Friday, 31 December 2021
Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. Acts 3:24
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).
In the previous two verses, Peter has spoken out the words of Moses concerning the “Prophet like me” that he had mentioned in Deuteronomy 18. But the word concerning Christ didn’t begin there, as noted in verse 3:21 where Peter referenced “all His holy prophets since the world began.” Nor did it end with Moses either. Rather, Moses spoke of prophets that would arise in Deuteronomy 18 as well –
But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:20-22
The implication of Moses’ words is not that there will only be false prophets, but there will be true prophets, but that the false prophets must be identified and weeded out. With this understanding, Peter begins this verse with, “Yes, and all the prophets.”
In Scripture, the word “all” does not necessarily have to mean “all” in the absolute sense. For example, in Matthew 3, it says –
“Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.” Matthew 3:4-6
However, in Luke 7, it says –
“And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Luke 7:29, 30
Thus, not every prophet is necessarily referred to here. It simply speaks of a unified message from the office of a true prophet. And that includes “from Samuel and those who follow.”
Peter specifically mentions Samuel, and yet prophets were noted between the time of Moses and Samuel, such as in Judges 4:4 and 6:8. In 1 Samuel 2:27-36, a person – though not specifically called a prophet – carried the word of the Lord to Eli the high priest. It can even be inferred that Eli the high priest heard and knew the word of the Lord from 1 Samuel 3:9.
However, the office of prophets took on a rather distinct nature at the time of Samuel where groups of prophets are recorded together. Further, the distinct nature of Samuel’s prophetic office is noted in Psalm 99 –
“Moses and Aaron were among His priests,
And Samuel was among those who called upon His name;
They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.” Psalm 99:6
Of this office of prophet, of which Samuel is noted as the chief example, Peter next says,
“as many as have spoken.”
These words have to be considered in a limited sense. First, not all of the words of a prophet were words of prophecy. Some prophets only spoke a limited number of words of prophecy from the Lord in their lives, such as King Saul (1 Samuel 10:11). Some prophets spoke the word of the Lord, but only the substance of their words – without any specifics – are recorded in Scripture (see Jeremiah 26:20-23).
Therefore, what Peter is saying is that there is a general tenor of the prophetic word of the Lord that is conveyed which ultimately points to something specific, and that is that they “have also foretold these days.”
This is speaking of the promise of the coming Christ and of that which is involved in His coming – a New Covenant, the rejection of Him by His people, the inclusion of Gentiles in the work of the Messiah, the regathering of His people to the land of Israel, a future tribulation, a glorious messianic kingdom, and so on. The prophets spoke forth words of the events surrounding the coming of Christ, sometimes in typology, sometimes in veiled terms, sometimes in generalities, and sometimes in explicit words. Jesus referred to this after His resurrection –
“Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:25-27
As far as Samuel and Moses being given as the chief examples of this class of people, it should be noted that even his mother spoke forth words of prophecy at the time she dedicated him to the Lord. In her words, she specifically notes the coming of Israel’s king at a time when there were no kings, and then refers to the Lord’s Messiah (anointed) –
“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces;
From heaven He will thunder against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
‘He will give strength to His king,
And exalt the horn of His anointed.’” 1 Samuel 2:10
Likewise, though not through Samuel directly, the words of the book ascribed to him explicitly speak of the establishment and eternal nature of the Davidic line of kings, an obvious reference to the coming of Christ –
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.” 2 Samuel 7:12-14
Thus, Peter’s words to the men of Israel were clearly understood and carried with them the note of certainty that the prophetic utterances given to the people of Israel were intended to lead them to the times in which Christ would come. He is the central point and intent of prophecy, whether it directly speaks of Him or not. As it says in Revelation 19:10, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Life application: In the main commentary, Jeremiah 26:20-23 was referenced –
“Now there was also a man who prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath Jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. 21 And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid and fled, and went to Egypt. 22 Then Jehoiakim the king sent men to Egypt: Elnathan the son of Achbor, and other men who went with him to Egypt. 23 And they brought Urijah from Egypt and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.”
Though seemingly unnecessary to the biblical narrative, the words are actually key in understanding exactly what Peter is referring to in his words. Israel is being told that they have been guided by the warnings of the prophets all along. And it isn’t just the spoken words that were recorded in Scripture that were guiding them. Rather, prophets – both true and false – were speaking to the people.
The true were to be heeded; the false were to be destroyed. But the testimony in Scripture is that quite often the false were exalted and the true were destroyed. As such, the very existence of these people – whether recorded in Scripture or not – was a guiding factor in the nation as it led towards punishment, exile, return to the land, and so on.
And all of these things were leading the nation to the time when Messiah would come. Everything about the nation of Israel was being geared for this one main purpose. Therefore, when we read the history leading up to Israel, in the nation of Israel, or even of the alignment of nations that align with or come against Israel, we are seeing the unfolding of God’s workings within humanity in order to bring about the fulfillment of His plan for humanity.
As such, when we read Scripture, let us consider this. This book lays down the outline of everything that is needed for us to understand everything God wants us to know concerning His redemptive process within the stream of time and human existence. In our hands, we are holding the precious and sacred treasure which is THE WORD OF GOD.
Let us handle it wisely and never fail to be careful with its sacred contents.
Lord God, help us to be responsible with our time, vigilant in our walk before You, and ever-so careful with how we treat the precious words of life that are revealed in Your Holy Bible. May we seek out its treasures all the days of our lives. Give us wisdom in Your word, O God. Amen.