Acts 5:31

Changing leaves. Tennessee Countryside.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:31

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 verse said, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.” Now, Luke records the next words of Peter and the apostles, saying, “Him God has exalted.” The verb is hupsoó. It signifies to lift up, raise up, and so on. It is the same word used in the Greek translation of Isaiah 52:13 to describe the coming Messiah –

“Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.”

One can see that the words are parallel to the previous verse in somewhat of a pun –

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus.
Him God has lifted up.

Jesus was hung on a tree, having been lifted up (see John 3:14 where the same Greek word is used) by the leaders of Israel, but God has lifted Jesus up “to His right hand.” Here, some translations say, “with His right hand,” others “to His right hand.” The Greek is not specific and must be supplied. It is the same terminology as in Acts 2:33.

Either is possible based on the surrounding context. The right hand signifies power, both in action (ability) and in position (authority). As noted, the previous verse just said that God raised Jesus. Therefore, it could be “by the right hand (ability) of God.” However, the next clause will speak of repentance and forgiveness of sins, something that comes from the position of authority.

Nothing is lost in either translation because both possibilities are true. Therefore, a word such as “at” might be a better choice because it can convey either meaning or both meanings at the same time –

“exalted at the right hand of Him…”

As such, it could mean “at [by the power of] the right hand,” or “at [to the location of] the right hand of God.”

Although this may seem like trifling, the words have importance and should be considered. God’s power (His right hand) raised Jesus (Romans 10:9), and Jesus is seated at the right hand (the position of authority) of God (Romans 8:34).

The apostles, though stating a truth, are letting the council know that there is hope for them. The actions of Israel’s leaders actually served the greater purposes of God. Forgiveness is possible if they could but accept the matter and acknowledge what they had done. With this, their next words state, “to be Prince.”

It is the same thought already presented by Peter in Acts 3:14, 15 –

“But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.”

The word there translated as Prince signifies “a file-leader who pioneers the way for many others to follow” (HELPS Word Studies). It is also found in Hebrews 2:10 and 12:2. Reading those verses will give a fuller idea of the thought now being presented. Jesus is the “File-leader.” He is the One who leads the way for all others who will be raised up by God, lifted up at His right hand. This is because He is also the “Savior.”

This is specifically referring to Jesus Christ in His position of ability to save. The word specifically refers to Him as the One “who saves believers from their sin and delivers them into His safety” (HELPS Word Studies). It is in this capacity that Jesus is able “to give repentance to Israel.”

The word metanoia, or repentance, signifies changing of the mind. What this is saying is that Israel is offered a change of mind concerning wrongdoing. Paul says in Romans 3:20 that “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” When law exists, there is always a struggle in the mind of the one under that law. The word “compunction” explains this. It is the guilty feeling or moral hesitation that either prevents, or follows, the doing of something wrong.

Jesus came to give Israel a change of mind from this. In fulfilling the law, the law is annulled through His death. As such, there is no longer this feeling of guilt concerning a matter (such as eating pork or not). And this exists both in abstaining from pork, even though there is nothing wrong with it, and in the state that comes after eating pork because the law said not to do so. In the giving of the law, the conscience becomes guilty. But more than this, Jesus also came to offer “forgiveness of sins.”

Not only is the mind reformed through the annulling of the law, but the sins committed under the law are forgiven through His death in fulfillment of it. This is noted by Paul in Romans, Galatians, and elsewhere. And more, because the law is now annulled, there is no longer the imputation of sin – because sin comes from a violation of law. This is noted by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:19.

Without the law, then sin is no longer an issue. Thus, the words of Peter and the apostles now can be summed up by the words of Paul in Romans 3:36, saying of Jesus, “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

If one looks at the previous verse side by side with this verse, the parallelism of what is stated comes forth –

5:30 – The God of our fathers raised up Jesus (from the dead, proving He is God)
5:31 – Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior (assuming His position as God)

5:30 – Whom you murdered (an action that gives guilt under the law)
5:31 – To give repentance to Israel (dealing with the moral hesitation after violating the law)

5:30 – By hanging on a tree (the death of Christ in fulfillment of the law)
5:31 – And forgiveness of sins (the action resulting from the death of Christ in fulfillment of the law)

Life application: There are wonderful truths to be found in a detailed study of the words of Scripture, and it is never a waste of time to search them out. When doing a personal study, be sure to be aware of the many types of literary devices that the Bible uses, such as poetry, prose, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, idiom, personification, parallelisms, parable, typology, and so on.

In understanding what is being said, and in properly identifying the context in which it is said, there is a treasure trove of wisdom to be obtained from the mind of God as it is revealed in the pages of this wonderful treasure that we call the Holy Bible.

Lord God, Your word is wonderful. Thank You for Your glorious and superior word. Amen.