Sunday, 2 January 2022
To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” Acts 3:26
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 just referred to the covenant made with Abraham, which was a covenant of faith – something even Moses and the prophets spoke of in their words. Now, Peter explains what that means in regard to the coming of Christ Jesus, saying, “To you first.”
Peter is speaking to the men of Israel (3:11). This is perfectly in accord with Jesus’ words of Luke 24 –
“Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’” Luke 24:46, 47
The sentiment is repeated by Christ just prior to the ascension in Acts 1, and then it is picked up now by Peter and later by Paul several times in Acts and then in his epistles –
“Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.’” Acts 13:46
The message was to go first to those who bore the burden of the law, to free them from its bondage. This was even the purpose of Jesus’ earthly ministry, as He said in Matthew 15:24, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The house of Israel bore the weight and responsibility of the law. Therefore, the law had to be fulfilled first before a New Covenant could be introduced. Christ came to take the weight of the law upon Himself in order to remove that weight from the people. Jesus said this explicitly in Matthew 11 –
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
With this being understood, Peter next says, “God, having raised up His Servant Jesus.” This is not speaking of the resurrection. The structure of the Greek indicates clearly that it is referring to the act of bringing Christ into the world in order to accomplish His mission.
It is the same terminology as was used in verse 3:22, which said, “For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren.’” Jesus was raised up by God within the house of Israel. Peter indicates this, saying that He “sent Him to bless you.”
The verb is a present participle. The words more correctly read, “blessing you.” It is an ongoing action, always present before the people. The blessing of Christ is one that can be appropriated at any point in time because the eternal Christ has been raised up for this very purpose. The contrast between the ongoing action of the law in comparison to the ongoing blessing of Christ is reflected by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3 –
“Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:12-18
This “blessing” is then realized in the action that results from it, which Peter says is “in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” This was exactly what Zecharias the father of John the Baptist prophesied concerning the coming of Messiah –
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79
Sin is what separates man from God. The law only highlights, and even magnifies, the sin in man. As such, Christ came to take man’s sin upon Himself, and to remove the weight and burden of the law from the people so that they would no longer face the imputation of sin. In turning to Christ, man turns away from sin. Reconciliation is realized, and pure shalom – wholeness in all ways – is restored.
Life application: In Revelation 21:3, 4, it says –
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
This is a marvelous promise from the word of God that someday the world in which we live will be behind us. All of the sorrows, pains, trials, divorces, murders… all of it will be gone. A state of perfect wholeness will be realized, and humanity will be blessed with what was originally intended for them.
But this cannot occur unless the sin in man is dealt with first. For those who fail to come to God through Jesus Christ, their sin remains. As such, their condemnation remains. No person can enter into what God has prepared for His people without coming through Jesus Christ. And this is exactly what the first point of the simple gospel of salvation through Jesus proclaims, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
We have sin, Christ is the cure for the sin we bear, and we must believe that these things are true. Unless we acknowledge this, there can be no salvation. And, incredibly, all God asks us to do in order to receive His salvation is to believe. This is what Abraham did, as indicated in the previous verse of Acts. And this is what the gospel Peter and Paul put forth for humanity calls for – BELIEVE!
Let us accept God’s offer of peace and reconciliation which comes through the giving of His Son for us –
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4
Accept what God has done, and be guaranteed a place in the glorious new heavens and earth that Revelation so beautifully describes! Do it today.
Lord God, we are so very grateful to You for having sent Christ Jesus to take care of the sin in our lives. An infinite void separated us from You, but through Him, that gap is repaired. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. In His name, we pray. Amen.