from ek, or “out,” and olothreuó, or “destroy.” Thus, it signifies complete destruction. Peter finishes his thought by saying that such a person was to be so destroyed “from among the people.”

What this means isn’t just being destroyed for sins committed in the flesh, but that there is no hope of being saved from eternal condemnation. Further, this signifies that the person will be utterly cut off from the people of God as well. It means to die apart from the atonement of sin. The reason this would occur comes down to one simple word: faith.

The Day of Atonement in Israel was a day of faith. It was a day of acknowledging one’s sins before God. To not have faith in the atonement process meant that the person did not believe it was effective – for whatever reason. But Scripture, meaning the words of the Lord, said that this was how atonement was to be received.

In the same manner, to not believe the words of the Prophet, who had the words of the Lord in His mouth, was to not believe the words of the Lord. In the end, one is saved or condemned by what he believes or fails to believe.

Life application: Though spoken to Israel under the law, the words of Jesus teach us that our words have power. But words are a reflection of what is in the heart –

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37

This remains true in the church age. The words we speak will either bring salvation or condemnation. First, the gospel is given –

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4

This is what Christ did for us. Paul then tells us in Romans how that is appropriated –

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:8-13

The mouth speaks forth what the heart believes. This doesn’t mean that one is saved by simply speaking forth just anything then. Rather, it means that a person whose words speak forth what his heart believes, when that belief is in accord with the gospel message, will be saved. When the heart and the word are in one accord, the message is accepted by God.

This is because, unlike God whose words always reflect who He is, man’s words are often not truthful. It is the Lord who searches the hearts and minds. It is He who discerns what is true and what is false. Only a true confession, which is an open profession of the state of the heart, will be pleasing to God.

In the end, everything about our relationship with God must come down to faith. When our faith is properly directed, our words will express that. And in our profession of faith, we will be justified before God. Good stuff from our marvelously gracious Creator!

Lord God, thank You for the simplicity of the gospel. Thank You also that all You ask for us to do is to believe that simple gospel message in order to be saved. You have done all that is necessary to bring us back to You. Thank You that our faith in this is pleasing in Your eyes. Amen.