September 30, 2014

 

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe

 

 

Topic #IV. The Church Advancing to the End of the Earth (Acts 13-28)   

                

Subtopic A: The First Missionary Journey (Acts 13, 14)                             

                                                                            

Lesson: IV.A.3: Part-2 Pisidian Antioch: Paul's Sermon & the Reaction (13:32-37)

 

Part 1: verses 14-31

Part 2: verses 32-37

Part 3: verses 38-41

Part 4: verses 42-52

 

 

PART 2: VERSES 32-37

 

 

Scripture (Acts 13:32-37; KJV)

 

32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

 

 

Commentary

 

32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

 

And we

“And we”—probably Paul and Barnabas.

 

Declare unto you glad tidings

“Declare unto you glad tidings”—The whole Gospel, which has to do with the incarnation, obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the benefits arising from them, such as peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; all which are good news and “glad tidings” to perceptive sinners; and which are declared and made known by the ministers of the Gospel, according to the commission they were given by God—such as that which Paul and Barnabas had received. They preached the Gospel, the “glad tidings.” To a Jew, nothing could be more gratifying news than that the Messiah had come; to a sinner convinced of his sins nothing can be more comforting and encouraging than to hear of a Saviour. The Jew, only had the promise which was made unto the fathers”; but today, we have the “glad tidings,” the good news from heaven that our salvation from sin and hell is available from Christ; who has fulfilled the promise made to their fathers; because He has raised up Jesus, just as it was written in the second Psalm, “You are My Son, this day have I begotten you” (Psalms 2:7).

 

How that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

“The promise”refers here to all that had been written in the Old Testament about the coming of Christ into the world, and His sufferings, death, and resurrection; but not only that, for it included His mission, the manifestation of His likeness in human beings, His personification as Jesus, the work He was to do, namely, to obtain salvation for His people; but, it primarily regards the promise of His coming into the world to do the will of God, which was made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah—“And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18)and exemplified by many deliverances, especially from Egypt and Babylon. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise made to the fathers. Notice that the promise that the apostles mention is not the land promise in the Old Testament.

 

 

33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

 

God hath fulfilled

“God hath fulfilled” ”the promise which was made unto the fathers” (v. 32) by the resurrection of Jesus. He does not say that every part of the promise had to do with His resurrection; but His being raised from the dead completed the fulfillment of the promises which had been made concerning Him. The “glad tidings” (v. 32) are about the promise, and the precise message which is the cause for gladness is contained in the announcement that the promise has been fulfilled.

 

The same unto us their children

God hath fulfilled “the same unto us their children.” By this sentenceis meant Paul and Barnabas, and the Jews in the synagogue, whose ancestors were the first to receive the promise mentioned immediately above. Some manuscripts (the better ones) have “the same unto our children,” which may have been changed in order to obtain what seemed to be a more natural meaning; but this greatly weakens the language, for what the audience whom St Paul addressed would desire was a fulfilment for themselves. Their children would inherit what they received, but a promise to be fulfilled to their children would not excite them as much as one in which they themselves would share. The Apostle Paul’s language, however, is just an echo of St. Peter’s—For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call, in Acts 2:39.

 

In that he hath raised up Jesus again

Some say that “In that he hath raised up Jesus again,” should not be understood as relating to His resurrection from the dead, since the promise made to the Jewish fathers, and now fulfilled in Christ, does not in any respect refer to that; but it concerns His being raised up, and sent forth into the world, to be a Saviour and Redeemer, and to sit upon the throne of David, as said in Acts 2:30“Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.”  The thought here, as well as the clause before us, is not the resurrection of Christ, but of raising Him up to regal dignity, as the only begotten Son of God, and the Savior of sinners. This idea is supported by the fact that the resurrection of the dead is spoken of in the next verse, as distinct from this.

 

On the other hand, many (probably most) translators take this clause “raised up Jesus again” to be about the resurrection of our Savior; and this idea is supported by the context; for the resurrection of Christ is put forward by the Apostle Paul in Acts 13:30 as his theme or argument to preach upon—“But God raised him from the dead” (Acts 13:30). There can be no reasonable doubt that “raised up,” means here, as in verse 44, raised from the dead, which we presume they were anxiously expecting. This is an essential part of the Apostle’s argument—the resurrection of Jesus— since it is a proof that He was the Messiah. He was also the first-begotten from the dead, the firstfruits of them that slept.

 

Which is it—you decide—but I prefer the latter.

 

As it is also written in the second psalm

In many manuscripts "the first Psalm,” or what we call the first, was regarded by the ancient Jews as only an introduction to the Psalter, which was considered to begin with the second psalm. Some even regarded the first and second psalms as one psalm. It is evident that this psalm belongs to the Messiah:

(1)   From the mention made of Him in Psalm 2:2; the mad counsel, and vain attempts of the kings of the earth against him.

(2)  From God's decree and resolution to make and declare Him King of Zion in Psalm 2:6, in spite of all their efforts against Him.

(3)   From his asking and having the Gentiles, and uttermost parts of the earth for his inheritance in Psalm 2:8, which is true of no one else.

(4)  From that reverence, worship, and adoration, which are to be given to Him, and that trust and confidence to be placed in Him, according to Psalm 2:10 which can by no means be meant of David or any mere creature whatsoever.

(5)  And from Psalm 2:7 which is cited in the two phrases that follow. What is said there is not applicable even to angels—“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” (Hebrews 1:5)—much less to David, or any mere man.

 

The whole psalm was interpreted by the ancient Jews to point to the Messiah, which was the opinion of some of their better professors. The resurrection is so very important, because if Christ had remained dead, He would not have been the true Son of God, neither would the covenant which was made with David have been sure.

 

Thou art my Son

This psalm has been widely understood to be Messianic, that is, referring to the Messiah; Jesus Christ—Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ” (Acts 4:25, 26). Christ was anointed by God, with the Holy Ghost, from His birth, and at His baptism, to be prophet, priest, and King. The apostle shows that the Messiah would be recognized as a king; that this was decreed by God, and that he had been begotten for this purpose. All this is shown as happening following the raging of the pagan, and the counsel of the kings against him, and must, therefore, refer, not to his eternal generation or His incarnation, but to something happening after his death; that is, to his resurrection, and His establishment as King at the right hand of God. Christ is called the Son of God for various reasons. In Luke 1:35, it is because he was begotten by the Holy Spirit—“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35). In this passage, it is on account of His resurrection. In Romans 1:4, it is also said that he was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead—“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).The resurrection from the dead is represented in some sense as the beginning of life, and it is with reference to this that the terms "Son," and "begotten from the dead," are used to express a thought similar to “the birth of a child is the beginning of life.” Accordingly, Christ is said, in Colossians 1:18, to be "the first-born from the dead,” and in Revelation 1:5; he is called "the first begotten of the dead"; and with reference to this restoration or beginning of life He is called a Son. And regardless of any other senses in which He is called a Son in the New Testament, the apostle has proved here:

(1)   That he is called a Son from his resurrection; and,

(2)  That this is the sense in which the expression is used in Romans 1:4 and Psalm 2.

 

This day have I begotten thee

“This day have I begotten thee”—it is evident that Paul uses the expression here to imply that the Lord Jesus is called the Son of God because he raised him up from the dead, and that he means to imply that it was for this reason that he is called the Son of God. This interpretation by an inspired apostle establishes the meaning of this passage in the psalm (Ps. 2), and proves that it is not used there with reference to his incarnation, but that he is called his Son because he was raised from the dead. And this interpretation agrees with the purpose of the psalm. In Psalms 2:1-3 the psalmist records the coming together of the rulers of the earth against the Messiah, and their efforts to cast off His reign. This was done, and the Messiah was rejected. All this pertains to the Messiah on the earth, not to his previous existence. In Psalm 2:4-5, the psalmist shows that their efforts would not be successful; that God would laugh at their tactics; that is, that their plans would not succeed.

 

Christ, who was begotten of the Father before the worlds were created, was declared before men and angels to be the Son of God, when he was raised from the dead in the power of an eternal life.The words "this day" would naturally, in the connection in which they are found, refer to the time when the "declaration" was made. The purpose was formed before Christ came into the world; it was executed or put into effect by the resurrection from the dead.

 

”Have I begotten thee”—this evidently cannot be understood in a literal sense. It literally refers to the relation of an earthly father to his children; but in no such sense can the term “begotten” be applied to the relationship of God the Father to the Son. It must, therefore, be figurative. The word sometimes figuratively means "to produce, to cause to exist in any way"; and the idea is expressed in other places in the Bible:

  • 2 Timothy 2:23: "Unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender (beget) strifes."
  • 1 Corinthians 4:15: "In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” Here, it refers to the work of the apostles in securing the conversion of sinners to the gospel.

·         Philemon 1:10: “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds. 

·         John 1:13: “Which were born (begotten), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”It is applied here to Christians. 

·         John 3:3:“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

 

In all these places it is used in a figurative sense to denote "the beginning of spiritual life by the power of God”; thus, he raised up Christ from the dead, and imparted life to his body; and hence, he is said figuratively to have begotten him from the dead, and in so doing sustains toward the risen Savior the relation of father.

 

It is against the whole sense of the New Testament to ascribe the origin of Christ's Sonship to His resurrection. It is not as if Christ at His resurrection began to be the Son of God; but, on that day He was seen to be so, since while he was in a human condition it was not so apparent.

 

 

34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

 

And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead

The verse coming before this one was not intended by the Apostle Paul to be a proof of the resurrection, as much as it was to show how faithful God was in fulfilling that promise spoken of there; here the apostle’s intention is to substantiate Christ’s resurrection, and show that it was in agreement with the prophesies which have to do with Him. And finally, He will show that He actually did it by quoting another passage of Scripture.

 

Now no more to return to corruption

It appears from this clause that Paul already has the words of Psalm 16:10 in his mind, though he has not as yet referred to it. For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10).

 

 “No more to return to corruption may have been added to show that Christ's resurrection was a final victory over death; not like that of Lazarus, or the Shunammite's son, or Jairus's daughter, but, as St. Paul himself says in Romans 6:9, "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him."He will never die again, and be laid in a grave, and there undergo corruption, which was the case of those mentioned above. It was also the case of those who were raised from the dead by the prophets, under the Old Testament, or by Christ himself, before his death and resurrection; for these were raised to a mortal life, and died again, and were buried, and saw corruption; but Christ was raised up from the dead, never to die again, but to live forever, having in his hands the keys of hell and death, and being the triumphant conqueror over death and the grave; in proof of which some verses are taken from the Old Testament, and appear in the remainder of this passage.

 

The word "corruption" is usually used to signify "putrefaction, or the rotting away of a body in the grave; its returning to its native dust." But it is certain that the body of Christ never in this sense saw corruption.

 

He said on this wise

That is, “God said so,” or “He said thus,” or “God said after this manner.” 

 

I will give you the sure mercies of David

“The sure mercies of David” are those which were promised to David. Now the mercies which were promised to David are all included in this, that by this Son of David (which our Lord and Saviour is frequently and truly called), God would erect and establish an everlasting kingdom; which could not be done, unless Christ rose again, and obtained the victory over death and the grave. All the promises God has made to his church in any age concerning Christ, are sure and faithful, holy and just.

 

Here he tells us that this eternal exemption of Christ from death was promised or implied in Isaiah 55:3—“Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” In this place “the sure mercies of David” means the blessings of the covenant of grace, which the Messiah by His sufferings and death was to ratify and secure for all His people. Now, if He had only died, and not been raised from the dead, these blessings would never have been ratified and made secure for them; therefore, when God promises His people that he will give them the “sure mercies of David,” or the Messiah, he promises that the Messiah shall not only die to procure mercies and blessings for them, but that He shall rise again from the dead, in order to make sure that they receive them.

 

“I will give you the sure mercies of David, or rather, “I will give you the holy and faithful mercies of David.” There is no word for “mercies” in the original; but the word rendered “holy” is one which is frequently used to represent the Hebrew word for “mercies.” Paul, when addressing the audience at Antioch used the Greek version, but without a doubt he thought like the Hebrew he was. But having this Greek rendering as an interpretation of the “everlasting covenant” of which Isaiah speaks in the verse he has quoted here; he connects the “holy and faithful things of David” with that verse of David’s Psalm (Psalms 16:10) which tells how God will not give his Holy One to see corruption—“For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10).

 

The word rendered "mercies" means “something that gives evidence of divine favor, such as blessings”; while the other word, "sure," points to the certainty with which they would all, through David's Seed, eventually be substantiated.  The coming of the Messiah was substantiated by those who sawHim as Jesus—God in human flesh—“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  But how do these words prove the resurrection of Christ? They take it as fact; for since an eternal kingdom was promised to David, the Ruler of this kingdom (Christ) could not remain under the power of death.

 

“The sure mercies of David,” that is, of the Messiah; David is a name frequently given to the Messiah, as in Jeremiah 30:9, seeing that David is a type of Christ, and the Messiah being a son of his; and who must be meant here. The blessings of the covenant are appropriately called "mercies", because they spring from the grace and mercy of God, and wonderfully display it, and are in the mercy shown to his people; and these are the mercies of David, or of Christ, because the covenant was made with David. These blessings were put into His hands for them, and come through his blood shed for them; and therefore they are said to be "sure" ones; they are in safe hands; Christ, who is entrusted with them, and faithfully distributes them; which requires that He must rise again, and live forever, to distribute them, or see that they are made to the persons for whom they are designed: besides, it is one of the sure mercies promised to David, to the Messiah himself, that though he died, and was laid in the grave, he should not remain there, but rise again, as the next verse most clearly shows—Jesus rising after three days, and David rising at the great and final resurrection. 

 

 

35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

 

Wherefore he saith also in another psalm

“Wherefore he saith, or better yet, “Because he saith.” These words of Psalms 16 which David was inspired to utter cannot refer to David, and Paul proceeds to explain this in Acts 2:29-31Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried , and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

 

“He saith”—God says through David, or David declared the promises made by God.

 

“Wherefore he saith also in another psalm”Psalm 16:10 or "in another place"; or "in another section"; or "elsewhere." “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). It is remarkable that St. Peter and St. Paul would both quote this sixteenth psalm, and use precisely the same argument, and to prove the same thingthat Jesus must rise and live forever.

 

Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption

This clause cannot refer to David, because the term "Holy One" is not applicable to him, since he was a man, and subject to infirmities and the effects of sin; at least not in the sense in which it would be appropriate to assign it to Christ, whose nature was holy, and his life without sin. Besides, David was laid in his grave, and saw corruption, which the apostle subsequently proves. The former part of this verse (Acts 16:10) is not cited here, "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell"; which was not absolutely necessary to mention, because it is clearly implied in the outcome of the resurrection; for if he would not be allowed “to see corruption,” then he could not be left in the grave: moreover, the apostle cites that which he intended to base his argument upon, as he afterwards does, and by it makes it obvious that the words do not belong to David, but to the Messiah, and are a clear and important proof of His resurrection from the dead.

 

36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

 

For David, after he had served his own generation

“For David”—this verse is designed to show that Psalm 16:1-11; could not refer to David, and must therefore relate to some other person.

 

“For David, after he had served his own generation”; or the men of that age and generation in which he lived, the subjects of his kingdom: he served them by governing them with good and practical laws, by protecting their rights and properties, by defending them against their enemies, by regulating and promoting the worship of God among them, by yielding himself an instrument for the accomplishment of God's will, and in this respect he was definitely "the man after God's own heart." After this was done, he "fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.”David, therefore (argues the apostle), could not be the subject of his own prediction, which had its proper fulfilment only in the resurrection of the uncorrupted body of the Son of God, who without doubt, was  God's "Holy One."

 

 There is an allusion to 2 Samuel 7:12 and 1 Kings 2:1, 10, and it is intimated that God was still caring for David in his death. But there was this vast difference between David and Christ. David’s work was limited to his own generation, and when that work was done he died and saw corruption. But Christ had a work to carry on for eternal generations, and so he rose and saw no corruption. There is, perhaps, a contrast suggested here between the limits within which the work of service to mankind done by any mere man, however great and powerful, is necessarily limited; and the wide, far-reaching, endless ministry to the whole human family which belongs to the Son of Man.But the contrast which most aids the Apostle’s argument is that, while David’s services could benefit only those among whom he lived, and could not be extended to other generations, Christ by His resurrection, never more to die and see corruption, is a Saviour for all generations, and remission of sins through Him can be promised to every one that believes.

 

By the will of God

This clause may be read in connection with the preceding one, "For David, after he had served his own generationby the will of God"; acted according to it, fulfilled it, and did what the Lord declared to him, or what he knew to be the will of God: but there are also those who teach that these words should be connected with the next clause, “By the will of God, fell on sleep.” It was by the will (literally, counsel) of God that David fell asleep when his life’s work was accomplished.

 

Fell on sleep

David, "by the will of God fell on sleep,” or died; which makes the sense that after he had done the work of his generation, which was chosen and cut out for him, he died by the decree and counsel of God, who has set limits to man's life, and has fixed the time of his death; no man dies before, or lives longer than the time determined and fixed by the will of God. David lived according to the will of God communicated to him in various ways, and he died when the will of God decreed it. Death is expressed by falling asleep; a way of speaking very common with the eastern nations, who represent it as an easy transition: it is not the annihilation of men; the dead are only fallen asleep, and will wake again in the resurrection. Until then they must rest in the grave, but at a time known only to God the saints will rise out of the grave, fresh and cheerful; and since a time of sleep is a time of inactivity, no work is done in the grave; and therefore, whatever we find to do, should be done in life. It is a long sleep; David has been dead for many hundreds of years, even thousands of years; and there will be no awaking out of it till Christ comes again: but this is to be understood of the body only, which only is capable of sleeping the sleep of death, and not of the soul, which does not die with the body, nor continues with it in the grave in a state of unawareness and inactivity, but immediately returns to God; and it is happy, and is involved in serving God, and Christ, in the fellowship of saints and angels, and in the work of praise and thanksgiving: thus, though David is fallen asleep in his body, he is present in spirit with the Lord; and that sweet psalmist of Israel is singing the songs of God in a much better manner than when he was here on earth. Blessed are they that sleep in Jesus, for they not only sleep quietly and safely, but shall surely rise again, for God will bring them with him; Christ is the first fruits of them, and they shall awake in his likeness.

 

And was laid unto his fathers

 It is further said of David, "and was laid unto his fathers", or was buried among his ancestors; his sepulcher is said to be in, where the kings of the house of David were buried; as well as David himself. Peter says in Acts 2:29 that his sepulcher remained buried in Mount Zion. And in we read in 1 Kings 2:10: “So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.”

 

And saw corruption;

His body putrefied in the grave, became a buffet for worms, and was reduced to rottenness and dust; and therefore the words of Psalm 16:10 could not be have been spoken of him—“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” See this point argued in depth by Peter in Acts 2:29-31: also see the notes in Acts 13:36. Now, this verse explains the previous verse, and brings the argument home, in that it proves that the words which came before could not refer to David, but to One that he typified and represented.

 

 

37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

 

But he whom God raised again

Another version adds, "from the dead"; meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, who was raised from the deadon the third day by God the Father, according to the gospel.

 

Saw no corruption

Christ did not lie long enough in the grave for His body to corrupt and putrefy, but was raised from the dead on the third day; therefore, the passage cited before (Acts 2:29-31) is very applicable to Him, and is a clear proof that the Messiah was to rise from the dead, as Jesus really did.“Saw no corruption,” means that Jesus was raised without undergoing the usual changes that come after death. Since David had returned to corruption, and the Lord Jesus had not, it followed that the passage in Psalm 16:1-11 referred to the Messiah.

 

 

 

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