Acts 2:2

Saturday, 23 October 2021

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction 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).

Note: It is a good time to remind the reader of the five basic rules for interpreting the Bible –

  1. Is this prescriptive (does it prescribe something)?
  2. Is this descriptive (does it only describe what occurred)?
  3. Context (Who is being addressed, what does the surrounding passage speak of, what is the dispensation, etc.).
  4. Context (see 3).
  5. Context (see 4).

Chapter 2 of Acts is a descriptive passage. It prescribes absolutely nothing for the church at this time. Instead, it is a historical account of what occurred. The fact that events occur in Acts 2 in a certain manner in no way means that they will occur in this manner ever again. An example of such an unusual event is found in Exodus 40, Leviticus 9, and again in 2 Chronicles 7 –

“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34, 35

“And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Leviticus 9:23, 24

“When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.” 2 Chronicles 7:1, 2

Such an event is not recorded elsewhere for either the tabernacle or the temple. Each was a one-time occurrence to demonstrate that the Lord had approved of the edifice that had been consecrated to Him. The events surrounding the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, the words of Peter to the people of Israel in this chapter, the growth of the church noted here, and so on are all simply a historical record of what occurred. They prescribe nothing for the conversion or doctrine of any believer – Jew or Gentile – into the future. This is especially so with the words of Peter to Israel concerning their conversion as is recorded in verse 2:38, and which will be evaluated at that time.

For now, the context is an event that occurs in Jerusalem, probably at the temple, and as a demonstration of the fulfillment of the symbolism of the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost) for the Jewish people to see and to understand that the Christian faith, which stems directly from the word of the Lord to and through the nation of Israel, conveys the fulfillment of those things that Israel had been promised concerning the coming of their Messiah.

With these things stated, the verse begins with, “And suddenly.” It is a new word found only three times in Acts, aphnó. It is an adverb signifying “suddenly,” or “unexpectedly.” What is occurring was unknown to the apostles as to its coming. They were told to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Promise from the Father (Acts 1:4), and now that is to be fulfilled.

In this sudden manner, “there came a sound from heaven.” It is reminiscent of the events of the past. Fire came from heaven at the consecration of the tabernacle (see above). Likewise, fire from the Lord fell upon the burnt sacrifice presented by Elijah on Mount Carmel. Events like this are given as a sign to the people that the Lord has accepted what is presented to Him. Now, a sound is heard coming from heaven “as of a rushing mighty wind.”

The word translated as “wind,” pnoé, is found only here and in Acts 17:25. It signifies “wind,” “breath,” or “gust.” It is the root of the word pneuma, or spirit, which is also a word that signifies breath, and wind. This is the same as the word ruakh in Hebrew. It likewise can be translated as wind, breath, or spirit depending on the context. The idea here is that this rushing wind is heard coming from heaven.

The word translated as “rushing,” pheró, signifies “to bear along.” One should get the notion of what will later be said by Peter concerning the word of the Lord. He uses the word three times in a row to describe what occurred while on the Mount of Transfiguration and also as it came through the prophets –

“And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

The adjective used to describe the wind is biaios, meaning “strong,” or “violent.” The sound of the wind was probably like that of a massive whirlwind, like what Job experienced when the presence of the Lord was near (see Job 40:6). That same wind Job experienced was noted when Elijah was translated to heaven as he went up “by a whirlwind.” The word is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe the tempest which surrounds the Lord as He accomplishes His work –

“Then the Lord will be seen over them,
And His arrow will go forth like lightning.
The Lord God will blow the trumpet,
And go with whirlwinds from the south.” Zechariah 9:14

The idea being conveyed is that something heavenly is occurring, and it is on the day of Pentecost, confirming again that the Lord is at work, fulfilling the symbolism of what the Leviticus feast day only typologically anticipated. With this understanding, Luke next records, “and it filled the whole house.”

The word translated as “house” is oikos. It means a house, but it is used frequently to describe the “house of the Lord,” meaning the temple and its surrounding area. For example –

“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you have made it a “den of thieves.”’” Matthew 21:12, 13

There is no reason to assume that the events occurring here are anywhere else but this “house.” The temple is where the events of Exodus, Leviticus, and 2 Chronicles (noted above) occurred, and it is where the pilgrims on such feast days would have gathered. It is in this place that they would be feasting, talking about the events of the past year, and so on – just as Israelites had been doing for many generations. It is in this house “where they were sitting.”

At the pilgrim feasts, the people would gather and sit together, eating and rejoicing. It was a time of celebration and joy. It was a time to relax and to take a break during the harvest cycle. Everything about Luke’s description points to a gathering of Israel, in the presence of the Lord, just as it is described in Deuteronomy –

“But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deuteronomy 12:5-7

Life application: As noted above, in this and the surrounding verses, it is seen that the Lord is at work, fulfilling the symbolism of what the Leviticus feast day only typologically anticipated. As such, there is no need for it to ever occur again.

There was one cross of Christ to fulfill the Passover sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7). There is one church that is united on one gospel in which believers are to conduct their lives in a sinless manner (1 Corinthians 5:8). There was one resurrection of the Lord that fulfilled the typology of the Feast of Firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20). The giving of the Spirit in a demonstrable way was only needed to establish the church. As such, it is only found in this way in the book of Acts (see Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10, etc.).

These demonstrations do not prescribe anything. They are simply given as confirmation of the works of the apostles of Jesus Christ. Resultingly, they confirm that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah. They further confirm that the Spirit is available to Jew, Samaritan, and Gentile. Such demonstrations confirmed the apostleship of Peter (such as in Acts 8), and they confirmed the apostleship of Paul (such as in Acts 19:6).

As this is the purpose of the book of Acts, and as the book has been compiled and added to the canon of Scripture, there is no longer any need for an external demonstration of the coming of the Spirit. In fact, that would be contrary to the prescriptive writings of Paul which say that believers now live by faith and not by sight. If we require a demonstrable working of the Spirit, we are not living by faith, and we have a contradiction in the theology which governs our spiritual lives. No sign for our faith should be expected. It is presumptuous, and it excludes faith. Paul is clear –

“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Lord God, help us to be people of faith. May we never presumptuously demand a sign from You for us to accept that You are there and that Your word is true. Rather, help us to align our faith with the word You have given to us. With that, we will surely be satisfied. Your word is sufficient for our life, doctrine, and practice at this time. Thank You for this precious word. Amen.

 

 

 

Acts 2:1

Friday, 22 October 2021

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Acts 2:1

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction 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).

With the selection of Matthias noted at the end of Chapter 1, the account immediately turns to the fulfillment of the Feast of the Lord recorded in Leviticus 23:15-22. This is directly referenced by Luke, saying, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come.”

The word translated as “fully come” signifies “to be completed.” The name Pentecost means “fiftieth.” It is the fiftieth day of a particular cycle that was celebrated every year during the time of the law. It is a typological anticipation of an event that occurs at a set time after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord. Of this time, Vincent’s Word Studies rightly states –

“The day, according to the Hebrew mode, is conceived as a measure to be filled up. So long as the day had not yet arrived, the measure was not full. The words denote in process of fulfilment.”

Arriving at this fiftieth day, one comes to the pilgrim feast known as Shavuoth in Hebrew and Pentecost in Greek. Each of the Leviticus 23 Feasts of the Lord anticipates the work of Jesus Christ during His first advent or the state/conduct of the believer’s lives because of His completed work.

The word “feast” is, unfortunately, often used to translate two different Hebrew words. The first is moed, meaning an appointed time. The second is khagag, signifying a pilgrimage/pilgrim feast. There are eight of the “appointed times” listed in Leviticus 23, three of those are “pilgrim feasts.” Pentecost is the fifth of the recorded “appointed times,” and it is the second “pilgrim feast.”

The difference is important to understand because the “appointed times” point to something directly accomplished by the Lord in the redemptive process. The “pilgrim feasts” point to the life of believers in Christ as a result of the work of the Lord. The important point of these appointed times is that they all pertain to every believer in Christ – Jew and Gentile alike.

Because of what happens at Pentecost in Acts 2 is seemingly directed only to the Jews, the heretics who hold to hyperdispensationalism claim that what occurred only applies to them. This is incorrect. What occurred at Pentecost – in the year of Christ’s completed work – happened to the Jew first, but it pertains to any person in Christ since then, even to this day. This is true with all of the appointed times seen in Leviticus 23.

The instruction for celebrating Shavuoth/Pentecost states –

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. 17 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord. 18 And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. 19 Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. 20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21 And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on itIt shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 23:15-22

To understand what is being pictured and how it points to both the completed work of the Lord and believer’s lives in Christ, the Feast of the Lord series from Leviticus 23 – as presented by the Superior Word – can be read or viewed online.

Though the New Covenant was established in Christ’s blood almost two months prior to Pentecost, the true beginning of the church occurred at this time. That it pertains to both Jew and Gentile is typologically seen in the two loaves of bread baked with leaven that are presented to the Lord. That it encompasses the entire time of the church age, and even contains provision for those of the tribulation period, is seen in not reaping the corners of the field.

The reason the account records only Jews at this time is because this was an annual pilgrim feast of the Jews. Of these pilgrim feasts, it is recorded –

“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:16, 17

That the males are specifically noted does not mean women were not included. Elsewhere, it notes that all in the household were to attend. This means wives, children, and so on. The typology was given to Israel; the fulfillment of the typology pertains to all believers. To deny this fundamental truth of the “appointed times” is to deny that the process of salvation as accomplished by Jesus Christ pertains to all people – Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free.

For the time being, it is noted that the believers are together at Pentecost (Hebrew: Shavuoth), and “they were all with one accord in one place.” The believers were all together in Jerusalem as required by the law of the feast. This would have been at the temple area, in the presence of the Lord. This is stated in Deuteronomy 16:16 (above). It is at this place, amid all of the people of Israel, that the events to be described will take place.

Life application: As noted, there are eight “appointed times” of the Lord recorded in Leviticus 23. Three of them are “pilgrim feasts.” A very brief description of these is listed here –

1) Shabbath (Sabbath). This is fulfilled by the Lord as is recorded in Hebrews 4:3 (and elsewhere) saying, “For we who have believed do enter that rest.”
2) Pesach (Passover). 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
3) Matsoth (Unleavened Bread; a pilgrim feast). 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
4) Bikurim (Firstfruits).1 Corinthians 15:20, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
5) Shavuoth (Pentecost/the Feast of Weeks; a pilgrim feast). Ephesians 1:13 (and elsewhere), “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Weeks, or Pentecost, is shown to be fulfilled in Romans and 1 Corinthians  –

“Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.” Romans 16:5

“I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia…” 1 Corinthians 16:15

The presentation of the two loaves is what those verses are speaking of – one a Jew, one a Gentile, and thus one gospel message.

6) Yom Teruah (The Day of Acclamation). 1 Corinthians 15:47, “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.”
7) Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) Romans 3:24, 25, “…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood.”
8) Sukkoth (Tabernacles; a pilgrim feast). 2 Corinthians 5:7, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

All eight appointed times of the Lord are fulfilled by the Lord Jesus and/or are being lived out by His people because of His accomplished work. Each pertains to both Jew and Gentile that is based on the one and only gospel. Note: They are not “Jewish” feasts, nor are they “Feasts of Israel.” They are Feasts of the Lord. They pertain to the one, and only one, Church which is the Body of Christ – Jew and Gentile. One gospel.

In understanding the typology from the Old Testament, many heresies found in the church today can be avoided. Seventh Day Adventism (mandatory Sabbath observance); Hebrew Roots Movement (observance of the feasts of the Lord, dietary restrictions, and so on are mandatory); hyperdispensationalism (there are two gospels – one to the Jew and one to the Gentile); and so on. Each of these heresies comes about based on a failure to understand the typology from the Old Testament, its fulfillment in the New, and/or the scope of the fulfillment among the people who have come to Christ.

Another heresy that is seen within the church is the teaching that only the “Spring” feasts have been fulfilled, and the “Fall” feasts picture something coming at the end of the church age, specifically dealing with Israel. This is heresy because if these feasts are not fulfilled, then Christ did not fulfill the law (because these are a part of the Law of Moses). If He did not fulfill the law, then He is not the Messiah. Further, these are Feasts of the Lord, not Feasts of Israel. They were merely observed by Israel, but their fulfillment is in Christ.

By understanding the typology and the scope of what occurs, the heresies stated here (and others as well) are clearly identified. Beware of these false teachings and those who espouse them. They will be held accountable for their failure to give God the glory through what Jesus Christ has accomplished for His people. There is one gospel based on the completed work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Hallelujah for JESUS!

Lord God, thank You for the surety we possess because of Christ’s fulfillment of the types and shadows of the Old Covenant which only pointed to His more perfect work. Thank You that we can participate in what those things only anticipated. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Acts 1:26

Thursday, 21 October 2021

And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:26

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction 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).

With the proposal of either Joseph or Matthias to replace Judas, as Scripture called for, the account next says, “And they cast their lots.” Some take this as meaning a vote was made, but that is not how lots are conducted. Further, the wording of the next clause dismisses the idea of a vote having been made. Rather, lots were cast as is in accord with Scripture elsewhere.

Lots were cast on the Day of Atonement for the selection of the goat for the Lord and for the scapegoat. Land was called to be divided by lot in the book of Numbers, and that division was conducted in Joshua. Saul is recorded as having used lots. The division of the priests in 1 Chronicles 24 occurred by lot. Other lots are recorded in 1 Chronicles also. Nehemiah cast lots among the priests after the exile. David prophesied of lots being cast for the clothing of the Messiah in Psalm 22. And Solomon, in the Proverbs, takes it as an axiom that lots had value –

“The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33

“Casting lots causes contentions to cease,
And keeps the mighty apart.” Proverbs 18:18

These and other references concerning the use of lots demonstrate that it was a common practice in the decision-making process in Israel. In particular, Scripture itself condones the practice and acknowledges that when the lot was employed, its decision was from the Lord. As such, this practice, meaning casting lots, was employed by the apostles, “and the lot fell on Matthias.”

The wording here demonstrates that this was a casting of the lot and not a vote. For the lot to “fall” on Matthias indicates that it was the decision of the Lord through the lot, rather than a selection by the others.

Nothing about this process has been out of the will of the Lord, nor is it to be considered unsanctioned by the Lord. If this were the case, an explicit note of the inappropriate nature of the process would have been noted. Scripture called for a replacement, the office was to be filled by another who was qualified, prayer was made calling for the Lord’s hand upon the process, and then the lot – which is explicitly stated in Scripture to be used to remove contentions and seek the decision of the Lord – was cast.

In addition to this, the pattern of the twelve tribes equaling fourteen named people is remarkably repeated in the twelve apostles equaling fourteen named people. Matthias was selected in accord with Scripture, “And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Here, the word translated as “he was numbered” is sugkatapséphizomai. It is a compound word found only here in the Bible, coming from three other words indicating “with,” “among,” and “to calculate.” It is a different word than that used in verse 1:17, which was katarithmeó.

The idea here is that Matthias was fully accepted among the others and was recognized as an apostle, having been chosen by the Lord (see Proverbs 16:33 above) and received among them accordingly.

Life application: Reading the account here, and elsewhere in Scripture, often leads to the obvious question among believers today, “Is it acceptable to cast lots now?” The question is valid and there is no explicit answer. However, there is an inference that can be made. After this account in Acts 1, no mention of the lot is ever again made in Scripture.

The noun kléros, or lot, is used again, but not in the sense of a lot having been cast. Rather, it will refer to an inheritance or portion. It is of note that in the next chapter of Acts, the account immediately goes to the giving of the Holy Spirit. It may be that this is placed directly after the account of casting lots in order to show that a new way of determining matters has arisen.

In other words, with the coming of the Spirit, dependence on His guidance – rather than the casting of lots – is the expectation. That the casting of the lots is never referred to again – and thus is not an acceptable means of decision making – is an argument from silence, but it is one supported by the immediate noting of the coming of the Spirit.

With the coming of the Spirit, a new dynamic is introduced, because the Spirit not only directs the lives and decisions of those who wrote out the New Testament, but the Spirit also directed exactly that – the writing out of the New Testament. As such, we have everything that is needed for right conduct and doctrine.

The requirements for the selection of elders and deacons, for example, are laid out in the pastoral epistles. There is no need to cast lots for such a decision. In consideration of this, at least for church decisions, the lot is implicitly no longer necessary. As the proverbs are wisdom literature that can be applied to life at any time in redemptive history, a person could argue, “The proverbs say that ‘because every decision of the lot is from the Lord,’ it must be ok for me to cast lots.”

This was the attitude of John Wesley who famously cast lots, including for the purpose of deciding matters of marriage and even church doctrine. One could argue that the marriage part was ok, but one cannot argue that casting lots to determine doctrine could ever be acceptable. That is what the Bible is for. Why anyone would attempt to set doctrine by lot, when the Holy Spirit has already given us the word, is beyond comprehension. It is an inexcusable option to use.

As far as for marriage, finances, job decisions, and the like, if someone were to accept the premise of Proverbs and cast the lot, that person would – by default – have to accept the decision was from the Lord. As such, there should be NO COMPLAINTS from that person as to how his life turned out.

If he wound up with a nagging wife, poverty, a horrifying job that won’t pay the bills and where the boss is worse than Ebenezer Scrooge before his change of heart, he would have to acknowledge, “This must be the will of the Lord for my life.” In other words, stick to Scripture, apply its precepts to your life, pray for guidance, and live your life to the glory of God. And do so without testing Him to see what He “really” wants for your life by casting lots.

Lord God, we don’t have any way of looking into the future and seeing how we should make our life decisions. But You have given us Your word to apply to our lives, our conduct, and our doctrine. You have also given us the right to come to the throne of grace through prayer and ask for Your will to be done in our lives. May we pursue these avenues, and may we glorify You in each decision we make. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 1:25

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” Acts 1:25

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction 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 verse, the apostles prayed that the Lord would reveal which of the two candidates to replace Judas was to be chosen. That prayer continues with the words, “to take part in this ministry.”

Here, the same word as was used in 1:17, kléros, or “lot,” is used again (although some texts use the word “place” instead of “lot”). This word signifies the casting of the lot. The Lord is the director of the lot (see the commentary on 1:17). As such, Jesus’ decision concerning apostolic appointment was authoritative because He is the Lord.

Having rightly interpreted the Scriptures concerning what happened to Judas (as noted in verses 20 and 21), Peter and those with him are clearly directed to replace him with a suitable candidate in order to further the ministry, which is – as the prayer next states – “an apostleship.”

Not only were they to fill a void in the ministry, but they were to do so in accord with the apostolic ministry. The term “apostle” signifies one who is sent. There is a close connection between the two. Just as an ambassador personally represents the nation or leader of a nation, so the apostle is personally sent and bears the name (and/or title) of the one who sends him.

In this case, it is the apostleship “from which Judas by transgression fell.” In other words, due to his transgression, the apostleship was lost to him. Being dead, that is obvious, but it is specifically noted that the events which brought that about were because of transgression.

The word, translated as “transgression,” is a verb now used for the last of three times. It is a compound word, parabainó, coming from words signifying “beside” and “go.” Hence, it signifies willful, defiant stepping over a set line. A more literal and correct translation would be to simply say, “from which Judas fell away.”

The only other two uses of this word are found in Matthew 15 –

“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’
He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?’” Matthew 15:1-3

Judas’ actions caused him to fall away from his part (his allotted portion) in the ministry, so “that he might go to his own place.” The verb “go” is an infinitive. A more literal rendering would be, “fell away Judas to go to the place his own.” It’s not that he “might” go there. It is that his actions resulted in going there.

Further, the way the Greek words are stated, translated as “his own,” it is more intensive than simply saying “his.” It signifies that he is specifically designated for this place. This is reflected in the Lord’s words in John 17 –

“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” John 17:12

This explains the words “his own place.” The word “perdition” signifies destruction or cutting off. Judas is set to never receive an inheritance with those saved through the blood of Christ. Instead, he is forever cut off from such a hope.

This is the prayer that has been set forth by those gathered. Judas has lost his allotted portion due to his falling away. This must be corrected according to Scripture. Therefore, the apostles rightly take action to do so, first by praying, and next by doing what was the set custom in Israel for handling such matters. That will be seen in the coming verse.

Life application: It is a common teaching that the actions of the apostles are unsanctioned, and that the apostle to be chosen is not legitimate. This is because Paul clearly becomes an apostle of Jesus. The logic is that if this apostle is the twelfth, and there are supposed to be only twelve apostles, then it is Paul who is the rightful twelfth. Thus, this is an illegitimate appointment.

The reason this is accepted as such is because of what is stated in Revelation concerning the foundation stones of New Jerusalem –

“Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:14

It is an incorrect analysis, and it bears the exact same problem as the twelve gates of New Jerusalem –

“Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.” Revelation 21:12, 13

The “twelve tribes” of Israel as noted in Revelation 7 are not the same as the twelve sons born to Jacob. Manasseh is listed along with Joseph, while Ephraim and Dan are not named. The pattern of the fourteen names was described in a previous commentary, and it explains the pattern set forth for the “tribes (sons) of Israel” and the “twelve (fourteen) apostles.”

The question of which tribes of Israel will be inscribed on the gates, and which apostles will be named on the foundations, is an incorrect way of looking at what is said in Revelation.

The point of the symbolism given there is that of the unity of government (the number twelve). Just as there were actually fourteen sons of Israel (Jacob adopted Ephraim and Manasseh for inheritance purposes), and as those sons are variously listed in the rest of Scripture, there are fourteen named apostles (Judas, Matthias, and Paul all reckoned in this). Thus, the “names” of the sons of Israel on the gates, and the “names” of the apostles on the foundation, do not have to be their actual names at all. Rather, this is simply a way of saying that the proclamation of these is united. That proclamation is JESUS!

He is the focus of everything going on in Scripture. The tribes of Israel anticipated Messiah, and the apostles proclaimed Messiah that had come. This is actually seen in Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 3:11 –

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

When we lose our focus on what the Bible is pointing to, we make the error of inserting our own presuppositions into what is being conveyed. When the apostles gathered together in Acts 1 to choose a successor for Judas, they did not err. Rather, they have been obedient to Scripture in choosing a replacement for the one who fell away.

Let each of us likewise be obedient to the word as it is set before us, taking it in context and applying its precepts to our own lives.

Lord God, Your word often has difficulties in it that arise in what is said. And yet, if we take the word as a whole, we can often find out the resolution to the difficulty. It just takes study, contemplation, and setting aside our own presuppositions. So, Lord, help us to be faithful in pursuing Your word all our days. Amen.

 

 

 

Acts 1:24

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen Acts 1:24

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction 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). 

With the proposal of either Joseph or Matthias to replace Judas, it now says, “And they prayed and said.” This is not only the apostles, but all of the disciples, as is noted in verse 1:15. Peter had stood up among them all to speak, and that discourse continues now. This certainly would have included the women as it notes that the women were included in prayer in verse 1:14. The entire group is together, the candidates have been set forth, and so now the prayer is given, beginning with, “You, O Lord.”

This is an interesting phrase because it is believed by some to be speaking of Jesus. This is explained by the scholar Olshausen –

“The word ‘Lord,’ placed absolutely, denotes in the New Testament almost universally THE SON; and the words, ‘Show whom Thou hast chosen,’ are decisive. The apostles are just Christ’s messengers: It is He that sends them, and of Him they bear witness. Here, therefore, we have the first example of a prayer offered to the exalted Redeemer; furnishing indirectly the strongest proof of His divinity.”

This is probably correct. It would be appropriate to pray to Jesus. It would would mean the person was selected by Jesus. Obviously, Jesus is God. But the point is that they are appealing to “You, O Lord,” specifically. It is He “who knows the hearts of all.”

The Greek word, kardiognóstés, is used here. It is found only here and in Acts 15:8, and it is not found in any other Greek writers. It is a noun literally meaning “heart knower,” coming from the words kardía, meaning “heart” and ginōskō, signifying to “experientially know.” Thus, God is “the one who knows all the inner workings of every person’s heart, i.e. all their moral preferences (convictions)” (HELPS Word Studies).

As noted, the word is also only found in Acts 15:8 –

“So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:8, 9

There, “God” is said to be the “heart-knower.” But this does not exclude Jesus as such. In fact, in Revelation 2, He explicitly says that He searches hearts –

“I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:23

But this is also said to be something that is accomplished by the Spirit –

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26, 27

Understanding this, we can then go to the Old Testament and see how these things tie together when reading Solomon’s prayer to Yehovah Elohim, or “the Lord God” –

“then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men), 40 that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.” 1 Kings 8:39, 40

What is clearly being revealed is the doctrine of the Trinity. There is one God who has expressed Himself in this Triune manner. Thus, the Lord (Yehovah) of the Old Testament is revealed in Jesus of the New. As such, the prayer is to the Lord (Jesus, who is God) petitioning Him to “show which of these two You have chosen.”

As noted, it is Jesus (the Lord) who selects His apostles (see John 6:70). As such, the appeal is surely made to Jesus that He would select a replacement for Judas accordingly in order to fulfill Scripture.

Life application: An argument for the prayer of this verse having been made to Jesus has been made. That can be argued against based on a prayer found in Acts 4 –

So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” Acts 4:24-30

One could say that this prayer is made to God, calling Him “Lord.” However, the word used in Acts 4:24, despotés, is also used when speaking of Jesus in Jude 1:4. Thus, there is no reason to assume that the apostles are not praying to Jesus – who is God – while praying to God. Whether they had a developed knowledge of the Trinity or not, they knew quite clearly that Jesus is the incarnate Lord (Yehovah).

An argument against the Trinity is that the term itself is not used in Scripture. But that is an argument from silence. The doctrine of original sin is not mentioned, and yet it is taught. The word “rapture” is not found in Scripture, but it is taught. Likewise, the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. And yet, there is one God.

Lord God, Your word is large, and it is complicated at times. But with proper study, we can learn things that are evident, even if they are not openly expressed. Help us to search these treasures out and then to accept them when they are clearly seen. May our doctrine be pure and may our understanding of You be proper. Amen.