Saturday, 1 January 2022
You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ Acts 3:25
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).
The previous words of Peter referred to the prophets having spoken concerning Christ, foretelling the days that had now come in Him. With that stated, he next says, “You are sons of the prophets.”
In other words, Peter now connects the people before him directly to those who spoke of Christ. The prophets had received the words, the prophets’ words foretold the coming of Christ, the words of the prophets were intended for the people of God, and the sons of those prophets had now been the recipients of what was foretold. Thus, they were without excuse if they turned away from the words of the prophets.
It actually doesn’t bode well for them if taken in conjunction with Jesus’ words spoken to the Pharisees during His ministry –
“And He said, ‘Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ 50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.’” Luke 11:46-51
Jesus knew that he would be rejected, even though the prophets had foretold of His coming. Peter was now telling them that this same Jesus would now hold them accountable if they continued in their rejection of Him. This was explicit in verse 3:23 where he cited Moses concerning anyone who would not hear the words of the Prophet prophesied by him. With this understood, he next says, “and of the covenant which God made.”
In the Greek, Peter uses the noun and verb form of the same root word. In essence, he says, “and of the covenant which God covenanted.” God had entered into a covenant that was still in force at the time. Israel is being reminded of this with the words of Peter. But more, Peter continues by saying that the covenant is “with our fathers.”
This means that a covenant was made long ago and yet it was still in full effect. It was set forth and the terms remained unchanged. It was open and available to the people standing before him. But more, Peter is implying that he and John who stood before them had been recipients of the covenant promises and that they had not. If they had, Peter wouldn’t have to be standing there explaining all of this to them.
At this point, one would think that Peter is speaking of the Mosaic Covenant. He has just gotten done referring to Moses’ words that were written in Deuteronomy 18, a part of the covenant originally established at Mount Sinai. He then continued on referring to the prophets of that covenant when he said, “from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days” (3:24).
Because of this, the initial thought might have been, “What is this guy talking about. We are all sons of the covenant set forth by Moses.” But this is not at all what Peter is referring to. This is seen in his next words, “saying to Abraham.”
Despite having referred to precepts found in the Law of Moses and of those who lived and prophesied under that covenant, Peter is not at all referring to the Mosaic Covenant. That was a two-way covenant. The offer was made to the people, and they agreed to its provisions. They placed themselves under it and were bound to it. There was no future option to get out from under it. It stuck to them like glue and only in its annulment (through its fulfillment) could they be released from its yoke.
However, the “covenant which God covenanted” with Abraham was a completely different sort. God spoke forth the promise, and it was He who would see it through for those who were to be included in its provisions. With that understood, Peter next cites the promise of that covenant to Abraham, saying, “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
This covenant was initially promised in Genesis 12 –
“Now the Lord had said to Abram:
‘Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” Genesis 12:1-3
In Genesis 15, Abraham noted to the Lord that he had no “seed,” meaning offspring. But the Lord promised, on oath and by covenant, that His earlier promise would – in fact – come to pass. There it said –
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:1-6
In response to the spoken word alone, Abraham believed the otherwise incredible. He demonstrated faith and was declared righteous. After that, the Lord Himself cut the covenant as is recorded in the rest of the chapter.
In Genesis 17, the sign of the covenant was given, circumcision. The sign anticipated the coming of Christ. In the coming of Christ, the sign was fulfilled. In Genesis 22, a test of Abraham’s faith was made, and Abraham was vindicated through the test. As such, the Lord said to him –
“By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:16-18
It is this covenant, made with Abraham, and which continued through Isaac and Jacob, that Peter is referring to. This means that Peter’s citing of Moses concerning the Prophet to come, and of his citing of the prophets under the Mosaic Covenant, indicates that even the words of Moses and the prophets anticipated the fulfillment of the Law of Moses by the Messiah and its subsequent annulment by Him, thus allowing for the Abrahamic Covenant to take full effect.
As the Abrahamic Covenant was one based on faith alone, and which bore the sign of circumcision, and because the sign of circumcision is fulfilled in Christ, it means that anyone who demonstrates the faith of Abraham is “circumcised” in the heart and declared righteous through that act of faith – (see Romans 2:29).
All of this is carefully explained in the epistles, but those standing before Peter would have had an inkling of what was being presented. Restoration and fellowship with God cannot be obtained by a person through the Mosaic Code.
Rather, it could only be realized by faith in God’s fulfillment of it in Christ. And anyone, whether of Israel or not, could have possessed that faith. Hence, “all the families of the earth” means that all along Israel was not the only thing that God was focused on. Rather, God was reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus Christ. As will be seen in the next verse, Israel is just the first to be given this offer of reconciliation.
However, Jesus carefully explained this to Israel during His ministry, using the faith of a Gentile to show them this –
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. Matthew 8:5-13
Life application: The Mosaic Covenant, which is the basis for the Law of Moses, is not a means to an end for those to whom it was given. Rather, it was a tutor to them, and to us, that something else was necessary to bring peace between God and man. It was a steppingstone in the process. This is clearly and unambiguously stated by Paul in Galatians 3 –
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galatians 3:19-25
As this is so, why would anyone want to return to the law in order to attempt to be pleasing to God? It is a slap in His face, it is a rejection of Christ’s work, and it calls out, “The blood of Jesus was insufficient to do what needs to be done! Thanks for trying, God, but I’ve got this.”
Can you see how disgraceful the theology of those who return to the law for justification is? Don’t just walk away from such teachers… run. God has done the work. All He asks you to do is to simply believe. Have faith in Christ’s finished, final, and forever work; and be pleasing to your Creator. This is all that you can give Him. Jesus has done the rest.
Also, Peter’s words here demonstrate, without any doubt at all, that his “gospel” is exactly the same as that of Paul. He speaks of the gospel of grace through faith. Works are excluded.
Lord God, thank You for the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Today, we pray for those who are caught up in various religious expressions that are displeasing to You. We pray for those caught up in Judaism, the Hebrew Roots Movement, Seventh Day Adventists, and all others who have set aside the grace of Christ in order to work their way back to You. Open their eyes to what Jesus has done. This we pray in His glorious and exalted name. Amen.