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answerable proofs which have yet been furnished | close every pagan temple ; bring under its inof the truth of the Christian religion.
fluence the men of office, rank, and power; and 7. This book contains unanswerable evidence that “the banners of the faith would soon stream of the truth of the Christian religion. It is a from the palaces of the Cæsars.” All this would record of the early triumphs of Christianity. be accomplished by the instrumentality of Jews Within the space of thirty years after the death --of fishermen-of Nazarenes. They had neiof Christ, the gospel had been carried to all ther wealth, armies, nor allies. With the exparts of the civilized, and to no small portion of ception of Paul, they were men without learning. the uncivilized world. Its progress and its They were taught only by the Holy Ghost ; triumphs were not concealed. Its great transac- armed only with the power of God ; victorious tions were not “done in a corner.” It had been only because he was their captain ; and the world preached in the most splendid, powerful, and acknowledged the presence of the messengers of corrupt cities; churches were already founded the Highest, and the power of the Christian rein Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, Phi- ligion. Its success never has been, and never lippi, and at Rome. The gospel had spread in can be accounted for, by any other supposition Arabia, Asia Minor, Greece, Macedon, Italy, than that God attended it. And if the Christian and Africa. It had assailed the most mighty religion be not true, the change wrought by the existing institutions ; it had made its way over twelve apostles is the most inexplicable, mystethe most formidable barriers; it had encountered rious, and wonderful event, that has ever been the most deadly and malignant opposition ; it witnessed in this world. Their success to the had travelled to the capital, and had secured end of time will stand as an argument of the such a hold even in the imperial city, as to make truth of the scheme, that shall confound the init certain that it would finally overturn the esta fidel, and sustain the Christian with the assured blished religion, and seat itself on the ruins of belief that this is a religion which has proceeded paganism. Within thirty years it had settled the from the almighty and infinitely benevolent point that it would overturn every bloody altar; God.
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
here translated “all” occurs in the original, and CHAPTER I.
means many, a large part, the principal portion. HE former treatise a have I It has the same use in all languages. This
word often signifies, indefinitely, a large portion made, O Theophilus, of all
or number, or a great part.”— Webster. That that Jesus began both to Jesus.—The Syriac version adds, “ Jesus our do and teach,
Messiah.” This version was probably made in a Luke i. 1-4, &c. the second century. Began to do.—This is a The former treatise.—The
Hebrew form of expression, meaning the same former book. The gospel ix. 20, “ Noah began to be a husbandman,” i. e.
thing as, that Jesus did and taught. See Gen. by Luke is here evidently intended. Greek, “ the former logos," meaning gint: "Which God began to create and make ;)
was an husbandman. Gen. ii. 3, in the Septuaa discourse, or a narrative. O Theophilus.See in the Hebrew, “which God created and made.” Note, Luke i. 3. As this book was written to the same individual as the former, it was evi: and two,” i. e. sent them forth. See also Mark x.
Mark vi. 7, “ Began to send them forth by two dently written with the same design—to furnish | 32 ; xiv. 65, “ And some began to spit on him ;". an authentic and full narrative of events, concerning which there would be many imperfect
in the parallel place in Matt. xxvi. 67, “they did
To do.—This refers to his and exaggerated accounts given. Šee Luke i. spit in his face.” 1-4. As these events pertained to the descent miracles and his acts of benevolence, including of the Spirit , to the spread of the gospel,
to the all that he did for man's salvation. It probably organization of the church by inspired authority, includes, therefore, his sufferings, death, and reto the kind of preaching by which the church surrection, as a part of what he has done to save
To teach.-His doctrines. As he had was collected and organized; and as those events given an account of what the Lord Jesus did,
so were a full proof of the truth and power of the he was now about to give a narrative of what his Christian religion, and would be a model for mi apostles did in the same cause, that thus the nisters and the church in all future times, it was world might be in possession of an inspired reof great importance that a fair and full narrative cord respecting the redemption and establishof them should be preserved. Luke was the companion of Paul in bis travels, and was an eye- these events is one of the greatest blessings that
ment of the Christian church. The history of witness of no small part of the transactions re
God has conferred on mankind; and one of the corded in this book. See Acts xvi. 10, 17; xx. highest privileges which men can enjoy is, that 1–6; xxvii., xxviii. “As an eye-witness, he was
which has been conferred so abundantly on this well qualified to make a record of the leading age, in the possession and extension of the word events of the primitive church. And as he was
of God. the companion of Paul, he had every opportunity of obtaining information about the great events VER. 2. Until the day in which he was taken of the gospel of Christ. Of all.—That is, of the principal, or most important parts of the life and up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had doctrines of Christ. "It cannot mean that he re- given commandments unto the apostles whom corded all that Jesus did, as he has omitted many he had chosen : things that have been preserved by the other
b Lake xxiv. 51. Ver. 9. 1 Tim. iii. 16. Evangelists. The word "all” is frequently thus used to denote the most important or material facts. See Acts xiii. 10. 1 Tim. i. 16. James Until the day.—The fortieth day after his rei. 2. Matt. ii. 3 ; iii. 5. Acts ii. 5. Rom. xi. surrection. (Ver. 3.) See Luke xxiv. 51. In which 26. Col. i. 6. In each of these places, the word he was taken up.-In which he ascended to hea.
c Matt. xxviii. 19. Mark xvi. 15-19.
He was taken up into a cloud, and is re- gospel was to be established. Hence the sacred presented as having been borne or carried to writers so often refer to it, and establish it by so heaven. (Ver. 9.)
After that, &c. - This many arguments. As that truth lay at the foundawhole passage has been variously rendered. tion of all that Luke was about to record in his The Syriac renders it, “ After he had given history, it was of importance that he should state commandment unto the apostles whom he clearly the sum of the evidence of it in the behad chosen by the Holy Spirit.” So also the ginning of his work. After his passion.- After Ethiopic version. Others have joined the words he suffered, referring particularly to his death,
through the Holy Ghost” to the phrase as the consummation of his sufferings. The taken up,” making it mean that he was taken up word “passion,” with us, means commonly exby the Holy Ghost. But the most natural and cor- citement, or agitation of mind, as love, hope, rect translation seems to be that which is in our fear, anger, &c. In the original the word means, version. Through the Holy Ghost.– To under- to suffer. The word “passion," applied to the stand this, it is necessary to call to mind the Saviour, denotes his last sufferings. Thus, in the promise that Jesus made before his death, that Litany of the episcopal church, it is beautifully after his departure the Holy Ghost would de- said, “ by thine agony and bloody sweat; by thy scend, to be a guide to his apostles. See John cross and passion, good Lord, deliver us.” The xvi. 7-11, and the Note on that place. It was Greek word of the same derivation is rendered to be his office to carry forward the work of re- sufferings” in 1 Pet. i. 11; iv. 13. Col. i. 24. demption, in applying it to the hearts of men. By many infallible proofs.—The word rendered Whatever was done, therefore, after the atone- here “infallible proofs" does not occur elsewhere ment and resurrection of Jesus, after he had in the New Testament. In Greek authors it definished his great work, was to be regarded as notes an infallible sign or argument, by which under the peculiar influence and direction of the any thing can be certainly known.-Schleusner. Holy Ghost. Even the instructions of Jesus, his Here it means the same--evidence that he was commission to the apostles, &c., were to be re- alive which could not deceive, or in which they garded as coming within the department of the could not be mistaken. That evidence consisted sacred Spirit, within the province of his peculiar in his eating with them, conversing with them, work. The instructions were given by divine meeting them at various times and places, workauthority, by infallible guidance, and as a part of ing miracles, (John xxi. 6, 7 ;) and uniformly the work which the Holy Spirit designed. Under showing himself to be the same friend with that Spirit the apostles were to go forth ; by his whom they had been familiar for more than aid they were to convert the world, to organise three years. This evidence was infallible, (1.) the church, to establish its order and its doc- Because it was to them unexpected. They had trines. And hence the entire work was declared manifestly not believed that he would rise again. to be hy his direction. Though, in his larger (John xx. 25. Luke xxiv.) There was thereand more mighty influences, the Spirit did not fore no delusion resulting from any expectation descend until the day of Pentecost, (Luke xxiv. of seeing him, or from a design to impose on 49, comp. Acts ii.,) yet in some measure his men. (2.) It was impossible that they could influence was imparted to them before the ascen- have been deceived in relation to one with whom sion of Christ. (John xx. 22.) Had given com- they had been familiar for more than three years. mandments.- Particularly the command to preach No men could be imposed upon, and made to bethe gospel to all nations. (Matt. xxviii. 19. Mark lieve that they really saw, talked with, and ate xvi. 15—19.) It may be worthy of remark, that with, a friend whom they had known so long and the word “commandments," as a noun in the familiarly, unless it was real. (3.) There were plural number, does not occur in the original. enough of them to avoid the possibility of decepThe single word which is translated “had given tion. Though it might be pretended that one commandments," is a participle, and means simply man could be imposed on, yet it could not be “having commanded.” There is no need, there that an imposition could be practised, for forty fore, of supposing that there is reference here to days, on eleven, who were all at first increany other command than to that great and glo- dulous. (4.) He was with them sufficient time rious injunction to preach the gospel to every to give evidence. It might be pretended, if they creature. That was a command of so much im- had seen him but once, that they were deceived. portance as to be worthy of a distinct record, as But they saw him often, and for the space of constituting the sum of all that the Saviour more than a month. (5.) They saw him in taught them after his resurrection. The apostles. various places and times where there could be -The eleven that remained after the treason and no deception. If they had pretended that they death of Judas. Whom he had chosen.—Matt. x. saw him rise, or saw him at twilight in the Luke vi. 12--16.
morning when he rose, it might have been said
that they were deluded by some remarkable apVER. 3. To whom also he showed himself after pearance. Or it might have been said that, exhis passion, by many dinfallible proofs, being pecting to see him rise, their hopes and agitations
would have deceived them, and they would easily seen of them forty days, and speaking of the have fancied that they saw him. “But it is not things pertaining to the kingdom of God; pretended by the sacred writers that they saw d Luke xxiv. John xx. & xxi.
him rise. An impostor would have affirmed this,
and would not have omitted it. But the sacred He showed himself.— The resurrection of Jesus writers affirmed that they saw him after he was was the great fact on which the truth of the risen ; when they were free from agitation ;
h Matt. iii. 17.
k Isa. i. 26. Dan, vii. 27.
when they could judge coolly; in Jerusalem; in but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, their company when at worship; when journey
i not many days hence. ing to Emmaus; when in Galilee; when he went with them to mount Olivet; and when he ascend
i Chap. ii. 4; x, 45; xi. 15. ed to heaven. (6.) He appeared to them as he For John truly baptized, &c.— These are the had always done; as a friend, companion, and words of Jesus to his apostles, and he evidentiy benefactor : be ate with them, wrought a miracle has reference to what was said of John's baptism before them; was engaged in the same work as
compared with his own, in Matt. iii. 11; John he was before he suffered; renewed the same
i. 33. In those verses John is represented as promise of the Holy Spirit ; and gave them his baptizing with water, but the Messiah who was commands respecting the work which he had died to establish and promote. In all these cir- with fire. This promise respecting the Messiah
to come as baptizing with the Holy Ghost and cumstances it was impossible that they should be
was now about to be fulfilled in a remarkable deceived. Being seen of them forty days.— There
manner. See Acts ii. Not many days hence.-are no less than thirteen different appearances of This was probably spoken not long before his Jesus to his disciples recorded. For an account
ascension, and of course not many days before of them see the Note at the end of the Gospel of the day of Pentecost. Matthew. Speaking to them, &c.—He was not only seen by the but he continued the same
VER. 6. When they therefore were come totopics of discourse as before his sufferings ; thus showing that he was the same person that had
gether, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt suffered, and that his heart was still intent on j thou at this time restore k again the kingdom the same great work. Our Saviour's heart was to Israel ? filled with the same design in his life and death,
j Matt. xxiv. 3, 4. and when he rose; thus showing us, that we should aim at the same great work in all the cir- When they therefore were come together.— At cumstances of our being. Afflictions, persecu- the mount of Olives. See ver. 9, 12. Wilt thou tions, and death never turned him from this at this time, &c.— The apostles had entertained great plan; nor should they be allowed to divert the common opinions of the Jews about the temour minds from the great work of redemption. poral dominion of the Messiah. They expected The things pertaining to the kingdom of God.- that he would reign as a prince and conqueror, For an explanation of this phrase, “ the kingdom and free them from the bondage of the Romans. of God," see the Note on Matt. iii. 2. The mean- Many instances of this expectation occur in the ing is, Jesus gave them instructions about the gospels, notwithstanding all the efforts which organisation, spread, and edification of his church. the Lord Jesus made to explain to them the true
nature of his kingdom. This expectation was VER. 4. And being assembled together with checked, and almost destroyed by his death.
them, commanded them that they should not (Luke xxiv. 21.) And it is clear that his death depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the pro- and change their opinions respecting the nature
was the only means which could effectually check mise of the Father, which, saith he, ye & have of his kingdom. Even his own instructions heard of me:
would not do it; and only his being taken from
them could direct their minds effectually to the e Or, eating together.
Luke xxiv. 49. 9 John xiv., XV., & xvi.
true nature of his kingdom. Yet, though his
death checked their expectations, and appeared And being assembled together.—Margin, or, to thwart their plans, yet his return to life excited eating together.” This sense is given to this them again. They beheld him with them; they place in the Latin Vulgate, the Ethiopic, and the were assured it was the same Saviour; they saw Syriac versions. But the Greek word has not now that his enemies had no power over him ; properly this sense. It has the meaning of con- that a being who could rise from the dead could gregating, or assembling. It should have been, easily accomplish all his plans. And as they did however, translated in the active sense, “and not doubt now that he would restore the kinghaving assembled them together.” The apostles dom to Israel, they asked whether he would do were scattered after his death. But this passage it at this time? They did not ask whether he denotes that he had assembled them together by would do it at all, or whether they had correct his authority, for the purpose of giving them a views of his kingdom; but, taking that for charge respecting their conduct when he should granted, they asked him whether that was the have left them. When this occurred does not time in which he would do it. The emphasis of appear from the narrative; but it is probable the inquiry lies in the expression, " at this time,” that it was not long before his ascension : and it and hence the answer of the Saviour refers solely is clear that the place where they were assembled to the point of their inquiry, and not to the corwas Jerusalem. But wait for the promise of the rectness or incorrectness of their opinions. From Father.--For the fulfilment of the promise re- these expectations of the apostles we may learn, specting the descent of the Holy Spirit, made by(1.) That there is nothing so difficult to be rethe Father. Which ye have heard of me.- —Which moved from the mind as prejudice in favour of I have made to you. See John xiv. 16, 26 ; xv. erroneous opinions. (2.) That such prejudice 26; xvi. 7–13.
will survive the plainest proofs to the contrary.
(3.) That it will often manifest itself even after VER. 5. For John a truly baptized with water ; | all proper means have been taken to subdue it.