August 19, 2013

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe


Topic #II: The Church in Jerusalem, Acts 2.1-8.3

Subtopic C: The Church Ministering in Jerusalem (Acts 3.1-8.3)                    


Lesson II.C.2: A Warning to Israel: Peter’s Sermon (3.12-26)



Acts 3.12-26 (KJV)


12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 

13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 

14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 

15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 

16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 

17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 

18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 

19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 

20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 

22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 

23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 

24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 

25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 

26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.



Introduction


In this passage we can observe the difference in the manner of working miracles. Our Lord always spoke like One having Almighty power, never hesitated to receive the greatest honor that was given to him on account of his Divine miracles. But the apostles referred all the glory to their Lord, and refused to receive any honor themselves, except as his undeserving instruments. This shows that Jesus was one with the Father, and co-equal with Him; while the apostles knew that they were weak, sinful men, and dependent for everything on Jesus, whose power effected the cure of the crippled man. Useful men must be very humble. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name, give glory. Every crown must be cast at the feet of Christ. The apostle showed the Jews the greatness and terribleness of their crime, but would not anger or drive them to despair. Assuredly, those who reject, refuse, or deny Christ, do it through ignorance; but this can in no case be an excuse.



Commentary


12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 


“And when Peter saw it;” that is, when he saw that the people ran to them, and looked thoughtfully at them, and wondered what has just happened and who did it; he answered (or, he said) unto the people, ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? 



The words "He answered," in this day and age, implies that a question had been asked, or that some subject had been proposed for consideration. But the word “answered” is used in a different sense in the Bible. It is often used when no question was asked, but when an occasion was presented for remarks, or when an opportunity to make a statement occurred. It is the same as replying, or making a statement in regard to some subject (See Daniel 2:26; Acts 5:8).



When Peter said, “Why marvel ye at this?” it was not because he wanted to scold them for wondering about what had just transpired, since that was  an appropriate reaction; but that they thought he and John were the authors of this healing. They should have understood what had happened. The Jews were well-enough acquainted with miracles to interpret them and to know where they came from; therefore, they should not attribute them to man, but rather, simply to inquire why they had been performed by God.



“Or why look ye so earnestly on us”; which suggests that they should look to God instead, and observe His divine power, and to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they had crucified, whose apostles they were, and in whose name, and by whose power they had brought about this miracle; which shows that they were not self-seeking, vain, and boastful men, but sincere and honorable men who love Christ very much, and who desire to honor Him, and bring glory to God. So, Peter is making a statement intended to get their attention off him and John, and on God, where it belongs—“Why do ye fix the eyes with amazement on us, as though we could do this? Why not look at once to God?”



“As though by our own power and holiness we had made this man to walk?” This sentence assumes certain questions concerning the healing of the crippled man: “Do you think it was through any natural power we possess; or due to any virtue of ours, because of our strict religion and godliness; or our commendable conversation; by any healing art or any medicine we provided; because we are greater and holier than others, that we have a knack for curing lame persons; all which they totally reject, and credit it to the right account in the next verse. 



Instead of "holiness" (or, piety), some render it "authority", which seems to go well with the idea expressed here.  Did these people really believe God had bestowed the power to heal on us on account of our personal and exceptional piety? It should be noted that here was a great opportunity for them to establish a reputation for themselves. The people were prepared to pay them honor; they might have immediately, and on the spot, laid claim to considerable authority over them; but they refused all such personal honor, and attributed it all to the Lord Jesus. Years ago, I attended a testimony service where a young man praised the pastor for “saving him.” Of course, I understood that He did not really think his pastor had that kind of power, and when church was over the pastor made sure he understood that people are saved only by the power of God, designed to honor his Son. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). It is faith in Jesus that saves. Whatever success may come to the ministers of the gospel, or however much the world may be inclined to honor them, they should repudiate all claims that they have power in themselves, and give all the credit to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not by the talents or personal holiness of ministers, valuable as these are, that anyone is saved.



Peter wisely takes advantage of the crowd, but he knew that the phenomenon of the miraculous in itself brought no one to Jesus, it merely aroused interest.  Though they were greatly amazed, they weren’t saved yet! Peter knew that saving faith did not come by seeing or hearing about miracles, rather “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Peter denies that the healing is due to either his power or godliness.  Many “healers” today who would never claim to heal in their own power still give the impression that healing happens because they are so spiritual, so close to God, or so godly.  Peter knew that it was all of Jesus and nothing was of him.


 

Peter’s point is simple: Jesus healed all sorts of people when He walked this earth, so why should it seem strange that He continues to heal from heaven?



13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 



“The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob” are titles and epithets of God, which are used in the Old Testament—“Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:6). The apostle chooses to retain these titles, partly to distinguish Him from the gods of the Gentiles, and partly to show his high regard for the God of Israel, the one, only true, and living God; and even though he and his fellow apostles were preachers of Christ, they would not set up another, or a new god, because they believed in the same God their forefathers did, and to Him they ascribe the glory of this miracle.



In our modern world, there are so many different (and strange) ideas about God, therefore it is helpful for us to be clear about which God we serve and speak about.  We can say “God” when talking to someone else, without realizing that our idea of God and their idea of God are completely different.  Perhaps it would be helpful for us to more carefully define the God we are speaking of: The God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.



It was important to show that the God who had healed this crippled man was the same God their fathers worshipped, and that they were not to introduce the worship of any other God. And it was especially important, because the promise had been made to Abraham that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). And in Galatians 3:16 we read, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Peter was wise to introduce them to this notion, because it showed them that He whom they called their God had acknowledged Jesus Christ as His Son, and produced this miracle in His name; and, in that way honoring Jesus whom they slew—he charged them with that murder and he drove it home, so they felt guilty.



 Were the Jews guilty of the death of Jesus?  Yes, but so were the Gentiles.  The Romans would not have crucified Jesus without the Jews, and the Jews could not have crucified Jesus without the Romans.  God made certain that both Jew and Gentile shared in the guilt of Jesus’ death.  In fact, it was not political intrigue or circumstances that put Jesus on the cross.  It was our sin.  If you want to know who put Jesus on the cross, look at me – or look in the mirror.



“Hath glorified” means has honored. You denied, despised, and murdered Him, but God has exalted and honored Him. God has glorified his Son Jesus; by raising him from the dead, setting him at his own right hand, and giving him the gifts of the Spirit; which he bestowed on the apostles, and by virtue of this they produced this miracle, which was a means of setting forth the glory of Christ, and of creating in men the desire to glorify Him, or assigning honor and glory to Him. And in order to awaken their minds, to convict them of their sin, ingratitude, and folly, the apostle adds, This miracle was done in the "name" of Jesus—“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). It was the "power of God" that had restored the man; and by displaying this power in a miracle that many had witnessed, God had shown that he approved the work of His Son, and was willing to honor Him in plain view of people. 



“Ye delivered up,” that is, you delivered him to the Romans to be put to death. 


 

“And denied him in the presence of Pilate (the Roman governor),” indicates that some in the crowd that day were present when Jesus was put on trial at Pilate’s palace. They denied that he was the Messiah. They were unwilling to accept Him as their long-expected King—“But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).



Pilate was persuaded of His innocence, and “he was determined to let him go”; but he was weak, timid, and indecisive, and he yielded to their wishes—“But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” The fact that Pilate regarded Him as innocent made their crime worse. They should have considered him innocent; but they pressured Pilate to have Him crucified, and that showed how adamantly they were resolved that He should be put to death. Take note of the heroic courage of Peter here, as he charges his hearers with the heaviest of all conceivable crimes, and of the terrific strength of language in which these charges are clothed!



14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 


The word in the Hebrew which is translated here as "Holy One" means "One who is tenderly and piously devoted to another," and corresponds to the expression used in the New Testament, "my beloved Son." It is also used by Peter, to indicate "One that is holy, that is set apart to God." In this sense it is applied to Christ, either as His being set apart to the office of Savior, or as Him being so pure that it is proper to designate him by means of His eminence the Holy One, or the Holy One of God. It is used several times as the well-known designation of the Messiah: Mark 1:24, "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God"; Luke 4:34; Acts 3:14, "But ye denied the Holy One, and the just…” Luke 1:35, "That holy thing that is born of thee shall be called the Son of God." 



The word "just," as it is used here means "innocent," or "one who was free from crime." It is used in reference to law, and denotes "one who stands upright in the view of the law, or who is not chargeable with crime." In this sense, the Lord Jesus was not only personally innocent, but even before his judges he stood innocent of any crime. The first crime with which He was charged was blasphemy—“Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy” (Matthew 26:65), and the Sanhedrin condemned him on this charge without proof. But Pilate refused to acknowledge the validity of this charge, and therefore they charged him with sedition—“And they began to accuse him, saying , We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King” (Luke 23:2). Neither of these charges were true, and of course, in the eye of the law, he was innocent and just. What made their crime so bad was that they demanded his death, even after it was established that they could prove nothing against Him, thus showing that it was mere hatred and meanness that led them to seek His death.



But ye denied the Holy One, and the just, of course, refers to Jesus Christ, who is "holy" in both His divine and human natures, and the fountain of holiness to His people—“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10)—and He is "just" or "righteous,” both in His person, and in the discharge of His office, and has produced a righteousness for his people, which is imputed to them. These characteristics of our Lord may have to do with His purity as a man, and to the innocence of His life, and the harmlessness of His actions, in opposition to the unjust charges of His enemies, and the shameful and dreadful treatment He received at the hands of those who denied that He was the Christ, the Redeemer and Saviour. 



Peter boldly lays the guilt of Jesus’ death squarely where it belongs.  Pilate, the Roman governor, was determined to let Him go, but the Jewish mob insisted on the crucifixion of Jesus (See John 18:29-19:16) .When Pilate gave them a choice of who he would release to them, Christ or Barabbas, they demanded the release of Barabbas, a thief, and a robber, who, along with others, had provoked an insurrection and committed murder; and after he agreed to their request, he asked them what he should do with Christ, to which they replied by shouting, “Crucify Him!” They desired an act of mercy for Barabbas, and a sentence of death for Christ and that it should be the most shameful, dreadful, and painful possible. When Barabbas left his cell that day, he fully expected that he would be put to death; but instead, he was free and Jesus of Nazareth would die in his place; but Jesus did not only take his place; He took my place and yours too—the innocent suffered and died for the guilty and ungodly.



Were the Jews guilty of the death of Jesus?  Yes, but so were the Gentiles.  The Romans would not have crucified Jesus without the Jews, and the Jews could not have crucified Jesus without the Romans.  God made certain that both Jew and Gentile shared in the guilt of Jesus’ death.  In fact, it was not political intrigue or circumstances that put Jesus on the cross.  It was our sin.  If you want to know who put Jesus on the cross, look at me – or look in the mirror.

 


Peter was not afraid to confront their sin, and he shows amazing boldness.  “One commentator says that the miracle of the speech of Peter is a far more wonderful one than the miracle wrought in the healing of the man who lay at the Beautiful Gate.” (Morgan)

 


15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 


The charge Peter made against the Jews was that they “killed the Prince of life,” or author of life; natural, spiritual, and eternal. Jesus, who is not only the living God, and has life in himself; but as man, he had power over his own life, such as no man ever had before or since; and He is the author of a spiritual resurrection from the death of sin, to a life of grace, and has procured eternal life for his people, and gives it to them. This Lord of life and glory was the one they crucified, only a few weeks earlier. His death is laid at their feet because it was at their request, and through their instigation, and at their fierce insistence, that Pilate condemned Him to death, and gave Him to his soldiers for the express purpose of crucifying Him.



The word "life,” as it is used here takes in "all manner of life." In this sense it is used in reference to Christ in John 1:4, "In him was life." (Also see John 5:26; 1 John 5:11; 1 Corinthians 15:45.). “The Prince of life” is a remarkable title given to our Lord by the apostle, perhaps to elicit a comparison between him whom they preferred (Barabbas) and Him whom they rejected (Jesus). Barabbas was a murderer, one who took away human life for his own wicked ends; the other was the Prince and Author of life, who was come into the world, not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. Jesus himself speaks about his own great prerogative of giving life, in many places: "I am come that they might have life, and.., have it more abundantly" (John 10:10); "I am that Bread of life;" "I am the living Bread ... if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever;" "I give... my flesh for the life of the world;" "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;" "They that hear shall live;" "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;" "The Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should... have eternal life;" "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Jesus is the author of all life: not only implying that all life proceeds from Jesus Christ as its source, but that the life-giving influence of that religion which they were now proclaiming came through Him. In Hebrews 2:10, Christ is called the Captain of salvation. He teaches that the doctrine of life and salvation, leads the way in which men should walk, and has purchased the eternal life and glory which are to be enjoyed at the end of life’s highway.



God has “raised from the dead” the man they crucified, in spite of all their viciousness and malice, so that they were not able to do what they wanted; not being able to retain Jesus under the power of death, and under the shame and reproach of the cross. Peter mentions this because it was Jesus Christ, “whom God hath raised from the dead” who bestowed upon the apostles the gifts and power to do the miracles they did.



“Whereof we are witnesses” refers to the Twelve, all of whom had seen the risen Lord, and to the forty days after His resurrection during which Jesus met with His apostles, talked with them, ate with them and was seen by five hundred at one time; therefore he could say, "whose witnesses we are.” He and the other apostles could testify concerning His person, office, grace, righteousness, and resurrection because they were eyewitnesses; they had the proof and plenty of it, and were capable presenting it in a convincing manner; and this is the purpose for which they were chosen and appointed. We are witnesses. Observe how prominent in the early preaching is the resurrection and the apostolic witness to it.



16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 


"His name" is used here for Jesus himself, and it is the same as saying “And He through faith in Him hath made this man strong," etc. The word “name” is often used in this way by the Hebrews, especially when speaking of God (See Acts 1:15; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 1:21 Revelation 3:4.). It does not mean that there was any power in the mere name of Jesus that would heal the man, but that it was done by Jesus authority and power. Also, Peter does not take the credit for the healing, but gives it all to Jesus.



“Through faith in his name” means through faith in Him; that is, in this case the cure came through the faith which Peter and John had in Jesus. It does not refer to any faith that the man had, and there is no evidence that he believed in Him before this. But it was by means of the faith which the apostles exercised on the man’s behalf that the miracle was performed, and it was another fulfillment of the declaration in Matthew 17:20, which says: "And Jesus said unto them…for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Peter repeats this truth two or three times in the verse to impress it more distinctly on the minds of his hearers.



Although, I said it was the faith of the apostles that brought healing to this formerly crippled man, many commentators say it is not quite clear whether the apostle refers to his own faith in Jesus, or to the faith of the lame man. It is true Christ had promised that they could perform miracles in His name (See Mark 16:17, 18.), and that whatsoever they asked of the Father in His name, He would grant it (John 16:23). And they might have been led at this time to request that God enable them to work this miracle; and the faith they had in his unlimited power and unchangeable truth might have induced them to make this request. Or, the faith might have been that of the lame man; the apostles, at the time they asked him to look on them, might have taught him the necessity of believing in Christ in order for him to be healed; and the man's mind might have been prepared for this by the miracle of the gift of tongues, of which he must have heard; and heard that this mighty outpouring of the Spirit had come in the name and through the power of Christ. There is still another explanation for this man’s healing which has just occurred to me; it may not have been due to faith at all, but for the purpose of bringing glory to God and the Lord Jesus, which occurs from time to time in the New Testament. However the faith may be understood, it was only the means to receive the blessing, which the apostles most positively attribute, not to their power or holiness, but to Jesus Christ alone. Faith always receives; never gives.



This poor man who before must be carried from place to place was extremely weak and his limbs must have atrophied from lack of use; but Christ has made him strong; strengthening the parts that were feeble, his feet and ankles, so that he could use them, and walk with them. What do you think he would want to do first? Perhaps he had a mother who prayed for him every day; would he want to go for a walk with her? Or maybe he would go show himself to those friends who faithfully carried him. Could he want to do something he had never done before; go into the Temple and worship his Savior with Peter and John? We will follow this man through this and the next Chapter, and see what he does.



“Whom ye see and know” implies that there could be no mistake, because he was well known to them. There was no doubt about the truth of the miracle, which is confirmed by Acts 4:16—“Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it”—and the only question was: How had it been done? This Peter acknowledges has been accomplished by the power of the Lord Jesus. It happened in a public place, in the presence of you all; not in a corner, but near the gate of the temple; you saw in what manner it was done, so that nothing about it could be falsified, and you may examine him immediately.



The word translated here as “perfect soundness” is not used anywhere else in the New Testament. It means "integrity of parts, freedom from any defect"; and it is used here to show that the cure was perfect and complete, or that he was completely restored to the use of his limbs, which they saw with their own eyes while the man was leaping and dancing before them. 



“In the presence of you all” is like saying, “You are all witnesses of it, and can judge for yourselves.” This shows how confident the apostles were that a real miracle had been performed. They were willing for the man to be examined; and this is conclusive proof that there was no attempt at faking the cure. A deceiver, or one who pretended to work miracles, would have been cautious about exposing the subject to the danger of detection.



17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 


And now, brethren, 

In spite of the fact that the Jews had been guilty of crucifying their Messiah, Peter showed compassion in dealing with them—he addressed them as “brethren.” He still regarded them as his brethren in the flesh, of the same nation as himself, entitled to claim the same promises, the same privileges, and the same hope.  He was not disposed to exalt himself above his brethren from the natural standpoint, he was not “holier than thou.” He realized the difference between himself and his nation was that he had received the Messiah, and they had REJECTED HIM and DEMANDED HIS DEATH.



Peter by no means considered the Jews free from blame in crucifying their Messiah; he was simply holding out to them hope and mercy from a longsuffering God. If they would repent of their sins and believe on Jesus, God would forgive them and save them through the shed blood of His beloved Son.



I wot that through ignorance ye did it, 

“I wot” (I know) that you did it in Ignorance.” Peter did not mean that the Jews were innocent in what they had done, but rather that they had crucified Jesus because of ignorance in their hearts concerning Him. They did not recognize Him because they did not believe the Old Testament prophecies concerning His coming. If they had believer Moses, they would have believed Jesus.



In the Old Testament Law, there is a difference between deliberate sins and sins of ignorance (See Lev. 4-5; Num. 15.22-31). The person who sinned arrogantly was a rebel against God and was guilty of a great sin. He was to be “cut off” from the people (Num. 15.30, 31), which could mean excommunication and even death. The defiant “high-handed” sinner was condemned, but the person who sinned unwittingly and without deliberate intent was given the opportunity to seek God’s forgiveness. Ignorance does not remove the sinner’s guilt, but it does mitigate the circumstances.



Jesus had prayed, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23.34); and God had answered that prayer. Instead of sending judgment, He sent the Holy Spirit to empower His church and to convict lost sinners. Israel’s situation was something like that of the “manslayer” who killed his neighbor without prior malicious intent, and fled to the nearest city of refuge (Num. 35.9-34). So long as he remained in the city, he was safe, because as long as he was there the avengers could not reach him and kill him. He was free to go home only after the death of the high priest. Peter invited these “murders” to flee by faith to Jesus Christ and find refuge in Him—“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us” (Heb. 6.18).



as did also your rulers.

There is no doubt that the great majority of the Jewish people were ignorant of the identity of Jesus. They believed that He was a great teacher—but they did not believe him to be their Messiah. The outstanding religious leaders and rulers certainly did not believe Jesus was Messiah, because in 1 Corinthians 2.7,8 Paul declared, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; FOR HAD THEY KNOWN, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CRUCIFIED THE LORD OF GLORY.” 



The scribes and Pharisees carried a burning hatred for Jesus and were determined to find some means whereby they could put Him to death. They had many opportunities to know His true character and to recognize Him as the One for whom they waited. They were exposed to miracles such as no mortal could perform, but they were blinded, willing ignorant, refusing to recognize in those miracles the unmistakable evidence that Jesus was their promised Messiah—and the Scripture makes it clear that they did not believe Him to be the Son of God, because in John 19.7, when they brought him before Pilate, they said, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." 



Even the Sanhedrin was influenced by the hatred of the chief priests and other religious leaders (and the members of that body who did think Jesus was being unjustly condemned lacked the courage to resist the chief priests and Pharisees). There was one Pharisee, however, who stood up for Jesus on another occasion, but not when our Lord’s life was at stake—“Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" They answered and said to him, "Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee." And everyone went to his own house” (John, 7.50-53).



18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 


The past deeds of the Israelites called for a course of action. That action is repentance and conversion. This was not a new message to them. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43.25).



The Old Testament prophets wrote about the coming of the Messiah and the suffering He would have to endure:

Genesis 3.15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

(Zech. 12.10):"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” 

Also see Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.



God continued to leave the door that leads to eternal life open to the Jews—they had the opportunity to repent. Though they crucified Him in ignorance, the suffering of Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. In Acts 17.3 it is said of Paul, “He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, "This Jesus I'm telling you about is the Messiah." And in Acts 26.22, 23 he said, "So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."



19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 

20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 


These are interesting verses and of great importance, but they can be understood in the right way only if we keep in mind the fact that they were spoken to Israel, not to Gentiles. Peter was speaking to his own people, and these words were the heart of his message.



There are mysteries here which the human mind cannot fully comprehend, so we must accept them by faith. God had a plan from all eternity, yet His plan did not force men to act against their own will. The prophets had foretold the sufferings and death of the Messiah, and the nation fulfilled these prophesies without realizing what they were doing. When God cannot rule, He overrules and always accomplishes His divine purposes and decrees.



Repent ye therefore, and be converted, 

Now Peter challenged the Jews to repent of their sins and turn to God. This would mean reversing their opinion about Christ, and acknowledging the wrong they had done in denying Him. They must repent of their sin and confess that His blood was on their hands. Then God would “blot out” their sins and forgive them, as promised in Isaiah 43.25—“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” The message of repentance was not new to the Jews, for John the Baptist had preached it and so had Jesus—“Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (John 3.1, 2) (Also see Matt. 4.17).



“Be converted” means to turn around from sin to God. This would mean reversing their opinion about Jesus and confessing Him as God’s Messiah. In His sovereignty, God knows that the glorious day will come when Israel will receive Messiah; “they will look on Him whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12.10), they will recognize Him and claim Him as their own (Zech. 14.4-9). Knowing this, God said, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed you. Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel” (Isaiah 44.22, 23). So sure are God’s promises that they are recorded here as having already been fulfilled!



that your sins may be blotted out, 

Peter tells them that if they will receive Jesus as their long awaited Messiah; “that your sins may be blotted out,” and they will enjoy the “times of refreshing” promised by the Old Testament prophets. Sin cannot be forgiven before the sinner repents of his sin. Repentance must precede pardon. 



when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 

“Times” means epoch, era, or season, and it refers to features and events that will be part of His earthly kingdom reign, which will begin at His Second coming (Matt. 25.21-34). The exact time, however, remains unknown to everyone except God. Two descriptions are given of the coming era of the millennial kingdom. This is clear because they bracket the reference to Jesus Christ being sent from God to bring those times. Peter points to Christ’s earthly reign.



The “times of refreshing” and “the times of restitution of all things” (v.21) will be God’s final restoration of Israel. They will be gathered back into their own land, never to be scattered again.



And he shall send Jesus Christ, 

Here Peter is appealing to Israel as a nation. In chapter 2, verses 37-40, those individuals who were “pricked in their hearts” and convicted of sin were exhorted to save themselves from the “untoward generation” in which they lived; but in our present passage Peter was pleading for national repentance. If Israel would repent as a nation they would be delivered. God would “send Jesus Christ” to bring in the times foretold by the prophets. This was to remind them of God’s promises to Abraham, promises which had not been fulfilled and could be fulfilled only in and through their Messiah. They had missed Him because they did not understand the clear and often repeated promises in the Old Testament—promises of a re-gathered Israel established in their own land, under their own government, with their own King seated on the throne of David in Jerusalem. 



If they had accepted Jesus, would He have returned to the earth? The answer, of course in yes. Peter says He would have, and there are several other reasons for why God’s kingdom would have come to earth:

1. The word “restitution” in verse 21 is related to the word restore in Acts 1.6—“Then they gathered around him and asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" In both verses the restoration of the kingdom to Israel is anticipated—“They asked Him, saying, "Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" And He said to them, "Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? "But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him” (Mark 9.11-13). Jesus came the first time to seek and to save, but was rejected by those he came to save, but when he comes the second time it will be in power and glory and He will put down all rebellion and establish His kingdom.

2. The concept of restoration parallels regeneration when it is used concerning the kingdom—“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt. 9.28). “Ye” is the apostles. “In the regeneration” refers to the coming of the Lord the second time, and when the elect will begin to live a new life, that is to say, when they will enjoy the heavenly inheritance, both in body and soul. “When the Son of man shall sit, etc.” denotes the time of His final triumph over all evil. Christ shall sit on the throne of his glory and the apostles also shall have thrones.

3. There are two different purposes here, one is found in 19a, and the other in 19b and 20. In the former the appeal is to individuals to repent and believe in Christ, so that their sins may be forgiven and they might be saved. Then the latter purpose is for Israel as a whole to repent, which would bring about the Second Coming of Christ and the establishing of the kingdom (the times of refreshing).

4. The sending of the Christ, that is, Messiah, meant the coming of the kingdom.

5. The Old Testament “foretold these days” (v.24; v. 21). The Old Testament prophets did not predict the church; to them it was a mystery (Rom 16.25; Eph. 3.1-6). But the prophets often spoke of the messianic golden age, the Millennium.



Then what would have been God’s program after that, that is, if Israel had NOT rejected their Messiah? Let me tell you something that will be a secret between you and me: I don’t know what would have happened. Does that come as a surprise to anyone? Well, I have news for you. No one else knows either—no one except God. We can ask an almost infinite number of “if” questions to which there are no answers. All I know is that the Jews did not accept Jesus Christ. That is the only answer I know to the “if” question. Any other answer would be only the wildest speculation.



The conversion of Israel at some future time will trigger the return of the Messiah. It is the purpose of God to bring salvation to Israel before the coming of God’s kingdom—“And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness” (Rom. 11.26)—and Peter pled with Israel to receive this salvation.



Paul explains in Romans, chapter 9 through 11, that God has not forgotten His people Israel. They are blinded “for a season,” but the day is coming when the entire nation of Israel will be saved. God declared to his chosen people, "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jer. 31.3).



which before was preached unto you:

This offer of salvation and of the Millennium pointed both to God’s graciousness and to Israel’s unbelief. On the one hand God was giving the Jews an opportunity to repent after the sign of Christ’s resurrection. They had refused the “pre-Cross” Jesus; now they were being offered a post-resurrection Messiah. On the other hand Peter’s words underscore Israel’s rejection. They had been given the sign of Jonah but still they refused to believe—“And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16.31). In a real sense this message confirmed Israel’s unbelief.



God designated (appointed) the Messiah and He came as designated. He did the things the prophets declared He would do. Therefore Israel had no excuse for their sin of crucifying him. They should have recognized Him as the Promised one, so clearly foretold and described in their Scriptures.



Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

“Until the times” includes the entire span of time between the ascension and the Second Coming.



Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension are not the end of His redemptive work. He is to come again in power and to establish a new order free from evil and sin. This restoration will include the redemption of nature (Rom. 8.18-23) as well as the perfecting of human society when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. The “times of refreshing” are a present blessing; the establishing of “all that God” spoke…“by His holy prophets” is a future blessing; but both are the result of the redeeming work of the Messiah.



The Jews expected their promised Messiah to reign here on earth forever. They made this clear by their question in John 12.34. When Jesus explained that He must be lifted up from the earth to die on a cross, they cried out, “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever: and how sayeth thou, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”  Because of this belief they failed to see the clear prophesy in Isaiah 53 that Jesus would be crowned with thorns, and suffer death, before he was crowned with glory. They failed to understand that He would come as a lamb to the slaughter, before he came as King of kings, and therefore they rejected him, declaring that such a person could not possibly be their Messiah.



“Whom the heaven must receive” means that it was “fit and proper” that Jesus ascend back into heaven, into the presence of the Father; and the reason His ascension was fit and proper is given in His own words in John 16.7 as he explained to His disciples, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”



The Prophets spoke of the restitution of Israel to the land (Palestine) (See Gen. 12.2, 3; Rom. 11.26; and Deut. 30.1-9). They spoke also of the restoration of rule under David’s Son—referring, of course, to the Lord Jesus Christ who is of the lineage of David (Luke 1.31-33). The Jews expected the restoration at the time of his earthly ministry. “Until the times of restitution of all things” certainly implies that Jesus will return to earth at the appointed time, which is still in the future, and until that time He is “on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him” (1 Peter 3.22).



The things “which God hath spoken” refers to those things which God revealed to His prophets in the Old Testament era, things which are recorded in Old Testament Scripture. These things will all be literally fulfilled and accomplished as prophesied. Sin, Satan and all the evil of the universe can never cause one word of God’s promises to fail.



“Of all his holy prophets” does not mean that each of the prophets had spoken these things individually, but that all of them prophesied as they were moved by the Holy Spirit—yes, even all things spoken by the prophets “since the world began,” or from the beginning. Yes every prophesy—from the beginning through the book of Malachi and on up to the birth of Jesus would be fulfilled. Peter was trying to show the Jews, that he, too, held entirely to the prophesies foretold in the Old Testament, and that he was teaching no other doctrine than that which had been taught by the prophets before him. He was preaching and teaching that which was “since the world began.”



22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 


This verse and on down to verse 25 are quotes taken from the Old Testament.


For Moses truly said unto the fathers, 

This verse is probably a quote from Deuteronomy 18.15: "The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” Moses was revered by the Jews as their first and greatest prophet, and the Jews viewed the Prophet “like him” to refer to the Messiah. The authority of Moses was unquestionable among the Jews. His words were absolute and final. Therefore, it was necessary to show them that the apostles were not departing from the Law of Moses, they were not discarding or destroying the Law of Moses. On the contrary, Moses had prophesized the very things the apostles were preaching. Peter was attempting to prove that the One of whom Moses spoke, One greater than himself, was none other than Christ; He whom the Jews had crucified was truly the Messiah, the Promised One.



“For Moses truly said unto the fathers” indicates that Moses had spoken to the ancestors of these men to whom Peter was preaching: "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed—just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.' And the LORD said to me, 'They have rightly said all that they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him” (Deut.18.15-19).



A prophet is one who foretells future events, but in one sense a prophet forthtells what has been foretold. In the passage just quoted from Deuteronomy the word is evidently used in the sense of a prophet who would foretell (or prophesy), and whose prophecies would be infallible, prophesies which would direct the nation Israel in spiritual affairs.  This prophet would be commissioned by Almighty God in opposition to the false teachers mentioned in Deuteronomy 18.14. God would give Israel a true prophet.



Jesus came as God’s prophetic servant to call the people to obedience. The Jews did not accept him in this role. After His resurrection God appointed Him as Messiah. Later He will come again. This time He will demonstrate His authority as Messiah and establish the full authority of God.



A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; 

The Jews believed their Messiah would be a prophet. In John 1.21 they asked John the Baptist, “Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.” In John 6.14, when Jesus fed the five thousand from the scant supply of five loaves and two small fishes, the Jews declared, “Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.” In John 7.40, when Jesus offered the water of life the people said, “Of a truth this is the Prophet.” They believed that Messiah would be the greatest of all prophets, even greater than Moses; but when One greater than Moses came, they rejected Him and demanded His death.



It was prophesied that Messiah would be a Jew, a prophet, one of their own countrymen—“of your brethren”—and like Moses. And, in what ways will this prophet be like Moses? It will be in his intimacy and communication with God. Moses had a very intimate relationship with God and they spoke face to face: “Then He said, "Hear now My words: "If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?" (Num 12.6-8; Also see Heb. 3.2-6). Peter took it for granted that, in light of all he had just said, it would be understood immediately that only One could lay claim to being that prophet—the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.



him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Peter now points out that the Jews, by refusing to hear the Great Prophet (the Lord Jesus Christ), and by putting Him to death, had violated the clear command of Moses, their own law-giver, whom they trusted implicitly.



But God had raised this prophet from the dead, He had exalted Him and given Him the highest seat in heaven; and according to the words of Moses, it was still a matter of obligation on the part of the Jews to hear and obey the Messiah whom they had crucified.



This part of the prediction is forceful and insistent and was added in order to preserve the audience through the obedience of faith, on pain of being finally “cut off” from the congregation of the righteous—“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1.5).



Jesus fulfilled this prophesy in every respect. The idea pointed out in this verse is that God would “raise up” a prophet even as He had raised up Moses. The Jews believed that God had given them Moses, and Moses declared that God would raise up a Prophet whom they should hear “in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” They were to hear Him, and they were to obey Him, because whatever He said to them would be words from God. In other words, the Jews were to obey the words of Jesus as their forefathers had obeyed the words of Moses.



23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 


And it shall come to pass, 


This verse is quoted from Deuteronomy 19.19: “And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.” The Lord is saying, “Whoever will not listen to what Moses is saying in my name, my Word shall require it of him, or take vengeance on him”—the terrible consequences of unbelief in Christ, and disregard for His mission, the Jewish people have been experiencing for two thousand years.



that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, 

The Prophet of whom Moses wrote had spoken to them and they heard Him with their ears— but they did not hear Him with their hearts. In Acts 28.25-27 Paul said, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”



Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5.24). Jesus was “the Word Incarnate” (John 1.14), and the words He spoke were the words of God, because He spoke as God ordered.


 

What Peter declared to the Jews was simply this “Jesus was that Prophet” whom Moses said would come and every person who refused to hear the words of that Prophet would be destroyed. In John 5.9-13 we read: “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”



Jesus came exactly as prophesized, He spoke to the Jews, and He clearly declared He came from God, that He was God in flesh. He said, “I and the Father are one,” but they rejected His words and by doing so brought God’s judgment upon themselves. In A. D. 70 most of the Jews who heard (and rejected) Jesus were destroyed by Titus the Roman. They were destroyed physically and their souls plunged into everlasting hell! God’s prophesies and promises are absolute. Moses said a Prophet would come and He came as promised, Moses also promised that all who refused to hear “that Prophet” would be “destroyed from among the people.” In 70 A. D. it is estimated that as many as one million Jerusalem residents died and the rest were taken captive. All man can do is hear the Word and receive it; and it is better not to hear it at all than to hear it and reject it.



shall be destroyed from among the people.

Peter’s audience was in the precarious position of losing covenant blessings by rejecting the Messiah.



24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 


Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, 

Samuel was called a prophet in the Old Testament—“And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD” (1 Sam. 3.20). Although he did not directly prophesy about Christ, he did anoint David as king and speak of His kingdom (1 Sam. 13.14; 15.28; 16.13; 28.17), and the promises David received were and will be fulfilled in Christ (2 Sam. 7.10-16). Samuel is important for inaugurating a prophetic period in which “schools” of the prophets maintained a witness in Israel



Throughout the Old Testament era God’s prophets foretold the things that happened pertaining to the Lord Jesus—His birth, His life, His ministry, His death, burial, and resurrection. All the prophets prophesied concerning these things.



as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

“These days” is a reference to the incarnation of Jesus, who when he came into the world, brought with Him a new order that did away with the dietary laws, and the ordinances and rituals of the Jews, and set in motion “the time of reformation”—“Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation” (Heb. 9.10). “These days” were the days of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the days when God’s prophet would speak to His people and offer them salvation. The Jews rejection of Him made them especially guilty because the Jews were the privileged “sons of the prophet and the covenant.” They had sinned against a flood of light.



The prophesy of which Peter spoke of here is probably 2 Samuel 7.16: “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”



During the period between Moses and Samuel, God did not anoint and ordain a prophet. During those years God was consulted by Urim and Thummim: “And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually” (Ex. 28.30).  “And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out , and at his word they shall come in , both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation” (Num 27.21). During this period, no direct message was given by a messenger sent from God to instruct the nation Israel.


 

If the Jews had really listened to their own prophets, if they had really heard what Moses and Samuel had said, they would have listened to the Lord Jesus Christ, because He spoke the same truth and declared the same doctrine Moses and Samuel had declared in their prophesies concerning Him. He fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law (Matt. 5.17). “FOR CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH” (Romans 10.4).



25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 


Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers,  

This verse in quoted from Genesis 22.18—“And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice”; and Genesis 26.24—“The LORD appeared to him the same night and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham."  Jesus Christ was the ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant and its blessings—“God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn't say "to his children," as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says "to his child"—and that, of course, means Christ” (Gal. 3.16). Here Paul clearly explained that in God’s promise to Abraham, the “seed” referred to the coming Messiah. And from the human standpoint, it was through the seed of Abraham that Christ was born.



The Jews were children (natural heirs) of the prophets and of the covenant in the Hebrew sense of having a close participation in the covenant and prophesy leading to Messianic blessings. But their portion of the inheritance might either be lost by disbelief or bolstered by receiving the Servant God had raised up—Moses first, and then Jesus Christ.



The Jews professed to believe Abraham and Moses, they professed to be followers of their prophets; but they rejected the One whose coming the prophets foretold. Therefore, Peter reminded them that they were not only sons of the prophets, they were also sons of the fathers with whom God had made His covenant.



A covenant between God and man is sacred and certain, and this particular one was unconditional. It is sacred because God makes it—and man has no right to reject it, break it, or change its terms. It is certain because God does not repent of a covenant between Himself and man: He will fulfill that covenant precisely as it was made.  The covenant of which Peter is speaking is given in Genesis 12.1-3, and Genesis 22.18, where God promised Abraham that through him and his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed.  It was through the lineage of Abraham that the Redeemer was born.



saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

“Thy seed” refers to Abraham’s posterity in general, and to Jesus Christ in particular, since He will come from his seed to be a blessing to all the earth, by bring salvation based upon faith in Him. IN JRSUS all can be blessed. He came to provide salvation for all. But not all men will be blessed, not all men will be saved; but that does not alter the fact that all can be saved if they will hear the words of Jesus, believe in His finished work and shed blood, and accept him as Savior.



26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.


Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you,  

“Having raised up his Son Jesus,” does not refer here to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but to God having provided, prepared, and given “His Son Jesus.” He “sent Him to bless you”—lit., ‘sent Him blessing you,’ as if He were weighed down with blessings.



“Unto you first” refers to the promise given to Abraham, that the Messiah would come from his lineage; it included the Gentile peoples of the world; but He would be offered to the natural heirs of the covenant first to turn them from their “inequities.” Jesus instructed His disciples to preach the Gospel to the Jews first, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24.27). In Acts 1.8 He told them that they would receive power after the Holy Ghost came upon them, and that they would be witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” But the Jews had the Gospel first. They rejected it, and the message was then given to the Gentiles. The Jews received the Gospel first because they had all the privileges of past revelation, were better prepared, were God’s chosen instrument through who the Gentiles would be blessed, and the establishment of the kingdom depended and still depends on Israel’s response—And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11.26). The first Christians were Jews and the first missionaries were Jews. The belief that the Gospel will be presented to the Jews first runs throughout Acts and is also found in the writings of Paul. The Apostle Paul declared, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; TO THE JEW FIRST, and also to the Greek” (Rom 1.16). In Acts 28.28, Paul reminded the Jews that the Gospel had been given to them, they had rejected it, and therefore they were to understand, “that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”  Jesus came to the Jews—and they rejected His message. When He sent the twelve disciples to preach the Gospel, he instructed them, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10.5, 6). But they rejected His messengers.



“Son” is the word found in Acts 3.13, meaning servant—“The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.”



in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

It was a matter of national importance that Christ was sent to the chosen people. It was a moral matter requiring repentance, and it was personal, since each one needed to receive the personal Savior.



God sent Jesus to bless Israel “in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” The greatest blessing any mortal can receive is to be saved from sin—and the only way to be saved from sin is to receive the Lord Jesus who came into the world to take away the sin of the world (John 1.29). Sin is the source of every sorrow, woe, and heartache this world has ever known. No one can be happy in sin.  The world can give pleasure for a season, but true happiness is found only in Jesus. He does not bless men in sin, He saves them from their sins. 



This is something very important for us to see; Peter says, “For a long time, we have been looking for a Messiah who would shed outward blessings upon our nation generally, and through it upon the world. But we have learned other things, and now we announce them to you, that the great blessing the Messiah has come overloaded with is the turning away from every one of you his inequities.” Peter reveals in this passage divine skill, based upon facts, with which he drives home to the conscience of his listeners their guilt in crucifying the Lord of Glory; and then he soothes their awakened minds by assurances of forgiveness, and a glorious future, should they turn in faith to the Lord Jesus. He showed them from their own Scripture that they will not perish, and that all the blessings of salvation are theirs by submitting to Him.



Notice that Peter did not permit the “national blessings” to overshadow the personal responsibility of the individuals listening to His message. God raised up Jesus Christ and sent Him to each one who would turn away from his inequities (Acts 3.20). National repentance depends on personal repentance, the response of individual sinners to the message of salvation. Peter was addressing a large crowd, but he made the message personal.



This is a transition period. They were given their final chance to accept the Messiah. Because they turned down their opportunity to accept the Messiah, later on Paul would come on the scene as the apostle to the Gentiles. What might have happened if they turned is merely speculation. They did not turn to Him. God is never surprised by what man does, and He still works things out according to His plans and purposes.


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