Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 23 July 2017; Revised 26 March 2021
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
● Targums: The Targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Acts. For a suggested timeline of Acts see the dating chart of George Edmundson. All dates given for the narrative of Acts are estimates.
In Chapter Two Luke describes the momentous miracle on Shavuot (Pentecost) when the Holy Spirit came in power and the gathered disciples were enabled to communicate in a variety of languages for the Jewish pilgrims and proselytes who had come from all over the Diaspora to Jerusalem for the festival. The chapter continues with Peter giving his first sermon declaring Yeshua to be the Messiah with glorious results in the harvest of souls for the Messianic kingdom.
The Spirit on Shavuot, 2:1-7
Miracle of Languages, 2:5-8
Diaspora Pilgrims, 2:9-13
Proclamation of Peter, 2:14-36
First Fruits of the Spirit, 2:37-41
Messianic Community Life, 2:42-47
Sunday, Sivan 7, A.D. 30
Rome: Caesar Tiberius (AD 14-37)
Prefect of Judea: Pontius Pilate (AD 26-36)
Jewish High Priest: Joseph Caiaphas (AD 18-37)
The Spirit on Shavuot, 2:1-7
1 And in the arriving of the day of Shavuot, they were all together in the same place.
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in," "within" or "among." the arriving: Grk. sumplēroō, pres. pass. inf., may mean (1) fill up completely, or (2) filling up with a temporal focus, 'take place," be in progress. The second meaning applies here in the sense of describing the passage of time that has finally been completed. of the day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The third meaning applies here. of Shavuot: Grk. Pentēkostē, (for Heb. Shavuot) fiftieth, properly the fiftieth day after Passover or Sivan 7. The Greek term for the Jewish holiday first occurs in Tobit 2:1 and 2Macc 12:32, and then in the later writings of Josephus and Philo.
Shavuot (SH-7620), "Feast of Weeks," concluded the time known as Counting the Omer (Heb. Sfirat Haomer), which began on the Sabbath following Passover (Nisan 16) and lasted seven weeks and fifty days. The festival of Shavuot was instituted by God through Moses (Ex 23:16; 34:22; Lev 23:15-22; Num 28:26; Deut 16:9-12). After occupation of the land the festival was to occur at the time of the wheat harvest and would be a time to rejoice in the fullness of God's provision. Shavuot was one of three pilgrim festivals that all Jewish males were required to attend. At the temple a joyous celebration was held. The firstfruits of the wheat harvest were presented to ADONAI and an offering made of two loaves of bread baked with leavened flour (Leviticus 23:17). This was the only time of the year when leavened bread was presented to ADONAI.
The festival of Shavuot holds a special significance to Jews because tradition says that the Ten Commandments were given to Israel on Shavuot (Shabbath 86b). Yet Israel had failed to live up to God's expectations in keeping his commandments, laws and statutes (Jdg 2:17; 2Kgs 17:13-19; Neh 1:7; 9:34; Jer 44:10). God then promised through Jeremiah,
"Here, the days are coming," says ADONAI, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them," says ADONAI. 33 "For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days," says ADONAI: "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Jer 31:31-33 CJB).
The means of fulfilling this promise would be by the Holy Spirit, as it says in Ezekiel:
"And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God." (Ezek 11:19-20 NASB)
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." (Ezek 36:27 NASB)
By God's sovereign planning Yeshua inaugurated the New Covenant with his atoning sacrifice (Luke 22:20; 1Cor 11:25) and now its provisions will be actualized by the power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the Jewish people.
they were: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). all: Grk. pas, adj., m. pl., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. The combination of "they all" alludes back to the listing of those present in the upper room in the previous chapter (1:13-15). together: Grk. homou, adv., sharing experience, 'together' in reference to simultaneous presence. The KJV and NKJV have "one accord," interpreting the adverb as meaning unanimity of mind or purpose. Virtually all other versions have "together."
at: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; and in composition may be translated 'at, by, near, on, upon, or over.' the same place: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The third meaning applies here in the sense of the same location (Thayer). Most versions translate the pronoun as "one place."
2 And suddenly from heaven came a sound just as bringing of a strong wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
In verses 2-4 three signs of the Spirit's coming (audible, visual and vocal) are reported to have appeared, each of them being considered in Jewish tradition as a sign of God's presence (Longenecker). And: Grk. kai, conj. suddenly: Grk. aphnō, adv., suddenly, unexpectedly. The word occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in Acts (also 16:26; 28:6). The adverb does occur in the LXX (Josh 10:9; Prov 1:27; Eccl 9:12; Jer 4:20; 18:22; 51:8) and Josephus (Life 1:18) (BAG). from: Grk. ek, prep. may be used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; from, out of, out from among. Ek has a two-layered meaning, "out from" and "to," which makes it out-come oriented, i.e., out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object (HELPS).
heaven: Grk. ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God (Ps 148:1-4). In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”) (DNTT 2:191). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2). In Scripture ouranos is always "up" as a direction from the surface of the earth. The term as used here is likely meant of heaven's decree, rather than a physical wind blowing in from the outside.
came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here. a sound: Grk. ēchos, a sound that spreads out and makes an impact; sound, noise. Clarke suggested the sound was thunder. just as: Grk. hōsper, adv. of manner relating events and conditions, even as, just as. HELPS adds "indeed just as," "just exactly like."
bringing: Grk. pherō, pres. mid. part., properly means to bear, carry (bring) along, especially temporarily or to a definite or prescribed conclusion (HELPS). Most versions translate the verb as "rushing," but if Luke had meant "rushing" surely he would have chosen a verb closer to that meaning. Danker defines the verb in this context as movement through guidance, a strong wind put into motion. of a strong: Grk. biaios, adj., exerting force; forcible, strong, violent. Bible versions are mainly divided between "mighty" and "violent," but some have "strong" (ERV, GNB, MSG, NCV, NEB, NIRV).
wind: Grk. pnoē, movement of air, varying in rapidity, here of wind. The noun also occurs several times in the LXX and used of the breath of man (Gen 2:7), of the breath of the Spirit (2Sam 22:16) and of atmospheric wind (Job 37:10). The first sign of the Spirit's presence was wind. Longenecker notes that Ezekiel had prophesied of the wind as the breath of God blowing over the dry bones in the valley of his vision and filling them with new life (Ezek 37:9-14), and it was this wind of God's Spirit that Judaism looked forward to as ushering in the final Messianic Age. and it filled: Grk. plēroō, aor., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The first meaning has application here.
the entire: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. house: Grk. oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home and by extension the household of that dwelling. The term implies a fixed residence. In the LXX oikos translates Heb. bayit (SH-1004), house as a dwelling habitation, household, descendants. The house could have been the house of the upper room where the disciples had been meeting (1:13). where: Grk. hou, adv. used to introduce information about a location. they were: Grk. eimi, impf. See the previous verse.
sitting: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. The typical Israelite house was simply furnished with chairs, stools, a table for eating, a storage chest and mats on a bed frame (NIBD 495; cf. 2Kgs 4:10). The divan or raised seat was located around the borders of the main room. They were used for seats during the daytime, and beds were put on them at night (Job 7:13; Ps 6:6). The mention of posture is a significant detail, though ignored by commentators. Standing is the normal position for prayer so they were not having a prayer meeting. Sitting probably reflected obedience to the command to wait for God to move (Acts 1:4). Into this time of waiting came a loud sound inside the house and it brought the sense of air moving with it. For those inside the house it must have been a surreal experience.
3 And there appeared tongues as of fire distributing to them and sat upon each one of them.
And: Grk. kai, conj. there appeared: Grk. horaō, aor. pass., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. flames: pl. of Grk. glōssa normally refers either to the anatomical organ of the tongue or a distinctive language system, but is used here fig. of forked flames resembling "tongues." Many versions translate the plural noun here as "tongues" but others have "flames" (CSB, CEB, ERV, EXB, HCSB, ICB, ISV, NCV, NIRV, NLT, PNT, TLB). as: Grk. hōsei, adv. has two applications: (1) to denote a comparison; as, as if, like; or (2) when used with numbers and measures to mean, about or approximately. The first meaning applies here. of fire: Grk. pur, fire, as a physical state of burning, but there are also fig. uses.
The Greek phrase glōssai hōsei puros in this verse is equivalent to the Heb. lashôn êsh, "tongue as of fire" in a description of fire consuming chaff (Isa 5:24). Yochanan the Immerser explicitly linked the coming of the Spirit with fire (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16). Thus, the second sign of the Spirit's presence was fire. Longenecker notes that fire as a symbol of the divine presence was well known among first-century Jews: cf. the burning bush (Ex 3:2-5), the pillar of fire that guided Israel by night through the wilderness (Ex 13:21), the consuming fire on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:17), and the fire that hovered over the wilderness tabernacle (Ex 40:38). The expression also occurs in the book of Enoch (14:9-10) in which Enoch describes a vision of being taken to heaven and once there being surrounded by tongues of fire.
Not considered by any commentator is that in the Qumran community "tongues of fire" was a euphemism for the Urim and Thummim, which the high priest relied on to discover God's will (Ex 38:30; Num 27:21; 1Sam 28:6). Modern scholars understand this special means of communication with God as responding only to "yes" and "no" questions, and according to how the question was phrased, the priest's blind selection of one stone or the other from their pouch would reveal the answer. However, the Qumran document "Tongues of Fire" (1Q29; 4Q376; 4Q408) and the traditions of Josephus (Ant. III, 8:9) share a much more miraculous expectation. They agree in indicating the God would make the answer known by causing the appropriate stone to shine forth with a brilliant light.
The author of Tongues of Fire expected that the Urim and Thummim would be called upon for especially momentous decisions. The remaining fragments of the work describe their use to decide whether a prophet was true or false (TDSS 144). Considering the Qumran use of the expression, Luke's description of "tongues fire" may be peculiarly relevant to the desire expressed by Moses that all of God's people might be empowered by the Spirit to prophesy (Num 11:29). In the Torah the "tongues of fire" were the exclusive property of the high priest. Now the divine provision for communication is "downloaded" to all the disciples. The miraculous provision of the tongues of fire would be evidence of God's anointing to speak prophetic truth.
distributing: Grk. diamerizō, pres. part., cause to be in parts; divide, distribute, apportion. to them: Grk. autos, pers. pron., 3p-pl. and sat: Grk. kathizō, aor., to sit, to take one's seat. upon: Grk. epi, prep. each: Grk. hekastos, adj. used in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one. of them: Grk. autos, 3p-pl. The roar and fire in Jerusalem recalled the fire, smoke and sounds at Sinai (Ex 19:18–23, Deut 5:19–24). Stern notes that instead of God's people being kept away, God's glory, represented by the tongues of fire, came to each individual. The "flame of fire" visibly resting on each person announced God's intention to cleanse each heart (cf. John 17:17 Acts 15:8-9; Heb 9:14). The promise of the New Covenant is that God's people would be given new hearts (Ezek 11:19; 36:26). The flames of fire are not mentioned again because they were internalized into a holy passion.
4 And all were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak other languages as the Spirit was declaring to them.
And: Grk. kai, conj. all: Grk. pas, adj., m. pl. See verse 1 above. In the Tanakh the anointing of the Spirit only occurred with select individuals for a particular purpose. The scope of the Spirit's anointing and indwelling has now changed. "All" does not leave any out and refers to the complete group of 120 men plus women. were filled with: Grk. pimplēmi, aor. pass., to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition, to be filled. the Holy: Grk. Hagios has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44.
Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit, a name or face of God. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (pneuma ho theos, John 4:24), just as God is the Word (John 1:1). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh.
The Holy Spirit is identified by three other forms in the Tanakh (Ruach Elohim, Gen 1:2; Ruach YHVH, Jdg 3:10; and Ruach Adonai YHVH, Isa 61:1). The Greek text of this verse does not have the definite article for either "Holy" or "Spirit," corresponding to the lack of the definite article in the three passages of Ruach Qodesh. The disciples thus fulfilled the command of Yeshua in his post-resurrection appearance when he commanded them, "Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22). The description of "all were filled" stands in contrast to the record of the Tanakh in which only select individuals experienced the Holy Spirit, and as Stern notes, bringing to pass what Moses had desired, that ADONAI would put his Spirit on all His people (Num 11:29).
and they began: Grk. archō, aor. mid., can mean either to rule or to begin something. The second usage applies here, but there is a nuance of the first meaning in that the Holy Spirit was controlling actions. to speak: Grk. laleō, pres. inf., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. other: Grk. heteros, adj., a distributive pronoun, used here to distinguish what was spoken. The adjective refers to something different than what was normal for each person. Many versions insert the preposition "with" before "other," but it is not in the Greek text and it is unnecessary for understanding Luke's description.
languages: pl. of Grk. glōssa. See the previous verse. The term is used here of a distinctive language system of a people group (cf. Isa 45:23; 66:18; Dan 3:4; Jdth 3:8; Acts 2:4, 11; 10:46; 19:6; Php 2:11; Rev 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15). In the LXX glōssa primarily translates Heb. lashōn (SH-3956), the organ of the tongue and human language, first occurring in Genesis 10:5 for the languages of different nations (DNTT 3:1078f). Glōssa also translates Heb. saphah (SH-8193), lip, speech or language, first occurring in Genesis 11:7 of the one language of the earth. Some versions have the misleading translation of "tongues" (ESV, KJV, NASB, NEB, NIV, NKJV, RSV, TLV), but more versions have "languages" (CEB, CJB, CEV, ERV, GNB, GW, HCSB, HNV, ICB, ISV, MSG, MW, NCV, NET, NIRV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, and NTE).
The translation of "to speak with other tongues" would be nonsensical since a person can only speak with his own tongue. J The phrase "other languages" means other languages or dialects than Hebrew, the native language of the disciples. The diversity of languages spoken is alluded to in verses 9-11. We should note that Luke is NOT describing glossolalia, which is practiced in some modern congregations. Glossolalia is broken speech experienced in religious ecstasy, consisting of continuous repetition of "words" with no discernible structure or grammar and not intelligible to bystanders. Glossolalia is generally practiced in a manner that disobeys the commands of Yeshua (Matt 6:7) and the apostle Paul (1Cor 14:27-28). On Pentecost several human languages were employed to proclaim the good news of God's Messiah.
as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. The adverb stresses speaking as a compliant activity. the Spirit: Grk. Pneuma. was declaring: Grk. apophtheggomai, pres. mid. inf., speak out in an attention-getting manner; speak out, declare, utter forth. The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in Acts (also 2:14; 26:25). to them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. The narrative says that the words spoken by the disciples was not invented by them, but personally directed by the voice of the Spirit. Thus, the third sign of the Spirit's presence was anointed speech.
Shavuot, identified as Pentecost on the Christian calendar, gained a new importance among Jewish disciples of remembering the pouring out the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Spirit would write the Torah on the hearts of God's people (Jer 31:33; cf. Ezek 11:19-20; 36:26-27). Stern notes that the miraculous event accomplished through the Holy Spirit amounts to a reversal of Babel (Gen 11:1–9). Then God confounded the speech of people misusing their unity for sinful purposes (the English word "babble" comes directly from the Hebrew). Here God enabled people whose different languages separated them to understand each other praising God, which is the proper use of unity.
Miracle of Languages, 2:5-8
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. there were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. staying: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part., to make a specific locale or area of residence, thus to dwell, reside or live in. in: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the verb to indicate completion of movement.
Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm, which transliterates Heb. Yerushalaim (SH-3389), 660 times in the LXX, first in Joshua 10:1 (DNTT 2:324). See the note on "Jerusalem" in 1:4. What a precious name is Jerusalem! Jerusalem is the city God favors above all other cities of the earth and the focus of His covenantal faithfulness (Ps 135:21; 147:2; Ezek 5:5; Zech 2:8). Jerusalem is the "city of the great king" (Matt 5:35; cf. Isa 59:20; 62:11; Zech 9:9) and the city in which the Messiah was killed and raised to life. It was also the city from which the message of God's salvation would go forth (Isa 2:3; 40:9; 41:27; Mic 4:2; Acts 1:8). It's no wonder that this is the place God chose to empower the disciples with the Holy Spirit.
The crowd was not in this place at that time by accident. Jerusalem was the center of Jewish worship (cf. John 4:20; Acts 8:27; 24:11). In the Torah God commanded Israel to observe specific holy days and festivals. These "appointed times," summarized in Leviticus 23, were designed to celebrate God's grace in the past and the present. Before entering the Land God said that religious observance was to be centralized in the place He would choose (Deut 12:5, 11, 14, 18, 21, 26). God required that all adult males attend three major festivals at the chosen place (Deut 16:16): The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah), the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) and the Feast of Booths (Sukkot). Jerusalem was the place God chose to establish His Name (1Kgs 11:6; 14:21; 2Kgs 21:4, 7; 23:27; 2Chr 6:6).
The verbal phrase "staying in Jerusalem" does not mean born and raised in Jerusalem or residing permanently in the city, since there would be no point in saying that the crowd consisted of Jews. These people were visitors from the Diaspora (verses 9-11 below). Some of them may have fled persecution in their home of origin and had emigrated. Some may have been business owners who carried on commerce between their home of origin and Judaea. Some may have come for a festival season and simply stayed. The translation of "staying" (CSB, CJB, MSG, MW, NCV, NIRV, NIV, TLV) emphasizes this non-permanent nature of their residence. If Luke had meant permanent residents of Jerusalem he could have used the term Hierosolumitēs, residents of Jerusalem (Mark 1:5; John 7:25).
Jewish hospitality in Jerusalem during the time of the major festivals required that if a person had a room available he would give it to any pilgrim who asked to use it without charge, in order that he might have a place to celebrate the feast. The practice was based on the principle that the residents did not really own the city, but it belonged to all the tribes (Yom. 12a; Meg. 26a). The Mishnah declared, "Ten wonders were wrought for our fathers in the sanctuary ... no man said to his fellow: the place is too strait for me to lodge overnight in Jerusalem" (Avot 5:5). Those "staying in Jerusalem" may also be intended to contrast with pilgrims camped outside the city in tents or staying in nearby villages, such as Bethphage and Bethany (Jeremias 61). In addition, the pilgrims residing in the city were distributed into different sections by national origin (Jeremias 62).
traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios (derived from Ioudas, "Judah"), originally meant one sprung from the tribe of Judah, or a subject of the kingdom of Judah, but used more generally in the Besekh of a descendant of Jacob (Mounce). Danker notes that the term may be used as an adjective (Judean/Jewish) or a noun (Judean). In the LXX Ioudaios first occurs in the plural to translate Heb. Yehudim (pl. of Heb. Yehudi, SH-3064), citizens of the Kingdom of Judah (2Kgs 16:6; 25:25; Jer 34:9). The southern kingdom also included the tribes of Benjamin and Simeon (Josh 19:1; 1Kgs 12:21; 2Chr 15:9), so Mordecai of the tribe of Benjamin is identified as an Ioudaios (Esth 2:5; 6:10).
Among Gentiles the ethnic term did not distinguish between members of the twelve tribes of Israel or sects of Judaism. All of the people exiled from the land of Israel were called "Jews" (Esth 8:9, 11, 17; Ezra 4:12, 23; 5:1, 5; 6:7, 14; Dan 3:8, 12). After the exile Jewish literature continued this inclusive meaning of Ioudaioi to designate the covenant people as distinct from Gentiles (1Macc 2:23; 14:33; Letter of Aristeas 1:1 +34t; Josephus, Apion 1:1 +42t), often as the object of persecution and warfare (Philo, Flaccus IV.21 +26t; Josephus, Ant. X, 11:1; Wars VI, 1:2-8).
In the Besekh Ioudaios occurs 195 times and has various particular uses. (For a complete listing see my article The Apostolic Community.) The plural form Ioudaioi occurs 68 times in Acts. Luke uses the term with three different meanings: 30 times in a neutral sense, often in the context of those hearing the apostolic message; 35 times of local Jewish leaders who reacted negatively to the apostolic message and ministry, often taking aggressive action against the messenger and only 3 times of Jews who reacted positively to the apostolic message. Most important, Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9). In the first century the term had a particular sectarian meaning to distinguish "devout" (=Torah-observant) Jews from non-observant Jews as in this verse.
Simply stated the Ioudaioi were traditional Jews. I use "traditional," because the tenets and practices of their Judaism were governed by the Great Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, whose traditions they followed (Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). Traditional Jews spoke Hebrew as their primary language (cf. Acts 6:1; 21:40; 22:2) and conducted synagogue services in Hebrew. Traditional Jews revered Moses (John 9:28-29; Acts 6:11) and recognized the authority of the written Torah (John 7:23; Acts 21:20). Indeed the noun Ioudaismos, "Judaism," first appears in the Maccabean writings for a way of life devoted to observance of Torah laws (2Macc 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4Macc 4:26) and then used by Saul to describe his religion before his life-changing encounter with Yeshua (Gal 1:13-14) (DNTT 2:310). Those committed to Judaism were ready to die rather than transgress the commandments given to Moses for Israel (4Macc 9:1).
Being Torah-observant they faithfully observed the Sabbath (John 5:10; 19:31, 42), kept God's prescribed festivals in Jerusalem (John 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 7:2; 11:55), followed strict rules of cleanliness (Mark 7:3; Luke 2:22; John 2:6; 3:25; 19:40), circumcised their children (Luke 1:59; 2:21; John 7:22-23; Acts 21:21; Rom 2:28; 3:1), separated themselves from non-observant Jews and Gentiles (John 4:9; Acts 10:28; Gal 2:12-14), and especially regarded the Temple in Jerusalem as the only place to worship the God of Israel with sacrifices (John 2:20; 4:20; 18:20). The same devotion could not be said of other Israelite descendants who were scattered throughout the world. The Essenes consistently avoided the term Ioudaios as a self-designation and it is not to be found in the Greek portions of the Qumran scrolls (Miller). Thus, in the Besekh the term Ioudaioi is never used to identify Hellenistic Jews, Hellenized Jews, Samaritan Jews or Qumran Jews.
devout: Grk. eulabēs, adj., reverent or devout. The term describes the outward response someone gives to what they feel is truly worthy of respect (HELPS). The term demonstrates that the Ioudaioi were traditional Jews. men: pl. of Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr renders several Heb. words: (1) ish, man; (2) enosh, men, people; (3) ba'al, lord, husband, head of a household; (4) gibbor, hero, warrior; (5) zaqen, elder; (6) nasi, prince; and (7) adon, lord (DNTT 2:562). The reference to "devout men" describes the Ioudaioi who came to Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot in accordance with the Torah requirement. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, here denoting place of origin; from.
every: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. nation: Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group. In the LXX ethnos generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "nation, people" (DNTT 2:790). The term ethnos is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1). In the Besekh ethnos in the singular may refer generally to any people distinguished by language and culture (Matt 24:7; Acts 10:35; Rev 5:9), including Israel (Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5).
of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. under: Grk. hupo, prep. used to indicate a position that is relatively lower; below, under. heaven: Grk. ouranos. See verse 2 above. The phrase "under heaven" is an idiomatic expression that extends the physical location of earth in relation to the heavens into the figurative realm of being subject to the authority of the throne of God (cf. Gen 6:17; Ex 17:14; Acts 4:12; Col 1:23). The reference to "every nation under heaven" should not be taken literalistically. "Every nation" would be those nations with a Jewish population. Thus, the Ioudaioi were were found throughout the world.
6 Now this sound having happened the multitude came together, and they were amazed, because each one was hearing them speaking in his own language.
Now: Grk. de, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. sound: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language (1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). The word often is used in the Besekh of articulated sound from a human mouth. In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (sound, voice, BDB 876), the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113). The "sound" was the noise of rushing wind in verse 2 above. The sound served as an effective device to bring people who needed the message of the good news to those who had the message.
having happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 2 above. the multitude: Grk. plēthos, relatively large number of any kind; multitude, great number. came together: Grk. sunerchomai, aor., may mean (1) to come together as a collection of persons; (2) come together in a close personal relationship; or (3) come or go together with someone. The first meaning applies here. The crowd of festival pilgrims must have been in the vicinity of the temple, likely in the outer court and the great noise drew them toward the nearby house where the 120+ disciples were gathered. Upon arrival the disciples came pouring out of the house and began speaking to people in the multitude as inspired by the Holy Spirit. A significant part of the miracle is that the Spirit brought together individuals from foreign lands to meet with individual disciples empowered to speak their language.
and: Grk. kai, conj. they were amazed: Grk. sugcheō, aor. pass. (from sun, "with," and cheō, "to pour"), thus "to pour out together" (HELPS). Danker explains that the focus is on circumstances so unusual as to affect one's ability to process them mentally or emotionally. Thus, BAG defines the verb in the active voice as meaning "to confuse or confound," or in the passive voice as here "be amazed, surprised or excited." Mounce concurs with "amazed" as the meaning here. The verb depicts two contrasting reactions occurring simultaneously. The Amplified Version brings these two meanings together in its translation of "astonished and bewildered." The people in the crowd were astonished at what they experienced and were simply unable to form a logical explanation of what they witnessed.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here. each: Grk. hekastos, adj. See verse 3 above. one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one; i.e. each person in the large crowd. was hearing: Grk. akouō, impf., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The second meaning dominates here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173).
them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The plural pronoun implies the entire group of 120 men. speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. in his own: Grk. idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. language: Grk. dialektos, a pattern of verbal articulation or coherent language peculiar to any people; dialect, language. The term anticipates the mention of the various lands in verses 9-11 below of the lands from where the pilgrims had come. Four languages dominated in Israel: Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic. However, each people group within those lands had their own distinctive language. It is striking that the hearers do not comment on the content of the message proclaimed by the disciples, only that they heard in the language spoken in their place of origin.
7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Behold, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
And: Grk. de, conj. they were amazed: Grk. existēmi, impf., expresses the idea of causing or undergoing a psychological change outside normal expectation. In this context the verb means to make a profound impression on by astonishing, to be amazed. and: Grk. kai, conj. astonished: Grk. thaumazō, impf., be extraordinarily impressed; to wonder, be amazed, astonished, impressed, surprised. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, enjoin, order, say, speak, tell, told, refer to, talk about. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation.
Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection (derived from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek verb, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). The interjection is equivalent to "look at them!" are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pron. See the previous verse. who: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used as a demonstrative pron. are speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part. See verse 4 above.
Galileans: pl. of Grk. Galilaios, inhabitant of the Galil or Galilee; Galilean. "Galilean" refers to persons of Jewish descent living in Galilee. In the time of Yeshua Galilee (from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region") was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah and encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. In the time of Yeshua Galilee was a Roman province bounded by the Province of Syria on the west and north, the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee on the east and the Province of Judaea on the south. In this time, Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea. However, to Jews in the first century the Galil included territory on the east side of the Jordan and around the lake.
Yeshua himself is called a Galilean (Matt 26:69; Luke 23:6-7). Also, Peter is identified as a Galilean (Mark 14:70). Apparently Judas was the only one of the original apostles who originated from Judea (Luke 22:3; John 13:2) and the rest of the Eleven all came from Galilee. The 72 disciples Yeshua sent out (Luke 10:1), of whom Luke was a member, likely came from Galilee, since Yeshua was in Galilee at the time. Luke offers no explanation of how the pilgrims came to the conclusion that the Spirit-anointed messengers were Galileans, but there is no evidence that the term was limited to just the apostles.
Longenecker says that Galileans had difficulty pronouncing gutturals and had the habit of swallowing syllables when speaking; so they were looked down upon by the people of Jerusalem as being provincial (cf. Mark 14:70). Gilbert notes that rabbinic commentary sometimes treated Galileans as ignorant (TB Eruvin 2:4, 53a-b; TJ Shabbath 15d) (201). The rabbinic sentiment was expressed toward Yeshua and the apostles in that Galileans did not have the education deemed necessary for someone to speak for God (cf. John 7:15, 49; Acts 4:13). Therefore, since the disciples who were speaking were Galileans, it bewildered those who heard because the disciples could not by themselves have learned so many different languages.
8 and how? We each are hearing our own dialect in which we were born!
and: Grk. kai, conj. how: Grk. pōs, adv. introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way? The question means "How is this possible?" We: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pers. pron. each: Grk. hekastos, adj. See verse 3 above. are hearing: Grk. akouō, pres. See verse 6 above. our: Grk. hēmeis. own: Grk. idios, adj. See verse 6 above. dialect: Grk. dialektos. See verse 6 above. in: Grk. en, prep. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that.
we were born: Grk. gennaō, aor. pass., to father, beget or procreate. In the LXX gennaō is used chiefly for Heb. yalad (SH-3205), to bear, bring forth, to beget, to father (first use in Gen 4:18), which can refer to either the male or female role in conception and birth (DNTT 1:176). The passive voice of the verb is probably intended to convey the female role in giving birth. The description indicates that the language was learned in the home from the earliest age, rather than being learned as an adult.
Stern comments that the fact of everyone supernaturally hearing in his own "language" and "dialect" corresponds closely to a Talmudic concept of how God dealt with the nations (222).
"Rabbi Yochanan said, 'What is meant by the verse, "ADONAI gives a word; those spreading [it] are a great army" (Psalm 68:12)? It means that every single word going forth from the Almighty was split into seventy languages. The school of Rabbi Ishmael taught that the verse, "[Is not my word … ] like a hammer that breaks a rock into pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29), means that just as a hammer is divided into many sparks [when it hits a rock or piece of metal], so every single word that went out from the Holy One, blessed be he, split into seventy languages.'" (Shabbat 88b)
Diaspora Pilgrims, 2:9-13
Those in the crowd identify 15 locations (verses 9-11) in the Jewish Diaspora from which they had come. Almost all the locations are Roman provinces. Two cities are mentioned. See the map that depicts these locations. The list of nations given is roughly from east to west.
9 "Parthians and Medes and Elamites and the ones inhabiting of Mesopotamia, Judaea and also Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
The exclamation of wonder that began in verse 7 continues. Parthians: Grk. Parthoi, residents of Parthia, i.e., Jews that were born in Parthia, and had dwelt there, and who spoke the language of that country (Gill). The place name occurs only here in the Besekh. Originally a tribal people they migrated from Central Asia into what is now Iran, eventually becoming a great empire, which succeeded the Persians. Parthia covered a vast area east of the Euphrates. The Babylonians settled some citizens of Judah in Parthia after their deportation in 587 B.C. (2Chr 36:20). The Parthians adopted Greek culture following their fall to Alexander the Great. About 250 B.C. they revolted against the Seleucid rule and reached a height of power under King Mithradates (ruled 171-138 B.C.). In 53 B.C. the Romans invaded but were defeated on several occasions. In the first century Parthia had the most feared cavalry in the world.
That there were Jews in Parthia is clear from Josephus (Wars, Preface, 2), who speaks of them together with the Jews of other nations. The Jews who settled in Parthia continued to practice the Israelite faith, apparently without harassment from the Parthian rulers (NIBD 802). The ruling family of the Parthian client state Adiabene was favorably disposed towards Judaism and entered into close relations with Jerusalem. In the first half of the first century King Monobazus had a palace in Jerusalem (Wars V, 6:1), as had his mother Queen Helena (Wars VI, 6:3). The Mishnah says that Queen Helena came to Jerusalem after fulfilling her seven-year Nazirite vow (Nazir 3:6). Other members of the ruling family also had residences in Jerusalem and they attended the Passover festival (Wars II, 19:2; VI, 6:4). Later that century their princes fought on the side of the Jews against the Romans (AD 66 and 70) (Jeremias 68).
and: Grk. kai, conj. Medes: Grk. Mēdos, an inhabitant of Media, the region east of Assyria and south and southwest of the Caspian Sea in the Zagros Mountains. The place name occurs only here in the Besekh. The traditional capital of the region was Ecbatana. Media is first mentioned in Scripture as the destination to which Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, deported the Israelites from Samaria around 721 B.C. (2Kgs 17:6; 18:11). Medes are mentioned in Ezra in connection with Darius' search for the roll containing the decree of Cyrus that allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem (Ezra 6:2). Laws of the Medes are mentioned in Esther 1:19 and Daniel 6:8, 15.
After the decline of the Assyrian Empire the Medes became a power of their own and controlled lands east and north of the Tigris River. Eventually they were conquered by the Persians, but the Medes retained a place of honor and an alliance with Persia. Biblical references often combine the "Medes and the Persians" (Esth 1:3, 14, 18, 19; 10:2; Dan 5:28; 6:8, 12, 15; 8:20). The prophet Daniel prophesied that King Belshazzar's Babylonian kingdom would fall to the Medes and Persons (Dan 5:28). There is a reference in the Talmud to Jewish literature in the Median language (Shabbat 115a).
and: Grk. kai. Elamites: pl. of Grk. Elamitēs, an inhabitant of the province of Elam, a region east of Babylon stretching southward to the Persian Gulf. The place name occurs only here in the Besekh. Elam is mentioned 27 times in Scripture, first as the son of Shem (Gen 10:22). In the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), Elam is a region near Babylon. The land of Elam is mentioned as one of the lands into which Jews were exiled (Isa 11:11). The capital of the Persian Empire was Susa (Heb. Shushan) in Elam and this was where Daniel resided and worked in the latter part of his career (Dan 8:2; Josephus, Ant., X, 11:7). There is a reference in the Talmud to Jewish literature in the Elamite language (Shabbat 115a).
and: Grk. kai. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. inhabiting: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part. See verse 5 above. Mesopotamia: Grk. Mesopotamia (from mesos, between, midst, and potamos, river) the land between the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. The place name occurs twice in the Besekh (also Acts 7:2). The term does not denote political boundaries, but simply a geographical region. Gill says that Mesopotamia is the same with what is called in the Hebrew text of the Tanakh as Aram Naharaim (Gen 24:10). Because of the abundant agriculture that benefited from two rivers the region was also known as the Fertile Crescent. There was a strong Jewish community in Mesopotamia from the time of the deportation by Assyria (722 BC) and Babylonia (597 and 587 BC), as chronicled in the Tanakh.
In the first century BC and AD there were priests of Babylonian descent who served in the Temple. The noted scribe Hillel was called "the Babylonian" and was said to travel from Babylonia to Jerusalem on foot (Jeremias 67). Travel between Jerusalem and the land of the two rivers was vigorous in the first century. For example, pilgrims from Mesopotamia met in their thousands in the communities of Nearda and Nisibis near the Tigris River, bringing with them the Temple dues from the Mesopotamian community of Jews and traveled together to Jerusalem (Ant. XVIII, 9:1). On their journey they were protected in the region of Batanea by the Babylonian Jew Zamaris who settled there (Ant. XVII, 2:2). On the other hand, gifts of first-fruits and first-born animals from Babylon were not accepted because of ceremonial purity (Hallah 4:11).
Judaea: Grk. Ioudaia, transliterates the Latin provincial name of Iudaea and corresponds to the Heb. name Y'hudah, which means "praised" or "object of praise" (Gen 29:35; BDB 397). The territorial name of Ioudaia had two uses: (1) the historic territory of Judea that lay between Samaria on the north and Idumea on the south (Matt 2:1; 3:5; 4:25; 24:16; Mark 3:7; 13:14; Luke 2:4; John 4:3, 47, 54; Acts 1:8; 8:1; 9:31). Judea was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and the east by the Jordan River. (See the map.) (2) the Roman province of Judaea, which comprised Samaria, Judea and Idumea and extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel with its capital at Caesarea (Luke 1:5; 23:5; Acts 10:37; 11:1, 29). Most versions have "Judea," but I think Luke intended the Roman province.
The Province of Judaea was divided into five conclaves, or administrative districts: (1) Jerusalem, (2) Gadara, (3) Amathus, (4) Jericho, and (5) Sepphoris. The Roman province was governed at this time by Pontius Pilate. Longenecker supposes the Greek term refers to the geographical region of Judea and comments that the appearance of "Judea" in the listing is strange because it involves the curious anomaly of inhabitants of Judea being amazed to hear the apostles speak in their own language. Many suggestions have been offered to resolve to this supposed problem. However, the simple answer is that "inhabiting Judaea" does not necessarily mean "born and raised in Judea." Recognizing the place name as the Roman province removes the supposed problem.
and: Grk. kai. also: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, both. Cappadocia: Grk. Kappadokia, a Roman province in Asia Minor, bounded on the north by Pontus, on the east by Armenia Minor, on the south by Cilicia and Commagene, on the west by Lycaonia and Galatia. The Jewish Encyclopedia article on Cappadocia points out that according to Josephus (Ant. I, 6:1) the Cappadocians were formerly called "Mosocheni," the Biblical tribe Meshech, mentioned together with Tubal (Isa 66:19; Ezek 27:13). The LXX and the Targums identify the Biblical Caphtor with Cappadocia (Deut 2:23).
Josephus is the first to give genuine historical data; he often mentions Cappadocia, since the royal house of Herod was related to that of Cappadocia by the marriage of Herod's son Alexander (subsequently executed) to Glaphyra, daughter of King Archelaus of Cappadocia (Ant. XVI, 1:2). Glaphyra later greatly shocked the Jews by marrying her brother-in-law, Archelaus (ibid. XVII, 13:4). Through these connections with Cappadocia, and perhaps even before that time, Jews came to that country. Jews of Cappadocia also went to the festivals at Jerusalem (Ant. XVI, 6:7).
Pontus: Grk. Pontos, a province just south of the Black Sea in Asia Minor. The terrain varies from fertile plains along the shore to rugged mountains farther inland. The Greeks colonized the plains shortly after 700 B.C., but the mountains remained free of their influence. Mithradates founded the kingdom of Pontus in about 302 B.C. and it remained in his dynasty until 63 B.C. when Rome took over. Aquila, a fellow-worker of Paul, was a native of Pontus (Acts 18:2).
and: Grk. kai. Asia: Grk. Asia refers to the Roman province bordered on the west by the Aegean Sea and on the east by the province of Galatia. The important province included the well-known cities of Colossae, Ephesus, Hierapolis, Laodicea, Miletus, Pergamum, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, Thyatira and Troas. All of these cities had Jewish populations. These cities would later be visited by Paul on his journeys to proclaim the good news of the Messiah. Peter addressed his first letter to Messianic disciples in Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia (1Pet 1:1).
10 "both Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya toward Cyrene, and those visiting from Rome,
The exclamation of wonder that began in verse 7 continues. both: Grk. te, conj. See the previous verse. Phrygia: Grk. Phrugia, an ethnic district in Asia Minor, the north-western part of which was in the Roman province of Asia and the south-eastern part in the Roman province of Galatia. Phrygia is mentioned three times in Acts (also 16:6; 18:23). Those of its cities mentioned in the Besekh are Colossae (Col 1:2), Hierapolis (Col 4:13), and Laodicea (Col 2:1; 4:13, 15-16; Rev 1:11; 3:14). Antiochus the Great transferred 2,000 Jewish families from Mesopotamia and Babylonia to Phrygia and Lydia (Josephus, Ant. XII, 3:4). They settled principally in Laodicea and Apamea.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Pamphylia: Grk. Pamphulia, a Roman province, bordered on the west by Asia, on the north by Galatia, on the east by Cilicia and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea. Its city of note is Perga (Acts 13:13-14; 14:25). Pamphylia is mentioned as one of a number of recipients of a letter from the Roman consul Lucius concerning treatment of Jews, who advised that they "should not seek their harm or make war against them and their cities and their country, or make alliance with those who war against them" (1Macc. 15:23 RSV).
Egypt: Grk. Aiguptos, a land in northeastern Africa, home to one of the earliest civilizations, and an important cultural and political influence on ancient Israel. In contrast to the modern nation, ancient Egypt was confined to the Nile River valley, a long, narrow ribbon of fertile land (the "black land") surrounded by uninhabitable desert (the "red land"). Egypt proper, from the first cataract of the Nile to the Mediterranean, is some 750 miles long. The Hebrew name in the Tanakh is Mitzrayim (Mizraim in Christian Bibles). The English word Egypt is essentially derived from the Greek word via Middle French "Egypte" and Latin "Aegyptus." Alexandria was home to a large Jewish population and Philo Judaeus (c. 25 BC─AD 50), the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher, taught there with considerable influence.
and: Grk. kai. the parts: pl. of Grk. meros, a piece or segment of a whole, used here in a geographical sense. of Libya: Grk. Libuē, a region in north Africa west of the Nile. The people who inhabited the territory in biblical days are referred to variously as Chub (Ezek 30:5), Put (1Chr 1:8; Nah 3:9), Phut (Gen 10:6; Ezek 27:10), and Libyans (Ezek 30:5; 38:5). The Phoenicians were the first to establish trading posts in Libya. By the 5th century BC, the greatest of the Phoenician colonies was Carthage. In the following centuries the region came under foreign domination, first the Greeks, then the Persians, then the Greeks again and finally the Romans. In 74 BC Rome joined the region to Crete to form a province.
toward: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the noun following being in the accusative case and the preposition denoting direction, the resultant meaning is 'toward' (Thayer). Cyrene: Grk. Kurēnē, a large and important city in Cyrenaica, the district of Upper Libya on the north coast of Africa about 11 Roman miles from the sea, west of Egypt. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In 630 BC, the ancient Greeks colonized Eastern Libya and founded the city of Cyrene. Cyrene was one of the five large cities that gave to this region the name of "Pentapolis" (cf. Josephus, Wars, VII, 11:1). Many Jews resided in the region. Ptolemy I Lagus had sent settlers to Cyrene and other cities of Libya, and invested them with the rights of citizens (Josephus, Against Apion, II, 4).
According to Strabo, the Greek geographer (cited by Josephus, Ant. XIV, 7:2), the inhabitants of Cyrene in the time of Sulla (c. 85 B.C.) were divided into four classes: citizens, farmers, resident aliens, and Jews. In 74 B.C. Cyrene was created a Roman province. While under the Egyptian kings the Jews had enjoyed equal rights, but now they were oppressed by the autonomous Greek population (Ant. XVI, 6:1). Luke later mentions that the Synagogue of the Freedmen in Jerusalem included men from Cyrene, Alexandria (Egypt), Cilicia and Asia (Acts 6:9). Several Jews of Cyrene are known to history, among them being Jason of Cyrene, whose work is the source of the Second Book of Maccabees (see 2Macc. 2:23), and Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross for Yeshua (Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26). Luke also mentions Jewish Cyrenians who became messengers of the good news (Acts 11:20; 13:1).
and: Grk. kai. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. visiting: Grk. epidēmeō, pres. part., stay in a locality while in transit; visit, stay for a while. from Rome: Grk. Rhōmaios, adj., derived from Rhōmē, the capital of Italy and the Roman empire. The adjective is used here in reference to persons having the right of Roman citizenship. Rome dates from 753 BC and is named for its legendary founder Romulus. Initially the city was built on the Palatine hill on the west bank of the Tiber River, but the city expanded over six neighboring hills and became known as "the city of seven hills" (NIBD 927). Over the centuries Rome transitioned in its form of government from a monarchy, to a republic, to a dictatorial empire.
The Jewish Encyclopedia article on Rome says that during the last decades of the second century BC, after the war between the Hasmonean brothers on one side and Julius Caesar and Pompey on the other, the Jewish community in Rome grew very rapidly. The Jews who were taken to Rome as prisoners were either ransomed by their fellow Jews or set free by their Roman masters, who found their peculiar custom obnoxious. The Jews settled as traders on the right bank of the Tiber, and thus originated the Jewish quarter in Rome. The Jews identified themselves with Roman politics and exerted at times some influence at public meetings (Cicero, Pro Flacco, Chap. LXVI). The Jews in Rome maintained constant commercial relations with Israel and paid the Temple tax in Jerusalem.
Julius Caesar, on account of the assistance which the Jews had rendered him in his war with Pompey, showed his gratitude toward the Roman Jews by permitting them to hold public devotional exercises, otherwise not allowed in the city. Synagogues existed in Rome as early as the time of Augustus, as is evidenced by an enactment declaring their inviolability. The Jews were further favored in connection with the distribution of grain, for when the apportionment occurred on the Sabbath their share was reserved for them until the day following. Through Jewish influence several prominent Romans adopted Jewish customs, and some even embraced Judaism.
However, the reign of Tiberius (14-37 A.D.), until the removal of his minister Sejanus, was a time of misfortune for the Jews in Rome (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 3:4-5; Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Tiberius, Book III, 36:1). When the cult of Isis was driven out of Rome (AD 19) the Jews were also expelled, because a Roman lady who inclined toward Judaism had been deceived by Jewish swindlers. The synagogues were closed, the vessels burned, and 4,000 Jewish youths were sent upon military service to Sardinia. So, at this time in AD 30 the pilgrims from Rome could have been Jews who were Roman citizens (as Paul) and had not been expelled, or possibly Jewish expatriates who had been expelled and taken up residence in others places. Only after the death of Sejanus (AD 31) did Tiberius allow the Jews to return.
11 "both traditional Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them speaking in our own languages the great things of God."
The exclamation of wonder that began in verse 7 continues and concludes in this verse. both: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; both. traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 5 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. proselytes: pl. of Grk. prosēlutos, originally meant "one that has arrived at a place, stranger, sojourner" and then one who has come over to Judaism, a convert, proselyte (LSJ). The Greek word prosēlutos is a technical term invented by the Jewish rabbis who translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. The term occurs nowhere in classical Greek literature (DNTT 1:360). Prosēlutos occurs only four times in the Besekh (Matt 23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43). In the LXX prosēlutos occurs 83 times, 80 of which renders Heb. ger (SH-1616), a sojourner or temporary dweller with no inheritance rights, first in Exodus 12:48. This term is variously translated as "alien, foreigner, immigrant, sojourner or stranger" in English Bibles.
Assimilation of non-Israelites into the covenant people has a long history. The first converts properly date back to the sons of Jacob, some of whom took Canaanite wives (Gen 38:2; 46:10). Moses also married two non-Israelite women, a Midianite (Ex 2:21) and a Cushite (Num 12:1). Then the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt included many "strangers" of that land (Ex 12:38, 48). The next non-Israelite to join the covenant people was Rahab, a Canaanite who married Salmon (Josh 6:17-25; Matt 1:5; Heb 11:31). She was followed by Ruth, a Moabite who married Boaz (Ruth 4:10; Matt 1:5). David's elite warriors included Uriah the Hittite (2Sam 11:3; 23:39), and although there is no mention of his circumcision it was likely done because of their relationship.
In the time of Esther (4th cent. BC) when the decree went out allowing the Jews to take revenge for Haman's plot (Esth 8:11-13), many people in the provinces chose to become Jews to escape death (Esth 8:17; 9:27), which of necessity for males meant circumcision. In the late 2nd century BC John Hyrcanus (164-104 BC), a Hasmonean leader, subdued the cities of Idumea (the ancient Edomites), and permitted them to stay in that country if they would be circumcised and adopt Jewish customs, to which they agreed (cf. Ant. XIII, 9:1). Since the Pharisees date from the time of Hyrcanus this proselytizing of the Edomites may reflect their influence.
The term "proselyte" also appears in Philo (Special Laws I). Philo (c. 20 BC−AD 50) says that proselytes are so called from "the fact of their having come over to a new and God-fearing constitution, learning to disregard the fabulous inventions of other nations, and clinging to unalloyed truth" (51). He also says of them that they "have left their country, and their friends, and their relations for the sake of virtue and holiness" (52). The declaration of Ruth, "Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God" (Ruth 1:16) typified the sentiment of proselytes.
In the first century many Gentiles expressed a deep interest in learning about Judaism, which is remarkable considering that Jews were regarded everywhere with disfavor and Judaism was sneered at as a barbaric superstition (Schurer 2:291f, 312). Wherever there was a Jewish synagogue there was also a devoted body of Gentiles attached to it (Ibid., 308, 312). Josephus confirms that a great number of Gentiles in various places of the Diaspora embraced the Jewish religion and lived by Jewish customs (Ant. XIV, 7:2; XVIII, 3:5; XX, 2:1, 4). However, many Gentiles went further to convert fully to Judaism, which was a testament to the effectiveness of Pharisee missionary activity (cf. Matt 23:15).
The term "proselyte" as used in the Besekh is known in Rabbinic tradition as the righteous proselyte (Heb. ger tzedek) or proselyte of the covenant (Heb. ger ha-b'rit). The proselyte chose full identification with Israel (cf. 2Chr 2:17-18; Esth 8:17), and, if male, had to comply with a religious process that consisted of three specific requirements to complete conversion based on the assumption that proselyte and native Israelite should be treated alike (Num 15:14). The three requirements were (1) circumcision (Ex 12:48); (2) ritual ablution or immersion in a mikveh (Yeb. 46a); and (3) a sacrifice of atonement or burnt offering (Ker. 2:1; 8b, 9a). The preferred sacrifice was of cattle, but to lessen the hardship an offering of fowls was considered to be sufficient.
A righteous proselyte was considered as a "child newly born" (Yeb. 22a). A righteous proselyte was bound to all the doctrines and precepts of the Torah, and considered a full member of the Jewish people. A righteous proselyte could participate fully in all religious festivals and enjoyed all the legal rights and privileges accorded native Israelites. The proselyte was to be present at the reading of the Torah (Deut 31:12), demonstrating his willingness to be bound by its demands. In terms of piety a righteous proselyte lived as a traditional Jew in accordance with Pharisee traditions.
However, no proselyte of any kind was ever called a Jew by Jews, probably because of the ethnic definition of the descendants of Jacob, the distinctive promise of the land of Israel to the Jews in perpetuity and the special relationship of the Jews to the Torah (cf. Gal. 5:3) (Stern 339). Proselytes had no inheritance rights in the Land promised to the Israelites. Only in the age to come will proselytes be granted land among the tribes of Israel (Ezek 47:22-23). God never required Gentiles to be circumcised to receive salvation and the issue will be confronted at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).
Cretans: pl. of Grk. Krēs, an inhabitant of Crete, derived from Krētē, a mountainous island south of mainland Greece, running 170 miles east to west but never more than about 35 miles wide. The island had a long history as a center of maritime commerce. Crete came under Roman rule in 67 BC and became part of a double province with Cyrene, under a proconsul who ruled the island and the opposite coast of North Africa from the Roman capital Gortyna. The noun Krēs occurs only twice in the Besekh. The other mention is in Titus 1:12 where Paul repeats a saying of one of their prophets, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" (NASB).
and: Grk. kai. Arabians: pl. of Grk. Araps, an inhabitant of Arabia. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The corresponding noun for the land of Arabia (Grk. Arabia for Heb. Arab, "a desert plateau") occurs twice in the Besekh (Gal 1:17; 4:25). Arabia, Arabs and Arabians are mentioned a number of times in the Tanakh (2Chr 9:14; 17:11; 21:16; 22:1; 26:7; Neh 2:19; 4:1; 6:1; Isa 13:20; 21:13; Jer 3:2; 25:24; Ezek 27:21). Bruce says that the biblical name refers to the Nabataean Kingdom, which incorporated a large territory, including the Sinai peninsula south of Idumea, and east of the Decapolis and the Tetrarchy of Philip, with its capital at Petra. This kingdom was at the height of its power under Aretas IV (9 BC‒AD 40), who is mentioned by Paul (2Cor 11:32). A daughter of Aretas was the first wife of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, whom he divorced in order to marry Herodias (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 5:1-3). There is an old tradition that Paul visited Petra when he went into Arabia (Gal 1:17) ("Sela," ISBE).
we hear: Grk. akouō, pres. See verse 6 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. in our own: Grk. hēmeteros, an emphatic possessive pronoun; our, our own. languages: pl. of Grk. glōssa. See verse 3 and 4 above. the great things: Grk. megaleios, adj., magnificently impressive, used here to signify "mighty things or deeds." The word occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX megaleios occurs twice and renders Heb. gadel (SH-1433), "greatness," (Deut 11:2) and Heb. gadol (SH-1419), "great" (Ps 71:19) to describe the perfections of God and His wonderful doings.
of God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe as described in Scripture (Gen 1─3; John 1:1-3; Rom 1:25). In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9).
In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. Bruce notes that the Judean authorities appear to have sanctioned the use of any language in reciting standard prayers, such as the Shema and Amidah. The praises of God in various languages were thus heard frequently in Jerusalem during the great festivals when so many pilgrims from the Diaspora were present in the city. The extraordinary aspect of the miracle is that the members of the audience heard the message being spoken to them in their own dialects by Galileans. Bruce describes the event a surely nothing less than a reverse of the curse of Babel.
Additional Note on the Diaspora Locations
Bible versions are divided over the placement of the clause "Jews and proselytes," some at the end of verse 10 (e.g., AMP, ASV, CSB, KJV, NASB, NEB, NKJV, NRSV, RSV) and others at the beginning of verse 11 (CJB, ESV, GNB, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, OJB, TLV). Chapter and verse divisions are purely arbitrary, since the original Greek MSS had neither. Chapter divisions were introduced by Stephen Langton in 1227 and verse divisions were inserted by Robert Estienne in the 1551 edition of his Greek text (Textus Receptus). Chapter and verse divisions are not inspired by the Holy Spirit. The verse division placing "Jews and proselytes" at the end of verse 10 is supported by the Textus Receptus and the Westcott-Hort Greek Text (1881). The other verse division is supported by the Nestle Greek Text (1904) and subsequent editions. Notably the Latin Vulgate (405), the earliest version with chapter and verse divisions, has "Jews and proselytes" beginning verse 11.
The relevance of the list of locations in verses 9-11 is that these places were part of the Jewish Diaspora. The term "diaspora" occurs in passages of the LXX and Besekh that speak of the removal of Israelite peoples from the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah and scattering them into other lands, first into Assyria and then into Babylon (Deut 28:25; 30:4; Neh 1:9; Ps 147:2; Isa 49:6; Jer 15:7; 34:17; 2Macc 1:27) and from there into other lands (John 7:35; Jas 1:1; 1Pet 1:1). By the first century A.D. there were numerous Jewish settlements in Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, Italy and the islands of the Aegean, that had resulted from emigration (sometimes voluntary and sometimes forced) from Babylon (Tarn & Griffith 219; Schurer 2:223).
Philo declared that "the Jews are exceedingly numerous in every city of Asia and Syria" (On the Embassy to Gaius, 245). Further in his letter Philo quotes a letter from Agrippa I to Caligula in which he says that Jerusalem is the Mother City not only for the Jews of Judaea, but also those of Egypt, Phoenicia, Syria, Coel-Syria, Pamphylia, Cilicia, Asia, Bithynia, Pontus, Europe, Thessaly, Boeotia, Macedonia, Aeolia, Attica, Argos, Corinth, the Peloponnese, the isles of Euboea, Cyprus, Crete, the lands beyond the Euphrates, Babylonia and its neighboring satrapies (281-283; Jeremias 63).
Philo also estimated that there were about a million Jews in Egypt; two out of the five wards which made up the city of Alexandria were Jewish in population (On Flaccus 43, 55). Josephus reported that "the ten tribes [of Israel in the Diaspora] … are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers" (Ant., XI, 5:2). Thus, the pilgrims who witnessed the Shavuot miracle included the descendants of Jewish people resident in these locations as well as non-Israelite converts to Judaism native to those lands.
The regional dialects heard by the pilgrims as determined by their places of origin would be Anatolian, Aramaic, Egyptian, Elamite, Cappadocian Greek, Koine Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Levantine, Median, Pamphylian, Phrygian, Old Persian, Parthian, Phoenician, and Pontian.
12 Now they all were amazed and perplexed, saying one to another, "What is this intended to be?"
Now: Grk. de, conj. they all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. The adjective is used of the crowd witnessing the signs of the Spirit. were amazed: Grk. existēmi, impf. mid., which expressing the idea of causing or undergoing a psychological change suggesting demeanor or impressionableness outside normal expectation. The verb is used two ways: (1) in the transitive sense of make a profound impression on someone by astonishing; amaze; and (2) in the intransitive sense of being amazed or overwhelmed; be amazed. The second usage applies here. and: Grk. kai, conj. perplexed: Grk. diaporeō, impf., to experience difficulty in dealing with information, thus to be perplexed or at a loss. The verb occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in Luke-Acts. Stern notes that there were two reactions to what God did—as usual (cf. John 7:43).
Their confusion is indicated by what they said. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. one: Grk. allos, adj., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; one, other (of two), another. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110). Here the preposition denotes being in company with others and speaking face to face. another: Grk. allos. What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. is this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. intended: Grk. thelō, pres., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 1 above.
Many versions translate the question as "What does this mean?" The question could be "What does God want by producing these signs?" or "What do these men want by their extraordinary actions?" The question is not concerned specifically about what the signs mean as what was intended by the production of the signs, whether they were from God or from men.
13 But others, mocking, were saying that, "They are full of new wine."
But: Grk. de, conj. others: pl. of Grk. heteros, adj. See verse 4 above. mocking: Grk. chleuazō, pres. part., to engage in derisive disdain; jeer, mock, scoff. were saying: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 7 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 6 above. Here the conjunction introduces a direct quotation and functions as quotation marks. They are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. full: Grk. mestoō, perf. pass. part., to fill, be full of. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. of sweet new wine: Grk. gleukos, sweet new wine or simply new wine as distinguished from aged wine (Danker; DNTT 3:922; LSJ). The term occurs only here in the Besekh. DSB, Mounce, Strong and Thayer define gleukos as unfermented juice of grapes, but this is reading a preferred meaning into the term.
LSJ lists only one source in classical Greek literature where gleukos means the juice of the grape and another where it simply means sweetness. Otherwise gleukos is used in Greek literature for sweet new wine. In the LXX gleukos occurs once in Job 32:19 to render Heb. yayin (SH-3196), the standard word in the Tanakh for fermented wine. Bruce says that the passage in Job, spoken by Elihu, appears in the LXX in a form which may be rendered: "My belly is like a bound wineskin fermenting with new (or 'sweet') wine." The term gleukos also occurs in Josephus (Ant. II, 5:2), in the story of Joseph in which the cupbearer recounts a vision of serving wine to Pharaoh.
The statement here is not the apostles saying "we only drink sweet grape juice." Rather, the statement is made by the critics who recognize that "sweet new wine" is alcoholic. In fact, all the Hebrew and Greek words in Scripture for "wine" do, in fact, mean the fermented beverage. The point of the critics witnessing the Shavuot miracle is that the strange behavior of the disciples must have been the result of intoxication, as Peter's rebuttal in verse 15 below clearly states. We need to remember that the process to prevent fermentation of grape juice wasn't discovered until the 19th century. Thomas Welch (1825-1903), an American Methodist dentist, was the first to succeed in producing unfermented grape juice for general consumption.
The description of "sweet" in "sweet new wine" is relative as it denotes the level of residual sugar (glucose and fructose) that is not converted into alcohol during fermentation. Fermentation begins soon after crushing the grapes. Sweet new wine had a higher level of residual sugar than aged wine. Sweet wine could be made by allowing grapes to become overripe on the vine so that they have plenty of sugar to spare for both sweetness and alcohol. Sweet wine can also be made by halting the fermentation process early. Bruce notes that even though the vintage of the current year was till some months off, there were ways and means of keeping wine sweet all the year round.
Additional Note on Wine
Throughout Scripture "wine" always refers to the fermented beverage made from grapes regardless of its age or potency. The first mention of wine in the Bible is that made by Noah (Gen 9:21), from which he became drunken and his son Canaan took advantage of him. Wine was an important commodity and a popular beverage in ancient times (Gen 14:18; 1Sam 25:18; Ps 104:15; Prov 3:10; Matt 9:17; Luke 7:33-34; John 2:3-11; 1Tim 5:23). The production of wine was a promised blessing of God (Gen 27:28, 37; Deut 7:13; 11:14; 33:28; Joel 2:19, 24).
Wine was an important part of Jewish culture and not only consumed with meals, but also figured prominently in festival observance (Deut 14:26; 16:13). Wine was given as a first fruits offering to the priests (Deut 18:4; Ezra 6:9; Neh 10:37; 13:12) and poured out as a drink offering with sacrifices (Ex 25:29; 29:40; Lev 23:13, 18; Num 15:5; Deut 18:4; 1Sam 1:24). God also provided a number of instructions to Israel for managing their vineyards (Ex 22:5; 23:11; Lev 19:10; 25:3-4; Deut 22:9; 23:24; 24:21).
Yeshua, too, drank wine and drew a contrast between himself and Yochanan the Immerser on the practice (Matt 11:18-19; Luke 7:33-34; cf. 1Tim 5:23), so there is no moral distinction made between drinking and not drinking. Wine featured prominently in the Last Supper since it was the Passover Seder (1Cor 11:22-27). The mention of "fruit of the vine" (Matt 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18) alludes to the blessing spoken before drinking. Paul even advises Timothy to drink wine for health reasons (1Tim 5:23) and modern scientific research has confirmed the health benefits of the moderate use of wine.
The concerns and sometimes criticism voice by people in Scripture against drunkenness exist because the wine was fermented and some people overindulged. There are only three prohibitions in Scripture regarding consumption of wine. The first prohibition concerns avoidance of drunkenness (Prov 20:1; 23:20-21, 29-35; Rom 13:13; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1Pet 4:3). The second prohibition concerns consumption of wine by a priest while offering Temple sacrifices (Lev 10:9; Ezek 44:21) and the third prohibition had to do with Nazirites for their consecration (Num 6:2-3). Paul also gave instructions not to appoint congregation leaders who are addicted to "much wine" (1Tim 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7; 2:3).
14 But Peter, having stood with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men, Judeans and all those staying in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.
But: Grk. de, conj. Peter: Grk. Petros, personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." Petros translates the Hebrew name Kêpha ("rock"), a loanword in Hebrew (SH-3710; BDB 495), which was given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42). Peter was unquestionably the leader of the apostles. For a summary of Peter's life and ministry see my article Simon Peter: Fisherman-Apostle. having stood: Grk. histēmi, aor. pass. part., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; or (2) be in an upright position, used of bodily posture. The second meaning applies here in contrast with the mention previously of them sitting (verse 2 above).
with: Grk. sun, prep. used to denote association or close identification. the eleven: Grk. hendeka, eleven, a cardinal number. Luke uses "the eleven" of the apostles besides Peter. The apostles are depicted as a unified group and when Peter speaks he speaks for all of them. Bruce comments that "whatever account we may give of the geography of the fist four verses of this chapter, it is difficult to think of a more appropriate setting for Peter's address than the outer court of the temple." raised: Grk. epairō, aor., to raise up over, used here of speaking loud enough to be heard. his: Grk. autos, pers. pron. voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 6 above on "sound." and: Grk. kai, conj. declared: Grk. apophtheggomai, aor. See verse 4 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. Peter spoke with the voice of authority.
Readers should consider that Luke was present on Pentecost and so the words of Peter's sermon likely represent a verbatim transcript. Luke offers no suggestion that Peter spoke in a language unknown to himself. The sermon could have been in Hebrew, the common language among Jews in Judea, and the Greek text here is Luke's translation. However, it is probably more likely that Peter spoke in Jewish Greek, which would have been more familiar to Diaspora pilgrims. It is unreasonable to suppose that Peter did not have any skill in the Greek language since Galilee had long felt the impact of Hellenistic language and culture, going back to the time of Seleucid kings. The choice of vocabulary in the sermon demonstrates considerable facility in the Greek language.
Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. case. See verse 5 above. The direct address of anēr in speaking to groups appears 29 times in Acts. "Men" would take in the entire crowd hearing the sermon. For Jews the Torah required that all adult males be present for the festival (Num 9:2; Deut 16:16-17). Pilgrims from the Diaspora did not necessarily take their entire family with them to Jerusalem. The address of "men," a greeting of courtesy, would also include Gentile proselytes (verse 11 above) in contrast to the next category. Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, adj., voc. case. See verse 5 above. Some versions render Andres Ioudaioi with "Fellow Jews" (CSB, MSG, NCV, NEB, NIRV, NIV, NLT, TEV), which obscures the specific nature of the greeting.
Many versions treat the noun as the place name and have "of Judea" (AMP, DRA, ESV, GW, HNV, ISV, MEV, MRINT, MW, NASB, NET, NKJV, NLV, NOG, NRSV, RSV, WE, WEB). A few versions have "of Judaea" (DARBY, JUB, KJV, MOFFATT, NJB, NTE). For the translation "of Judea" we should expect Ioudaios to be in the genitive case. Being in the vocative case argues for a separate address. Peter could have meant "Judean" as a contrast to the following reference to those staying in Jerusalem. He could also have intended it to mean observant traditional Jews as in verse 5 above.
and: Grk. kai. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. staying: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part. See verse 5 above. in Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm. See verse 5 above. let this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. be: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. known: Grk. gnōstos, adj. (from ginōskō, to know), perceived, understood, known, which may be used to mean (1) known, such as being known to someone; or (2) that which can be known or what can be known about something. The second usage applies here. to you: pl. of Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. and: Grk. kai. give ear: Grk. enōtizomai, aor. mid. imp., pay close attention to; give ear to, listen to. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh.
to my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. words: pl. of Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In secular Greek literature rhēma referred to a statement, discourse or explanation. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch and prophetic writings for the Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing." Thus, rhēma, standing for dabar, can mean both (a) a word or utterance as well as (b) a matter, event, or case in the sense of the result of things said or done (DNTT 3:1119f). The verbal phrase "give ear to my words" anticipates what Peter actually says in verses 15-36.
15 For these are not intoxicated as you suppose, for it is the third hour of the day.
For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, used of the disciples manifesting the vocal sign of the Spirit. are not: Grk. ou, adv. intoxicated: Grk. methuō, pres., to be drunk as a result of imbibing to excess an intoxicating beverage, such as wine. as: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here with focus on the idea of a pattern or model. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. suppose: Grk. hupolambanō, pres., may mean (1) take in a manner that conceals; (2) take in under one's care; (3) take a subject to another stage in conversation and (4) take a particular viewpoint. The fourth meaning applies here.
for: Grk. gar. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. the third: Grk. tritos, adj., third in a serial sense. hour: Grk. hōra may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; "the hour was already late;" or (3) fig. for a point of time as occasion for action or for an event; time. The first usage applies here. of the day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. The noun as used here refers to the daylight hours. The third hour counted from sunrise would be about 9-10 am. At the Temple determination of the time was made from an improvised sundial on a stairway (cf. 2Kgs 20:9-11; Isa 38:8). Peter points out a fact that should have been obvious to the critics. As Paul notes people become drunk at night (1Th 5:7). Stern comments that Peter disposes of the closed-minded skeptics and scorners before addressing the open-minded but bewildered remainder.
16 But this is that having been spoken through the prophet Joel:
But: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. that: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. The opening phrase of the verse is meant to convey that the strange phenomena of wind, flames of fire and proclamation in multiple languages was not an occult or pagan manifestation, but a fulfillment of prophecy (DSB). having been spoken: Grk. ereō, perf. pass. part., inform through utterance, here denoting speech completed. through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here.
the prophet: Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In ancient Greek culture the word-group always had a religious meaning and referred to one who predicts or tells beforehand (DNTT 3:76). In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. The Hebrew prophets were a diverse group with different personalities, vocations and manner of ministry, but they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). The literary works of the prophets in the Tanakh are authoritative Scripture (Matt 5:17-19; Luke 24:44-45; 2Tim 3:16-17).
Joel: Grk. Iōēl, a transliteration of the Heb. Yoel ("yo-ale"), a proper name meaning "Yah is God." (The English spelling of "Joel" began with the Mace New Testament, 1729.) Joel was the second writing prophet (after Obadiah) and author of the book that bears his name, written c. 800 BC (Purkiser 403). Historical information about the prophet is completely lacking in Jewish sources. Joel identifies himself as the son of Pethuel, about whom we know nothing. The name of Joel was common in ancient Israel, especially among Levites, with twelve other men by the name mentioned in the Tanakh.
Peter then proceeds to quote from Joel 2:28-32.
Additional Note on Joel
The ministry of Joel occurred during the reign of Joash (2Kgs 12:1-21). Joash took the throne at the age of seven (c. 835 B.C.) and reigned forty years. During the king's minority, Jehoiada, the high priest, exercised a strong positive influence in both the civil and religious life of the nation. After the death of Jehoiada, however, Joash listened to ungodly advisers and the nation turned to idolatry (2Chr 24:17-18).
Ezra writes that in this time of rebellion "ADONAI sent prophets to them to bring them back to Him and although they admonished them, they would not listen" (2Chr 24:19 TLV). It was probably in this time God sent judgment in the form of a locust plague as Joel described in his book. Distinctive features of the book of Joel include seven references to Zion (2:1, 15, 23, 32; 3:16, 17, 21), the historic name for Jerusalem, and seven mentions of the Day of ADONAI.
Joel addresses his sermon received from ADONAI to the elders of the nation and the inhabitants of the land (1:2), and later to the priests (2:16-17). In the first chapter he outlines the judgment that has fallen on the agriculture of the land and calls upon the elders and citizens to gather at the temple to fast and pray (1:14), because the Day of ADONAI when He judges His people will come (1:15). In the second chapter Joel warns again of the coming Day of ADONAI (2:1, 11, 31) and draws a parallel between the locust invasion and what will happen on that Day.
Joel calls upon the nation to repent and return to their God (2:13). The end of the chapter contains the prophecies which Peter repeats in his sermon. In chapter 3 Joel gives his final warning to get ready for the Day of ADONAI (3:14). Joel saw, as Zechariah will later describe in more detail, the nations gathered against Israel (3:2, 11-12) and God will judge the enemies of Israel.
That Peter should quote from Joel would not have been a surprise since it was considered a Messianic book. Rabbinic literature understands Joel as referring to the world to come (Num. Rab. 15-25; Deut. Rab. 6:14; Tanh. Miqqetz 10; cited by Gilbert 202). The Messiah is alluded to in Joel 2:23, "Children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in ADONAI your God for He has given to you the Teacher [Heb. moreh, SH-4175] of Righteousness [Heb. tsedaqah, SH-6666] and He will cause to be poured down for you the rain, the early rain [Autumn] and the latter rain [Spring] as before" (mine).
Unfortunately, the Messianic promise of this verse is obscured in most versions. The "early rain" is a hint of the teaching and works of the Messiah (cf. Ex 16:4; Deut 32:2-4; Ps 78:24; Hos 6:3; 10:12). The "latter rain" is a hint of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28; cf. Deut 11:14).
The recognition of the phrase hammoreh l'tsadaqah as meaning "Teacher of Righteousness" may be found in a few modern versions (DRA, GW, MSG, NOG, YLT) and two early English versions (Wycliffe and Coverdale). The translation of hammoreh l'tsadaqah in most versions as "the early rain for your vindication" seems entirely inappropriate given the prevalent idolatry and Joel's call of the nation to repentance (2:12-13). The nation was not innocent and deserving of vindication.
The concept of the Teacher of Righteousness, or Righteous Teacher, occurs frequently in the DSS, such as in the Damascus Document (CD 1:11; 20:32) and in the Commentary on Habakkuk (1QpHab 1:13; 2:2; 5:10; 7:4; 8:3; 9:9; 11:5). In the Besekh we find Yeshua was recognized as a teacher of righteousness (Matt 22:16).
For more information on the Messianic character of the book of Joel see Walter C. Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 1995; and Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, 1992, online.
17 "'And it will be in the last days," says God, "I will pour out from my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams;
[Joel 2:28] And: Grk. kai, conj. it will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 1 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the last: Grk. eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others; end, last. The adj. is used of place, of position, of rank/status, and of time. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. The "last days" is a concept in Jewish literature associated with the arrival of the Messiah and for the apostles the advent of Yeshua meant that the last days had begun (Heb 1:2). DSB notes the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in only a preliminary sense. Its complete fulfillment must await the time of the end, as the continuation of the prophecy in Joel 3 and corresponding prophecies in the book of Revelation indicate.
Peter offers a free interpretation of Joel's words, since the clause in the Hebrew text says, "And it shall come to pass after this" and the LXX says, "And it will be after these things" (ABP). In reference to the opening clause in Joel 2:28, Gill comments:
"'And it shall come to pass afterward' … After the teacher of righteousness has been sent, and a plentiful rain of the Gospel has been let down in the land of Judea, in the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles, and such a comfortable enjoyment of the blessings of grace in it, and the knowledge of God by it; and after the wonderful work of redemption wrought by Christ."
says: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 7 above. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 11 above. I will pour out: Grk. ekcheō, fut., cause to come out in a stream, pour out. The verb has a variety of literal applications, but is used here metaphorically of the Holy Spirit. In the LXX ekcheō normally renders Heb. shaphak (SH-8210), an equally general word for pour, used in the physical sense of things, first in relation to shedding blood in murder (Gen 9:6; 37:22), second of discharging semen (Gen 38:9), third of pouring out water (Ex 4:9; 30:18), and fourth in relation to purification rites, particularly occasions of pouring out blood of sacrifices at the base of the altar (Ex 29:12; Lev 4:7).
from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 5 above. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Spirit: Grk. Pneuma. See verse 4 above. So, now that the Teacher of Righteousness has come, the promise of the Holy Spirit can be fulfilled. The promise of the outpouring of the Spirit also occurs in other passages of the Tanakh (Isa 32:15; 44:3; Ezek 36:27; 39:29; Zech 12:10). Just as the pouring out of blood cleanses sin (Ex 30:10; Lev 17:11; Heb 2:22; 1Jn 1:7), so the pouring out of the Holy Spirit also sanctifies the person's spirit (Acts 15:8-9; Rom 15:16; 1Cor 6:11; 2Th 2:13; 1Pet 1:2). upon: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 1 above. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. In this situation "all" indicates no discrimination of who may receive the Spirit.
flesh: Grk. sarx has a variety of literal and figurative uses: (1) the tissue that covers the skeleton of a human or animal; (2) the whole body viewed as a substance; (3) man of flesh and blood in contrast to God and supernatural beings; (4) human or mortal nature, with its limitations; (5) the external or outward side of life; (6) theologically the willing instrument of sin that stands in opposition to the Spirit; and (7) the genitals without any suggestion of sinfulness connected with it (BAG). A combination of the third and fourth meanings probably dominates here.
In the LXX sarx renders two Hebrew words: basar (SH-1321), first in Gen 2:21, and she'er (SH-7871), first in Lev 18:6. By far the most frequent is basar (266 times vs. 17 times) (DNTT 1:671). Basar has the same range of meaning as sarx, but basar can also mean the person as a whole and blood kindred. As an idiom "all flesh" may denote mankind in general or all nations. The first usage of the idiom occurs in the account of the deluge in Noah's time when God said that His Spirit would not always strive with men and gave them 120 years to repent (Gen 6:3), because "all flesh" had become corrupted (Gen 6:12). Moses did not mean that sin resided in the physical body. In the same manner the prophecy of Joel did not mean that the Spirit's work focused on the physical body.
In order for the disciples of Yeshua to accomplish anything for God they would need to have their hearts purified by the Holy Spirit. For Peter, as it does for Joel, "all flesh" would denote the people of Israel. Clarke quotes Rabbi Tanchum, a 3rd century Jewish scholar as saying, "When Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, the holy blessed God said, 'In the time of the old text, each individual prophet prophesied; but, in the times of the Messiah, all the Israelites shall be prophets.'" Yet, Peter will learn later that "all flesh" includes Gentiles as the expression means in the Tanakh.
and: Grk. kai. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. sons: pl. of Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. and: Grk. kai. your: Grk. humeis. daughters: pl. of Grk. thugatēr, a female offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX thugatēr renders Heb. bath (SH-1323), which is used of a female child born of a woman, an adopted daughter, a daughter-in-law and young women generally.
will prophesy: Grk. prophēteuō, fut., may mean (1) to proclaim a divine revelation; (2) prophetically reveal what is hidden; or (3) foretell the future, prophesy (BAG). In the LXX prophēteuō generally translates Heb. nava, which means to show, present or express oneself, to speak as a prophet (DNTT 3:77). The Hebrew verb primarily means to speak prophetically, that is "forth-telling," with occasional predictions (foretelling). Luke identifies several men as prophets (Acts 11:27), including Agabus (Acts 11:28; 21:10), and then Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius and Manaen at Antioch (Acts 13:1). The promise of "your daughters will prophesy" is an important reminder that God does anoint women for serving as His messengers. Miriam, the sister of Moses (Ex 15:20), Deborah (Judg 4:4), Hannah (1Sam 2:1-10), Huldah (2Kgs 22:14), Noadiah (Neh 6:14), Isaiah's wife (Isa 8:3), Hannah (Luke 2:36) and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9), spoke prophetically under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
and: Grk. kai. your: Grk. humeis. young men: pl. of Grk. neaniskos, a young man, a youth. In Jewish culture this would be those having passed bar mitzvah age and under 40. will see: Grk. horaō, fut. mid. See verse 3 above. visions: pl. of Grk. horasis, may mean (1) the outward impression made by something or (2) a transcendent revelatory appearance. The second meaning applies here. A vision is a pictographic message experienced while awake. In the LXX horasis is used to translate eight different Hebrew terms, and in the quoted verse horasis translates Heb. chizzayon (SH-2384), vision, first used in 2Samuel 7:17 of Nathan's prophecy to David of a future kingdom. The term would suggest visions that relate to the Messianic kingdom.
and: Grk. kai. your: Grk. humeis. old men: pl. of Grk. presbuteros may mean (1) ranked as superior in age, older, older one; or (2) ranked in terms of official responsibility, elder(s). The first meaning probably applies here with the idea of mature men having seasoned judgment, since the term serves as a contrast to "young men." In the LXX presbuteros renders Heb. zaqen (old, aged; and in the plural "elders," BDB 278). Presbuteroi first occurs in Exodus 19:7 to identify the leaders of Israel. It was from this group that the seventy elders were chosen to assist Moses (Num 11:24). In the context of Joel the term zaqen probably meant "elders" in a generic sense of recognized leaders.
will dream: Grk. enupniazomai, fut., to experience dreams during one's sleep. dreams: pl. of Grk. enupnion, a succession of images passing through the mind during sleep. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. Dreams can be "visionary" if they contain messages from God. In the LXX of the verse enupnion translates Heb. chalom (SH-2472), a dream, a term appearing 30 times in the Tanakh and may intend ordinary dreams or dreams with prophetic content (Gen 28:12; 37:5-6). Here "dreams" may function as a parallelism of "visions," but they may also be distinct as the ages of those who receive such revelations.
Additional Note on Dreams and Visions
In biblical times God spoke to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel in visions and dreams, as God declared, "Listen to what I say: when there is a prophet among you, I, ADONAI, make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. (Num 12:6 CJB). Indeed, it was considered a tragic loss when God withheld communication in this manner (cf. 1Sam 3:1; Ps 74:9; Ezek 7:26; Amos 8:11f). Recipients of visions included Abraham (Gen 15:1), Jacob (Gen 46:2), Moses (Ex 24:9-11; 25:9, 40), Nadab, Abihu and the seventy elders of Israel (Ex 24:9-11), Samuel (1Sam 3:15), Nathan (2Sam 7:17), Iddo (2Chr 9:29), Zechariah (2Chr 26:5), Isaiah (Isa 1:1), Ezekiel (Ezek 11:24), Daniel (Dan 8:1), Amos (Amos 1:1), Obadiah (Obad 1:1), Nahum (Nah 1:1) and Habakkuk (Hab 2:2).
In the Besekh Zechariah (Luke 1:22), Peter (Acts 9:10), Ananias (Acts 9:10), Cornelius (Acts 10:3), Paul (Acts 16:9; 18:9; 26:9; 2Cor 12:1) and John (Rev 9:17) received visions from God. God also spoke through dreams to Joseph (Gen 37:5), a friend of Gideon (Jdg 13:7-9), Solomon (1Kgs 3:5), Joseph (Matt 1:20; 2:13, 22), and the Magi (Matt 2:12).
Even though many modern Christians dispute the idea that visions and dreams can be means of supernatural guidance, Peter's recitation of Joel affirms that such means are not annulled in the age of the Spirit. For Peter the promise was extremely personal given the promised fulfillment was for Israelites. While the promise doesn't mention Gentiles receiving visions and dreams, God did communicate by these means with non-Israelites in the past, such as Abimelech (Gen 20:3), Laban (Gen 31:24), Pharaoh (Gen 41:1), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:1; 4:5), and Pilate’s wife (Matt 27:19). There is no expectation that disciples of Yeshua would seek visions. Just as the Spirit moves as He wills so God gives visions as He wills. In these modern times there are many reports out of the Middle East of Muslims experiencing visions of Yeshua that lead them to faith.
While the apostles received divine guidance by visions, Paul warned about listening to false prophets who take their stand based on visions they have had (Col 2:18). John likewise instructed disciples of Yeshua to "test the spirits" (1Jn 4:1). In the story of Job the supposed friend Eliphaz recounted an experience of having a vision in the night in which a spirit passed by his face and his hair stood on end (Job 4:13-15). The spirit criticized God saying, "against His angels He charges error" (Job 4:18). On the basis of this supposed revelation Eliphaz criticized Job's character. Demonic spirits can easily instigate dreams that would lead the person down the wrong path. The experience of Job is testament to the fact that the content of any dream or vision must be tested against Scripture. The disciple of Yeshua is called to walk by faith, not by sight.
18 "and indeed upon my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they will prophesy.
[Joel 2:29] and: Grk. kai, conj. indeed: Grk. ge, an emphatic particle with focus on the preceding words; assuredly, at least, indeed. upon: Grk. epi, prep. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The pronoun is emphatic and intends those devoted to God. male servants: pl. of Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant, and in Greek and Roman culture viewed as owned property totally and unquestioningly at the behest of the owner. In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. ebed, which did include the meaning of doulos but with a much broader application. In the Tanakh ebed is especially used of household servants, those who worked for the King and those who served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593).
and: Grk. kai. female servants: pl. of doulē, the feminine form of doulos, which refers to female servants or slaves. in: Grk. en, prep. those: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. I will pour out: Grk. ekcheō, fut. See the previous verse. my: Grk. egō. Spirit: Grk. Pneuma. See verse 4 above. and: Grk. kai. they will prophesy: Grk. prophēteuō, fut. See the previous verse. The promise of the Spirit is also for those considered in the lowest social strata. The power of the Spirit is no longer reserved to notable men and women in the congregation of Israel.
19 "And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
[Joel 2:30] And: Grk. kai, conj. I will cause: Grk. didōmi, fut., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity, but may be used to mean bestow, hand over, impart, entrust, yield, put, or sacrifice (BAG). Here the verb has the meaning of "to cause, produce or give forth from oneself" (Thayer). In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan (SH-5414, first in Gen 1:29), to give, put or set, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:41). Natan is also used of causing something miraculous (Ex 7:9; Deut 6:22; 13:1; 1Kgs 13:3; Isa 8:18). wonders: pl. of teras, a phenomenon with astounding effect; marvel, wonder, portent. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the plural and always coupled with "signs." In the LXX teras renders Heb. mopheth (SH-4159), a wonder, sign or portent. The term is used of special displays of God's power, especially the miracles performed through Moses and Aaron in Egypt (Ex 4:21; 11:10).
in: Grk. en, prep. the heavens: Grk. ouranos. See verse 2 above. Some versions have "sky" (CJB, CEV, GNB, GW, MW, NASB, NCV, NET, TLV), but this might be misleading since most people consider "sky" to refer to the region of the clouds. The noun is singular, but the corresponding Hebrew word is plural, and here may denote both atmosphere and interstellar space as the location of the wonders. above: Grk. anō, adv. of position or direction, above, upward. and: Grk. kai. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). The term "sign" has a variety of important uses in Scripture.
The first usage of "sign" is in Genesis 1:14 in which the stars would serve as signs that speak for God or even as portents of events on earth (cf. Ps 19:1f; Jer 10:2). "Sign" also referred to a visible manifestation of God’s grace and favor, as the rainbow, circumcision and the Sabbath are covenantal signs (Gen 9:12f, 17; 17:11; Ex 31:13, 17; Ezek 20:12). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Deut 4:34; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8). Sometimes a sign was a token that would serve as a warning or reminder, such as Aaron’s rod (Num 17:25) and the stones in the Jordan (Josh 4:6). These meanings frequently overlap and the use of the word "sign" may point backward to a historical event or even forward to the fulfillment of a promise.
on: Grk. epi, prep. the earth: Grk. gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The last meaning is intended here. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (SH-776), first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (BDB 75). below: Grk. katō, adv., of a position that is relatively lower in position or perceived as such, down, downward, or below. In Scripture the position of earth in relation to the heavens is always from the point of view of an observer standing on the earth. blood: Grk. haima, blood, whether human or animal.
The use of "blood" is most likely intended in the sense of bloodshed, that is the loss of human and/or animal life as a result of the "signs and wonders." and: Grk. kai. fire: Grk. pur. See verse 3 above. and: Grk. kai. vapor: Grk. atmis, moist vapor or steam with focus on a cloudy aspect; mist, vapor. of smoke: Grk. kapnos, smoke. The phrase "vapor of smoke" refers to the visible vapor and gases given off by a burning or smoldering substance, especially the gray, brown, or blackish mixture of gases and suspended carbon particles resulting from the combustion of organic matter. The description of fire and vapor of smoke could allude to a volcanic eruption.
20 "the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the great and glorious Day of ADONAI is to come.
[Joel 2:31] the sun: Grk. hēlios (for Heb. shemesh), the sun, the star that is the central body of the solar system, created on the fourth day to "govern the day" (Gen 1:16-19). The core temperature of the sun produced by nuclear fusion has been estimated above 27 million degrees F and the temperature at its surface about 10,000 degrees F. In both the solar system and on the earth "there is nothing hidden from its heat" (Ps 19:6). Its mean distance from the earth is about 93 million miles, which assures the right balance of heat, light and photosynthesis to sustain all of earth's physical and biological processes. The sun moves in an orbit through the Milky Way Galaxy (Ps 19:5-6), at a speed that scientists estimate to be 600,000 mph (BBMS 165).
will be turned: Grk. metastrephō, fut. pass., cause to change; turn. The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Gal 1:7; Jas 4:9). to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 5 above. The preposition could be intended to convey its normal meaning of direction, but it is more likely to support the idea of a change in state. darkness: Grk. skotos, absence of light or darkness. The darkness refers to diminished visible light on the earth, not that the light of the sun is extinguished. and: Grk. kai, conj. the moon: Grk. selēnē (for Heb. yareach), the earth's natural satellite, orbiting the earth at a mean distance of 238,857 miles and having a diameter of 2160 miles.
Like the sun the moon was created on the fourth day to "govern the night" (Gen 1:16). The "glory" of the moon is light reflected from the sun. As a result of the space program and lunar landings, the moon is now known to be completely void of life (just as the Bible indicates) but to be composed of similar rocks and minerals to those of earth. At the same time, the structure of the moon, as well as the proportions of the different rocks and minerals, is so vastly different from the corresponding attributes of Earth as to make it certain that the two could not have had a common evolutionary origin (BBMS 164).
to: Grk. eis. blood: Grk. haima. See the previous verse. Bruce sees a contemporary relevance to this prophecy in that darkness had fallen over the land for three hours during the early afternoon of the day Yeshua was crucified (Luke 23:44-45). Luke describes the darkness as a result of the sun having failed, Grk. ekleipō (lit. "to fail, to cease"), which Mounce and Danker defines as "eclipsed." Bruce comments that it could not have been a solar eclipse because the moon was full at the Passover festival. Lunar eclipses occur when Earth's shadow blocks the sun's light, which otherwise reflects off the moon.
During a total eclipse of the moon, the lunar disk is not completely dark, but is faintly illuminated with a red light refracted by the earth's atmosphere, which filters out the blue rays, resulting in what is popularly called a "blood moon." So, Bruce concludes, as a lunar eclipse the full moon may well have appeared blood-red in the sky in consequence of that preternatural gloom. However, according to the NASA catalog of lunar events, no lunar eclipse occurred on or near the date of the crucifixion in A.D. 30. A lunar eclipse might last 3-4 hours, but the duration of the darkness in a given locality does not generally last more than 60-90 minutes. So, three hours of darkness was not a normal eclipse, but a divinely created miracle. It was a graphic illustration that the Light of the World was being extinguished on the cross.
Peter does not offer an interpretation that Joel's prophecy of astronomical events had already happened or was even imminent. Peter simply provides the total context of the passage relevant to the signs of the Spirit witnessed on Pentecost. In reality Joel's prophecy in verses 30-31 finds its fulfillment in the sixth seal of Revelation (6:12-17). See my commentary there. The text in Revelation qualifies the prophecy of the moon with "like blood," i.e., looking like the color of blood. The combined report of Joel and Revelation prophesy a cataclysmic event on the earth and in the heavens that heralds the end of earth history and announces the dreaded day of God's wrath.
before: Grk. prin, prep., at a point in time earlier than the moment of a specified event or activity; before. the great: Grk. megas, adj., large or great in extent and used (1) of any extension in space in all directions; or (2) fig. of measure, whether of age, quantity, intensity, importance or social position (BAG). The adjective is used here to emphasize importance. and: Grk. kai. glorious: Grk. epiphanēs, notable, splendid, glorious. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. Day: Grk. hēmera (for Heb. yom). See verse 1 above. The word "day" refers to an appointed day on God's sovereign calendar.
of ADONAI: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. Christian versions translate the phrase as "Day of the Lord" even though kurios is absent the definite article. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, and in the overwhelming majority of instances (over 6,000 times), it replaces Heb. YHVH as it does here (DNTT 2:511).
While not reflected in Bible translations YHVH is not a title or a word for a deity, but the personal name of the God of Israel (Ex 3:15; 2Chr 14:11; Isa 42:8). Thus, "LORD" does not actually translate YHVH. In the Tanakh YHVH, who is the Divine Logos (John 1:1), is the One who speaks for Elohim, the name of the triune Creator. Yeshua is YHVH (John 8:58). For more information on the history and usage of YHVH see my article The Blessed Name.
is to come: Grk. erchomai, aor. inf., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. The Day of ADONAI is an important eschatological event. Joel's prophecy and its repetition in apostolic writings emphasizes that the wonders on earth and interstellar space occur before this day arrives. See my article The Day of the Lord, which summarizes biblical prophecies related to this climactic event of earth's history.
Additional Note on Blood Moons
Interest in the Blood Moon has arisen in recent times among some Evangelicals and Messianic Jews and needless anxiety has been fostered by false prophets. From an astronomical point of view the term Blood Moon refers to four total lunar eclipses that happen in the space of two years, a phenomenon astronomers call a lunar tetrad. The eclipses in a tetrad occur six months apart with at least six Full Moons between them. Usually, only about one in three lunar eclipses are total, and about four to five total eclipses can be seen from any single location on Earth in a decade. This means that lunar tetrads are rare occurrences, leading some to attach eschatological significance to these events.
The lunar tetrad of 2014–2015 gathered a lot of attention because of claims by some religious leaders that the eclipses in the tetrad were a sign of the end times. Some even called the eclipses Blood Moons after the prophecy in the book of Joel. Christian pastors Mark Blitz and John Hagee were instrumental in popularizing the prophetic nature of the 2014–2015 Blood Moons, which supposedly had special significance because they coincided with important Jewish festivals. The April 15, 2014 and April 4, 2015 Total Lunar Eclipses occurred at the same time as Pesach (Passover), while the October 8, 2014 and September 28, 2015 eclipses occurred during Sukkot (Feast of Booths).
The 2014–2015 lunar tetrad was significant for an additional reason—all 4 total lunar eclipses were visible from most of the United States. The September 28, 2015 eclipse was the last total lunar eclipse visible from mainland USA until January 31, 2018. Reports of impending doom due to the Blood Moon prophecy were clearly exaggerated, especially since 8 tetrads since 1 A.D. have coincided with Jewish holidays without the world coming to an end. In fact, prior to the last eclipse of the 2014–2015 tetrad, many religious organizations rejected the doomsday claims and reassured their followers that the world wasn't going to end anytime soon. According to NASA, the current century—2001 to 2100—will have 8 tetrads. The first tetrad of the 21st century took place in 2003, the second was in 2014–2015, and the next will be in 2032–2033. (Source: "What is a Blood Moon," TimeandDate.com. See also the NASA article on the subject.)
We should note that the details of the prophecy in Joel and Revelation do not describe a typical lunar tetrad cycle, but rather a special creation-type miracle. In addition, the modern false prophets fail to take into account the inclusion of a solar eclipse along with the lunar eclipse. This unique miracle is the sign of the imminent return of Yeshua (Matt 24:29-30).
21 "And it will be, everyone who, if he should call upon the name of ADONAI, will be saved."
[Joel 2:32] And: Grk. kai, conj. it will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 1 above. everyone: Grk. pas, adj. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 8 above. if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. Bible versions leave the conjunction untranslated, but it is important in establishing the conditional nature of the promise. he should call upon: Grk. epikaleō, aor. mid. subj. (derived from epi, 'upon' and kaleō, 'to call'), may mean (1) to give a name or nickname to; call, name; or (2) call upon for help, aid or intercession; invoke, appeal to, call upon for oneself. The second meaning applies here. The subjunctive mood, which looks toward what is conceivable or potential, adds another layer of tentativeness to the proposed scenario.
the name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of authority, qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. of ADONAI: Grk. kurios. See the previous verse. It is very possible that in quoting the Joel passage Peter intends a play on words so that the "name" of ADONAI refers to Yeshua, since he no doubt remembered that Yeshua identified himself with YHVH in all his "I AM" sayings (e.g., John 8:58) and told his disciples that they could ask for anything in his name and the Father would answer (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23).
The statement "calling on the name of ADONAI" occurs many times in Scripture (Gen 4:26; 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; 26:25; Ex 34:5; 2Sam 2:22; 1Kgs 18:24; 2Kgs 5:11; 1Chr 16:8; Ps 18:6; 99:6; 105:1; 116:4, 13, 17; 118:5; Isa 12:4; Jon 1:14; Zeph 3:9; Rom 10:13; 2Tim 2:22). The expression simply means to call upon God, but the inclusion of "name" emphasizes that prayer is directed to the God of Israel and not any other supposed deity. The practice of calling on the name of ADONAI dates back to the time of Seth and Enos, as it says in Genesis 4:26, "Then men began to call upon the name of ADONAI."
For people to seek the Creator denoted an act of trust that the Creator in fact hears when people appeal to Him. The expression no doubt signifies the beginning of regular public worship of God, as well as the practice of prayer, and summarizes the nature and scope of worship at the altars built by the patriarchs. Besides its worship connotation the expression often occurs in passages of an actual appeal for God to answer a specific petition or provide urgent help. The usage in Joel is to call on God for deliverance from judgment (cf. Ps 116:4, 13).
will be saved: Grk. sōzō, fut. pass., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue. The verb is used in reference to rescue from bodily peril (Luke 8:50) or bodily death (Luke 23:39), as well as rescue from spiritual peril, frequently of an apocalyptic type (Luke 13:23; 19:10). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important is yasha, (SH-34-67), to deliver, liberate and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, (SH-4422), to escape, deliver, or save, which is used in the Joel passage.
In apostolic usage being saved is often equated with the reception of divine mercy for sin and a present experience (Matt 1:21; John 3:17; Acts 2:40, 47; 11:14; 15:11; 16:30-31; Rom 8:24; 10:9; 1Cor 1:18, 21; 2Cor 2:15; Eph 2:5; 1Tim 1:15; Titus 3:5; 1Pet 3:21). However, being saved is also, as in the Joel passage, a future experience of being delivered from the penalties of the judgment of the Messiah, which will occur on the last day of the present age (Matt 24:13; Mark 13:13; John 5:22-34; 6:40; 12:47-48; Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5; 2Cor 5:10). Yeshua gave a graphic description of what he will do when he exercises judgment upon his return to earth, both blessings and penalties (Matt 7:21-23; 25:31-46; cf. 2Th 1:6-10; 2Tim 4:8).
The desire for salvation is one petition that God is willing, even anxious to answer (Ezek 18:23, 32; Luke 19:10; 1Tim 2:4; 2Pet 3:9). Peter could intend the verb as pertaining to (1) the present, in that the consequence immediately follows the "calling on ADONAI" (verse 41 below); or (2) the Messianic judgment when Yeshua returns. He could also have intended both meanings. For Peter being saved certainly did not mean "going to heaven when you die" as it does to many Christians (Wright 34). Stern notes that the rest of Peter's speech shows that one can call on ADONAI for salvation only by acknowledging Yeshua as the Messiah.
22 "Men, Israelites, hear these words: Yeshua the Nazarene, a man having been attested by God to you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know;
Men: pl. of Grk. anēr. voc case. See verse 5 and 14 above. The address of "men" would include the proselytes in the crowd. Israelites: pl. of Grk. Israēlitēs, voc. case, a descendant of Israel the patriarch and member of the people of Israel. Many versions render the direct address as "Men of Israel," but that is an inaccurate translation of the vocative case of the two nouns. Such an address would require the genitive case of Grk. Israēl. Calling them "Israelites" gives emphasis to their covenant identity distinguished from the proselytes. Peter also uses the name to call the crowd back to their single identity as a nation descended from Jacob in contrast to the multiple Judaisms or parties by which Jews identified themselves in the first century.
hear: Grk. akouō, aor. imp. See verse 6 above. The command from Peter enjoins the crowd not only to listen and consider what he has to say but to be prepared to obey him when he gives them instructions. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. words: pl. of Grk. logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). Little did Peter realize that his words inspired by the Holy Spirit on this day would become part of holy Scripture.
Bible scholars generally treat Peter's sermon as an example of early apostolic kerygma ("proclamation"). The content of the kerygma may be summarized as follows: (1) the announcement that the age of fulfillment has arrived; (2) a rehearsal of the ministry, death and triumph of Yeshua; (3) citation of Tanakh scriptures whose fulfillment in these events prove Yeshua to be the Messiah; and (4) a call to repentance (Bruce).
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
the Nazarene: Grk. ho Nazōraios (Heb. ha-Natzrati), "the Nazarene." Nazōraios does not occur in the LXX, nor any earlier or contemporary Jewish literature, nor any Greek literature. The noun is found only in the apostolic narratives. The title is first introduced in Matthew 2:23. See my comment there. Danker and Mounce define the noun as an inhabitant of Nazareth, the city where Yeshua spent his growing up years (Luke 2:39-40, 51). Stern concurs with this interpretation (14). However, BAG points out that Nazōraios meant something different before it was connected with Nazareth, and linguistically the transition from Nazaret to Nazōraios is difficult (534).
Gloag comments that the nominative case with the definite article indicates a title of distinction. Stern notes that in the Talmud Yeshua is referred to as Yeshu HaNotzri, "Jesus the Nazarene" (Avodah Zarah 17a; Berachot 17b; Sotah 47a) (15). Most Bible versions translate the noun here as "of/from Nazareth" even though the Greek text does not have Natzeret (SG-3478) or the preposition "from" (apo Nazaret, Matt 21:11; Mark 1:9; John 1:45) or "of" (ek Nazaret, John 1:46). Some versions do translate the noun as "the Nazarene" (CEB, DLNT, EHV, HCSB, LEB, LITV, MPNT, MRINT, MSG, NASB, NET, NLT, YLT). Most Messianic Jewish versions employ a Hebrew form of the title.
The significance of Nazōraios may be found in its probable Hebrew root, netzer (SH-5342), branch, sprout or shoot, found in Isaiah 11:1 where it is used to refer to the branch of Jesse, the father of David. Thus, "the Nazarene" is the humble shoot of Jesse who would fulfill the covenantal promise made to David and sit on his throne (Luke 1:32-33; cf. 2Sam 7:12-14; Isa 9:6). Moreover, the "kingdom of heaven," so frequently mentioned by Yeshua in Matthew, is not a kingdom in heaven, as Christians generally assume, but the kingdom that Heaven promised to David (2Sam 7:12-16).
The connection of Nazōraios with the Isaiah promise of the netzer may be seen in two passages. First, the supposed pejorative viewpoint of Nathaniel about Nazareth (John 1:46) is followed by his declaration to Yeshua, "You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49). In Jewish culture "Son of God" was a title for the Davidic king. Second, the connection is made explicit in the story of the healing of Bartimaeus:
35 As He drew near Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. 36 Hearing a crowd passing by, he inquired what this meant. 37 "Jesus the Nazarene is passing by," they told him. 38 So he called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Luke 18:35-38 HCSB)
Nicoll comments that in Peter's mind the title likely bore remembrance of its inclusion on the sign that Pilate had affixed to the cross above Yeshua's head (John 19:19). So, "the Nazarene" is "the rejected and crucified one." As the despised servant of the Lord, Yeshua fulfilled various prophecies that the Messiah would be reviled and rejected (e.g., Ps 22:11-18; 69:4, 8-9; 118:22; Isa 53:2-3, 11-12; 63:3-5). Yeshua was even rejected by the citizens of Nazareth (Luke 4:28-29). Peter is about to point out how Yeshua fulfilled prophecy and he will especially make note of the rejection of the Jewish rulers.
a man: Grk. anēr. Peter emphasizes Yeshua's complete humanity. having been attested: Grk. apodeiknumi, perf. pass. part., point away from and so focus attention on. The verb is used to mean (1) set up for public display; (2) make a pretentious display; (3) bear witness to credentials; and (4) support with evidence. The third usage applies here; endorse, attest. by: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 5 above. The preposition is used here to indicate agency, thus "by." God: Grk. theos. See verse 11 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person.
by miracles: pl. of Grk. dunamis, from dunamai, the quality or state of being capable, here as an exhibition of a singular capability, a powerful or wondrous deed or miracle. and: Grk. kai, conj. wonders: pl. of Grk. teras. See verse 19 above. and: Grk. kai. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See verse 19 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. God: Grk. theos. did: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action, which may mean (1) to produce something material or bring something into existence; or (2) to express by deeds the feelings and thoughts of the mind; act, do, perform (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity.
through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 16 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Peter echoes Yeshua's own insistence that his works were the works of the Father (John 5:19, 36; 10:25, 32, 37-38; 14:10-11). in: Grk. eis, prep. your: Grk. humeis. midst: Grk. mesos, adj., at a point near the center, midst, middle, in the midst of, among. The signs and wonders performed "in your midst" could include to the seven signs that John recorded in his narrative (2:11; 4:54; 5:8; 6:14, 19; 9:16; 12:18), but a broader meaning is likely implied. just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. See verse 4 above. you yourselves: pl. of Grk. autos. The pronoun is third person, which indicates that a thing ascribed by the verb "know" to one applies equally with others.
know: Grk. oida, perf., 2p-pl., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395). Peter implies that the people in the crowd had specific knowledge of Yeshua's miracles. Indeed, some of them would have had to agree with Nicodemus, "we know that you have come from God, a teacher; for no one can do these signs that you do, except God be with him" (John 3:2 mine).
Peter also applies the logic that the fact of Yeshua performing miraculous signs demonstrates his divine appointment and anointing. As the man Yeshua had healed of blindness said to Pharisee leaders, "If this man were not from God, he could do nothing" (John 9:33 mine). Yeshua also said, "even if you do not believe me, believe the works; so that you may know and might continue to know that the Father is in me, and I in the Father" (John 10:38 BR).
23 this one, delivered up by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you killed, having crucified by the hand of lawless men.
this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun refers back to Yeshua in the previous verse. delivered up: Grk. ekdotos, adj., delivered up, given up, handed over, surrendered. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. While the word does not occur in the LXX it is found in Josephus (Ant. VI, 13:9) and the Jewish apocryphal work Bel and the Dragon 22. by the determined: Grk. horizō, perf. mid. part., establish a boundary or framework through deliberate decision for an event, activity or thing; determine, appoint, ordain. purpose: Grk. boulē may refer to (1) the process of thinking as prelude to decision; deliberation, motive; or (2) the product of deliberation, decision, resolve, used frequently of a divine plan or purpose. The second usage fits here.
and: Grk. kai, conj. foreknowledge: Grk. prognōsis, a state of having in mind, to foreknow, used of God's omniscient wisdom and intention (BAG). The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other by Peter in his first letter where he states the same truth as here (1Pet 1:2). The term is not used in the LXX but it is found in Judith 9:6; 11:19. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 11 above. God's attribute of omniscience is a strong affirmation of Scripture (cf. Job 21:22; Ps 33:13-15; 94:9-10; 139:2-4; 147:4-5; Prov 15:3; 1Chr 28:9; Isa 40:13-14; 57:15; Matt 10:30). These passages illustrate the breadth of God's omniscience. He knows every past action of history back to creation and He knows every present action.
God also knows every future action as demonstrated by the fact that He gave predictions through the Hebrew prophets of very specific events in the distant future related to the Messiah, which came to pass. Just consider Yeshua's own predictions concerning his death and resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:31), as well as the future predictions contained in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24). God's foreknowledge of the future does not negate human choice. Knowing something will happen is not the same thing as causing it. Conversely God does cause many things to happen and to happen in the future (Acts 17:31).
you killed: Grk. anaireō, aor., lit. "to take up," and used here to mean to remove by causing death; kill, slay. This verb is also used in describing the intention of the chief priests to put Yeshua to death (Luke 22:2), whereas Matthew, Mark and John use apokteinō, to murder or end someone's life by force (Matt 26:4; Mark 14:1; John 7:1). The second person plural of the verb indicates that from Peter's point of view many in the crowd shared personal responsibility for the death of Yeshua. Some were members of the illegally convened high priest's council which had judged Yeshua worthy of death and turned him over to the Romans (Mark 14:53-64; 15:1; John 18:12-13, 24, 28).
Some had likely been part of the crowd before Pilate that called for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Yeshua. (Matt 27:20; Mark 15:11; 23:13-21). And, we may also suppose that some in the audience were those who had taunted Yeshua while he was dying, "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matt 27:41). The rest were guilty by virtue of their unwillingness to be publicly associated with Yeshua (cf. John 9:22; 12:42) and then failing to raise an objection in the face of Yeshua's illegal treatment. We see in the apostolic narratives a strange paradox, that Yeshua's death was predestined for the salvation of Israel and yet was considered unlawful killing.
Peter was clear about where the responsibility lay for Yeshua's death and his words provide no basis for the later false charge of Christianity that the Jewish people are guilty of deicide. The charge of deicide, which became the basis for institutional discrimination and persecution of Jews by Christians, persisted for centuries. Not until 1965 did the Roman Catholic Church take official action to repudiate the deicide charge. (See the declaration of Pope Paul VI.) The fact of God having planned the atoning death of Yeshua before the foundation of the world provides no excuse for the unlawful treatment of Yeshua.
As Stern observes the Jewish leaders had free will and could have chosen to act differently. Yeshua made the same contrast between God's plan and the accountability of Judas Iscariot when he said, "the Son of Man is going as has been predetermined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed" (Luke 22:22 TLV). Thus, God's sovereign control over events and man's ability to choose are both asserted in Scripture. The Mishnah says, "All is foreseen, yet free will is given" (Avot 3:15).
having crucified: Grk. prospēgnumi, aor., make fast by attaching to, to fasten to, here of nailing to a cross, a verb that offers vivid imagery of the process of crucifixion. The verb is used only here in the Besekh. The verb is not found in other Jewish writings and BAG lists only one extant Greek writing before Luke's time with the verb: 3rd cent. engineer, Philo of Byzantium (Mechanicae 74.10). The use of this verb by Peter would indicate that he had a greater facility with the Greek language than commonly assumed by Christian scholars.
by: Grk. dia, prep. the hand: Grk. cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. The noun is singular and probably meant fig. of Roman authority. of lawless men: pl. of Grk. anomos, adj., may mean (1) destitute of Torah, as Gentiles generally were (1Cor 9:1); or (2) departing from the law, a violator of the law, thus lawless or wicked (Thayer). The second usage is in view here. The noun is masculine and the culprits were men. Pontius Pilate ordered the execution of Yeshua and Roman soldiers carried out the judicial decree. The actions of the Romans were clearly lawless, because Pilate condemned a man he knew to be innocent (Matt 27:24), and the savage beating given to Yeshua by the soldiers demonstrates their cruel characters.
Peter's point is that the Jewish authorities did not have the courage of their convictions to execute Yeshua themselves, but "washed their hands" by turning Yeshua over to the Roman procurator. Longenecker in his commentary on this verse refers to the "lawless men" as "the Roman authorities in Palestine." The use of the label "Palestine," which occurs frequently in Longenecker's commentary on Acts, is both inaccurate and offensive. See my article The Land is NOT Palestine! The first century story of Acts Chapter Two occurs in Jerusalem, the city the Jews regarded as their capital, in the hill country of Judea, a historic region assigned to the tribe of Judah, and at this time part of the Roman province of Judaea.
In his comment on this verse Stern offers a perspective in order to argue against the historic charge of deicide.
"The New Testament's position is that all humanity, Jews and Gentiles, then and now, killed Yeshua. We did it by disobeying God, for which the penalty is death (Genesis 2:17). Because Yeshua loved us he died in our place. In this sense we killed him, and the blame rests on each one of us until we accept his atoning sacrificial death and God forgives us."
In my view this perspective is poorly stated and lacks biblical support. First, the apostles never make a claim that all humanity killed Yeshua, although Scripture does say that Yeshua died to save all. Second, the charge of unlawful killing is subject to presentation of evidence in court and there is no evidence to support the charge. Third, there is no way to mitigate the responsibility the apostles placed on the Jewish authorities for their unlawful trial and judgment of Yeshua (also Acts 4:14-17; 7-51-52; 1Th 2:15). Finally, we should note that Paul changed the focus from Yeshua being killed to Yeshua dying for us (Rom 5:6, 8; 14:9, 15; 1Cor 8:11; 15:3; Gal 2:21; 1Th 5:10).
24 whom God resurrected, having loosed the cords of Death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 11 above. resurrected: Grk. anistēmi, aor., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or prone position or simply standing. The verb does have an idiomatic use in describing a personal elevation in status (Mark 3:26; Acts 5:36; 6:9; 7:18, 37; Heb 7:11, 15), as well as restoration to life from death (Mark 9:10; 12:23). Both of the idiomatic meanings can be seen in Paul's statement, "There will be a root from Jesse. He will rise to rule the nations" (Rom 15:12 GW).
In the LXX anistēmi occurs in a few passages to refer to the dead coming back to life. In Job 14:12 anistēmi renders Heb. qum (SH-6965, to arise, stand up, stand), where Job questions the possibility of life after death. Then in Job 19:26 anistēmi occurs without Heb. equivalent to translate "in my flesh" where Job affirms his expectation of seeing God. The verb anistēmi also renders Heb. amad (SH-5975), "to take one's stand, to stand," in Daniel 12:13 where it is used of the last days' resurrection. In the Besekh the verb anistēmi is used 31 times (out of 108) in an idiomatic sense of restoring to life after death, mostly of Yeshua's own resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:9-10, 31; 10:34; 16:9; Luke 18:33; 24:7, 46; John 20:9; Acts 10:41; 13:33-34; 17:3, 31; 1Th 4:14), and nine times of the resurrection at the end of the present age (Mark 12:23, 25; John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:23-24; 1Th 4:16).
A few versions render the verb here with "raised again" (NASB, NEB, OJB, PNT, TLB), which is a non sequitur. "Again" means another incident that follows a previous incident. Yeshua had not risen on a previous occasion. The only ones who can "rise again" are the few Bible characters who died and were raised by a prophet or Yeshua, only later to die, again. The majority of versions translate the verb here as "raised up," implying that Yeshua was raised from Hades as declared in the patristic Apostles' Creed. A few versions simplify the translation with just "raised" (CEV, ERV, ICB, NIRV, NIV, NTE, VOICE). The GW and NOG versions may have the best descriptive translation, "God brought him from death back to life." OJB has "made to stand up live again."
Peter makes the point, which is uniformly and consistently declared in the Besekh, that God resurrected Yeshua from the dead (Acts 2:32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 37; 26:8; Rom 4:24-25; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1Cor 6:14; 15:15; 2Cor 4:14; 5:15; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1Th 1:10; 2Tim 2:8). Yeshua did not resurrect himself. The credit goes to the Father for Yeshua's resurrection. In addition, Yeshua's resurrection is inseparable from his crucifixion. He died in order to be resurrected. Paul sometimes mentions the two acts together (Rom 4:5; 6:4, 9; 8:34; 1Cor 15:4; Col 2:12).
I prefer the translation of "resurrected" because it suits the action that actually took place. Lazarus was raised. His spirit returned to his body thanks to Yeshua and the body healed of whatever infirmity caused death. But, the body of Lazarus did not put on immortality. In the case of Yeshua his spirit and body were reunited and his body totally transformed into perfect immortality. See my web article The Mystery of the Resurrection and my commentary on 1Corinthians 15.
having loosed: Grk. luō, aor. part., may mean (1) remove a hindrance; (2) do away with; (3) cause discontinuity in tradition; or (4) cause extreme harm to structures. The first meaning applies here. the cords: pl. of Grk. ōdin, pain associated with giving birth; birth or labor pains. This seems an odd choice of terms until we consider its use in the LXX. In the LXX ōdin often appears in passages describing the pangs of giving birth, but it is also used in three verses in relation to death: Psalm 18:4-5 and 116:3 for Heb. chebel (SH-2256), cord, rope, band. Many versions translate the noun as "pains," and some have "pangs," or "agony," but TPT has "cords."
of Death: Grk. ho thanatos, death, which may be used (1) of natural death; (2) of death as a penalty; (3) of the manner of death; (4) fig. of death as a personification; (4) fig. of spiritual death; and (5) fig. of eternal death (BAG). Peter likely intends thanatos as a personification of Death (cf. John 11:4; Rom 5:14, 17; 6:9; 9:22; 1Cor 15:26, 55-56). The word picture is of the body of Yeshua being held fast by cords or bindings of Death, and the Father breaking the power of Death, the last enemy, and loosening the cords for Yeshua to escape. Peter probably alludes to David's use of the idiomatic phrase in Psalm 18, also repeated in 2Sam 22:6, wherein he credits God with delivering him from death.
Translating the clause as "loosed the pains of death" is nonsensical, because it implies that Yeshua was suffering in Hades before being resurrected. Yeshua suffered his pains before dying. Indeed, many Christians believe that Yeshua was raised from Hades in the lower parts of the earth as declared in the patristic Apostles' Creed. However, Scripture does not say anywhere that Yeshua descended into Hades, which is a place of torment and punishment and the abode of demons and fallen angels. (For this unbiblical claim see my article Is the Apostles' Creed Apostolic?) In actuality, Yeshua's spirit went to heaven upon his death (Luke 23:43, 46).
because: Grk. kathoti, adv., may mean (1) insofar as, according to; or (2) inasmuch as, because. The second meaning applies here. it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. possible: Grk. dunatos may mean (1) having power, competence or ability, able, powerful; or (2) capable of being realized, possible, realizable. The second meaning applies here. for him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used in reference to Yeshua. to be held: Grk. krateō, pres. pass. inf., may mean (1) gain control of; secure, arrest, seize; or (2) have firm hold on; take hold of, hold fast, hold to. The second meaning applies here. by: Grk. hupo, prep., lit. "under." See verse 5 above. The preposition is used here in the sense of agency or cause, thus "by." it: Grk. autos. The masculine form of the pronoun could be translated as "him" and support the personification of Death. Thus, the last clause could read "it was not possible for Yeshua to be held by Death."
25 For David says with reference to him, "I foresaw YHVH before me always, because He is at the right of me so that I should not be shaken,
For: Grk. gar, conj. David: Grk. David, which transliterates the Heb. David ("dah-veed") perfectly. David is one of the most important figures in Israelite history. His name first appears in 1 Samuel 16:13 when God sent Samuel to anoint him as the next king. At that time David was only a shepherd. Yet, from that humble beginning he would eventually (after many difficulties) become the King of Israel at the age of 30 and reign 40 years (2Sam 5:4; 1Chr 3:4). David made a tremendous impact on the nation of Israel. In the military sphere he broke the power of all the pagan peoples in the land of Canaan and in the civil sphere he made Jerusalem his capital and solidified central authority.
His accomplishments in the religious sphere are especially noteworthy. He erected the Tabernacle on Mt. Zion, centralized religion in Jerusalem and established Levitical choirs. He wrote many psalms and 73 psalms are specifically ascribed to him. He was known as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sam 23:1). Especially important is that he compiled and organized psalms into what we now know as the Book of Psalms (2Chr 29:30). David was a true worshipper, a man imbued with the Holy Spirit (1Sam 13:14; 16:13; 2Sam 23:2). God chose David to be king because He "sought out for Himself a man after His own heart" (1Sam 13:14).
Then, God made a personal and everlasting covenant with him by which God promised that He would establish the throne of David forever, build a house for Himself and send forth a king from the loins of David to rule over his people Israel (2Sam 7:12-14; 23:5; Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 23:5-6; 33:21). Jeremiah left a simple eulogy: "David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (1Kgs 15:5). The last comment on David's life in the Tanakh is from Ezra who twice refers to David as a "man of God" (2Chr 8:14; Neh 12:24).
says: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 7 above. with reference to: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into," but used here in the sense of speaking with reference toward the person so named and even directing attention toward the specific passage quoted. Most versions render the preposition as "about" or "concerning." Two versions have "with reference to (DLNT, LEB). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Peter proceeds to quote from Psalm 16:8-11, a key text from the Tanakh showing that the Messiah must rise from the dead. Stern comments that it would be hard to improve on Peter's exposition of it (verses 29–36 below).
[Psalm 16:8] Peter then quotes the LXX exactly. I foresaw: Grk. prooraō, impf. mid. (from pro, "before" and horaō, "see"), properly, see before or "ahead of time," generally about the Lord's revelation that enables someone to foresee (HELPS). YHVH: Grk. kurios (for Heb. YHVH). See verse 20 above. before: Grk. enōpion, prep., from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of.' Thayer says the idiomatic expression indicates "one who has him present to their thought, who set him before their mind's eye." me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. always: Grk. dia pas, lit. "through all." Most versions render the idiom as "always," but a few have "constantly" or "continually." because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 6 above. he is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above.
at: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "from," and here denoting direction. Some versions have "on." the right: Grk. dexios, right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. In the LXX dexios renders Heb. yamin (SH-3225), "right hand," first in Genesis 13:9. Many versions have the anthropomorphic translation of "right hand." of me: Grk. egō. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. I should not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). be shaken: Grk. saleuō, aor. pass. subj. (from salos, "disturbance"), cause to waver or totter, here referring to experiencing an inner disturbance.
26 because of this my heart was made glad, and my tongue rejoiced; yet moreover also my flesh will dwell in hope.
[Psalm 16:9] because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 16 above. The preposition is used to express causality. of this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun alludes to the truth revealed in the previous verse. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. heart: Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia renders Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181). The words "my heart" is a circumlocution for "I." was made glad: Grk. euphrainō, aor. pass., make glad or happy, be glad, even celebrate. and: Grk. kai, conj. my: Grk. egō. tongue: Grk. glōssa. See verse 3 above. The noun as used here refers to the organ of the mouth. rejoiced: Grk. agalliaō, aor. mid., to be exuberantly joyful; rejoice, exult. Mounce adds 'to celebrate, to praise and to desire ardently.' David rejoiced over the vision he received in the night (Ps 16:7).
yet: Grk. eti, adv. expressing addition, yet, still. moreover: Grk. de, conj. also: Grk. kai. my: Grk. egō. flesh: Grk. sarx. See verse 17 above. The term is used here in a universal sense of signifying the material or substance of the living body (Thayer). Henry Morris offers a mistaken interpretation in regards to sarx: "this is a prophetic glimpse of His brief 'rest' in Joseph's tomb, prior to his returning incorruptible from Hell ('Hades')" (DSB). This misbelief rests on the familiar Apostles' Creed. (See my note on the Creedal line "he descended into Hades.") The biblical evidence does not support the notion of Yeshua going to Hades. Yeshua's body was put in a tomb, but his spirit went to Paradise when he died (cf. Luke 23:43, 46; John 19:30).
will dwell: Grk. kataskēnoō, fut., to take up quarters; reside, live. Mounce adds "to pitch one’s tent, to rest in a place, settle, abide." David uses the Heb. verb shakan (SH-7931), to settle down, abide, dwell, encamp. in: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," but used here in a metaphorical sense of that upon which any action rests as a basis or support (Thayer). hope: Grk. elpis may refer to (1) a state of looking forward to something that is desirable, or (2) the basis of firm expectation. The second usage applies here. In the LXX elpis translates several different words with the meaning to hope (DNTT 2:239). Here in this psalm elpis renders Heb. batach (SH-983), which has the meaning of trust and security. The term is an expression of assurance.
The Jewish concept of hope is far different than the pagan Greek, which was little more than a possible outcome of circumstances. Jews anchored their hope in the person and promises of the covenant-keeping God. In poetic fashion David interprets the vision from God as assurance of his own resurrection. As a Messianic prophecy David gives personality to the corpse of Yeshua. While his spirit waited in Paradise Yeshua rejoiced in anticipation of his bodily resurrection.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor hand over your Holy One to see Destruction.
[Psalm 16:10] For: Grk. hoti, conj. you will not: Grk. ou, adv. abandon: Grk. egkataleipō, fut., to abandon or forsake with the suggestion of being left in dire circumstances or peril. In the LXX egkataleipō translates Heb. azab (SH-5800), to abandon, forsake, leave, which is the verb used by David. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The pronoun refers to David. soul: Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond mere physical function; life (inner) self, soul. In the LXX psuchē corresponds to the Heb. nephesh (SH-53-15), that which "breathes" air (Gen 1:20).
Nephesh is in the "blood" (Lev 17:11; Deut 12:23), and along with the ability to move (Gen 1:21) comprise the three characteristics that make man or animal, into a living creature. (By biblical definition plants are not living.) Nephesh also represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion. In Hebrew thought a person is a soul-body. Thus, "soul" does not refer to a non-physical part of a human being, but rather to the whole person. Human beings live as "souls;" they do not have souls (e.g., Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; 1Pet 3:20). Thus, "my soul" is a circumlocution for "me."
to: Grk. eis, prep. Hades: Grk. Hadēs ("Hah-deis"). Originally in Greek culture Hadēs referred to the god of the underworld. In later Greek Hadēs became associated with a locale, the abode of the dead. In the LXX Hadēs occurs more than 100 times, in the majority of instances to translate Heb. Sheol, the underworld which receives all the dead (DNTT 2:206). Gilbert notes that Jewish writings in Greek adopted the Greek term (Wis 2:1; 1;6:13; 2Macc 6:23; Pss. Sol. 16:2). Josephus used the term Hades with the same meaning (Ant. VI, 14:2). In the Tanakh little is known of Sheol, except that it is a place of darkness in which joy is absent and God is not remembered (cf. Job 10:21; 17:13; 26:5; Ps 6:5; 30:9; 115:17; Prov 1:12; 27:20; Isa 5:14). Sheol may have levels as hinted with "the lowest part of Sheol" (Deut 32:22) and the use of the term "the pit," in which the most wicked and pagan nations are imprisoned (Ps 55:23; Isa 14:15; Ezek 26:20; 28:8; 32:18-32).
However, during the intertestamental period many Jews embraced the belief in the immortality of the soul and resurrection, which altered the concept of Sheol/Hades. Reward and punishment would begin after death and the souls of the righteous would enter heavenly blessedness, while the souls of the ungodly are punished in Hades (1Enoch 63:10). Josephus records that this was the position of the Pharisees and the Essenes (Wars II, 8:14). This separation is clearly presented in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22-26). Thus Hades lost its role as the resting place of all souls and became a place where the unredeemed dead await the final judgment. As a result of his visionary experience David concludes that God will not leave him in Sheol, but give him victory as described in the next verse.
The use of "Hades" here also functions as a personification. Sheol is personified in a number of passages (Job 26:6; Ps 18:5; 49:14-15; 89:48; Prov 1:12; 27:20; 30:16; Isa 5:14; 28:15,18; 38:18; Hos 13:14; Hab 2:5). In Revelation 6:8 Hades is a demonic gatekeeper of the underworld (cf. LXX Job 38:17) seen in the fourth seal trailing behind the fourth horse rider collecting all the corpses left behind by Death. The literary device may be visionary, but portrays reality (cf. Jdg 9:23), since in Revelation 20:14 Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. A metaphor can't be punished for eternity.
nor: Grk. oude, conj., negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative; neither, not even, nor. hand over: Grk. didōmi, fut., lit. "to give." See verse 19 above. your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. Holy One: Grk. hosios, adj., free of anything that impedes a relationship or contact with God; holy, devout. When the adjective is used of God it describes Him as the very personification of holiness. Hosios occurs only nine times in the Besekh (Acts 13:34, 35; 1Th 2:10; 1Tim 2:8; Titus 1:8; Heb 7:26; Rev 15:4; 16:5) and only three times is it not used to refer to God or the Messiah. For this verse hosios is used to translate Heb. chasid (SH-2623), kind, godly, pious. The "holy one" is the Messiah.
to see: Grk. horaō, aor. inf. See verse 3 above. Destruction: Grk. diaphthora, bodily dissolution upon death; corruption, decay, destruction. In the LXX diaphthora is used to translate several different Hebrew words that mean ruin, destruction or the Pit. In this verse of Psalm 16 diaphthora renders Heb. shachath (SH-7845), the pit of Sheol (also found in Job 33:28; Ps 30:9; 55:23; Isa 51:14). The promise is two-fold. First, the body of the Holy One will not undergo decay. Second, David employs a personification to declare that the Holy One, the promised heir of his body, the Messiah, will not be subjected to imprisonment by Abaddon, the angel of the abyss (Rev 9:11). The Hebrew name Abaddon means destruction.
28 You have made known to me the way of life; you will make me full of joy with your presence.'
[Psalm 16:11] You have made known: Grk. gnōrizō, aor., to share information about something; make known, inform about. to me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. the way: pl. of hodos, with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling; journey, way, trip. Then, hodos is used fig. of conduct or a manner of life (cf. 1Cor 12:31; Jas 1:8). In the LXX hodos occurs frequently and is used to render 18 Hebrew equivalents, but mostly Heb. derek (SH-1070), a way, road, or journey (Ps 1:6) (DNTT 3:937). However, in Psalm 16:11 David uses Heb. orach (SH-734), a way or path. While the Greek word is plural as in the LXX, the Hebrew word is singular.
The LXX uses the plural form not in the sense that there are multiple paths to God and salvation, but that God operates in multiple ways to bring life and instructs His people in the multiple ways that righteousness is lived (cf. Ps 25:4; 119:15; Prov 2:19-20; Isa 2:3; 26:8). of life: Grk. zōē, the state of being alive in contrast with being dead. In the LXX, including this verse, zōē renders Heb. chay (SH-2416), alive, living, with both literal and figurative uses. For David the "path of life" is a life of righteousness and enjoyment of God. As a metaphor "path of life" is the Lord's "way" of doing things according to a righteous standard (cf. John 1:23; Heb 3:10; 2Pet 2:15). Solomon says, "The path of life leads upward for the wise that he may keep away from Sheol below" (Prov 15:24 NASB). Yeshua said of himself, "I AM the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). David could be saying, "you have made known to me the Messiah."
you will make me: Grk. egō. full: Grk. plēroō, fut. See verse 2 above. In the LXX the verb renders the Hebrew noun soba (SH-7648), satiety or satisfying abundance. of joy: Grk. euphrosunē, joy, gladness, rejoicing (Mounce). HELPS defines the term as an "optimistic (glad) outlook, a rejoicing with a profound inner sense of triumph." The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Acts 14:17). In the LXX of this verse euphrosunē renders Heb. simchah (SH-8057), joy, gladness or mirth. with: Grk. meta, prep. used to mark association or accompaniment; with, amid, among. your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person.
presence: Grk. prosōpon is used to mean (1) the face, by which someone is identified; (2) the countenance or visage projected by someone; and (3) a personal presence or the act of appearing before someone. The third meaning is intended here. David's visionary experience left him with confidence that he would enjoy the presence of God in the future, even after death. As the voice of the Messiah the confident statement echoes the assurance of the Father of restored life after death. In the LXX prosōpon renders Heb. paneh/panim (SH-6440) face, faces, used literally of the front part of head. When combined with a preposition it may mean being in the sight of someone, in the presence of someone or in front of someone (DNTT 1:585). The descriptor is frequently used of the face or presence of God (Gen 16:13; 32:30; Ex 24:9-11; 33:20; Num 6:25f; Deut 4:12; Jdg 6:22-23; Ps 13:2; 104:29).
29 "Men, brothers, it is permitted to speak with freedom to you concerning the patriarch David, that both he died and was buried, and his tomb is among us to this day.
Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. case. See verse 5 above. Peter again addresses the men. There might have been women in the crowd, but the men are responsible before God for their families. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc. case, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5). it is permitted: Grk. exesti, pres. part., it is allowable, permitted, right, or possible. to speak: Grk. legō, aor. inf. See verse 7 above.
with: Grk. meta, prep. freedom: Grk. parrēsia may mean (1) of plain and direct speech; plain speech or adverbially 'plainly, openly;' (2) freeness in speech, as opposed to being under constraint to watch one's words; straightforwardness, candor, unguardedness; or (3) openness to the public, here of seeking to be in the public eye for recognition. The second meaning applies here. to: Grk. pros, prep. The preposition emphasizes face-to-face communication. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. the patriarch: Grk. patriarchēs, head or founder of a people group; patriarch. A few versions read "ancestor." David: Grk. David. See verse 25 above.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. both: Grk. kai, conj. he died: Grk. teleutaō, aor., come to an end, here fig. of death. According to Jewish tradition David died on Shavuot, as Peter's audience was undoubtedly aware (Stern 219). and was buried: Grk. thaptō, aor. pass., to bury. In Greek culture the word referred to "honoring with funeral rites," whatever the manner of disposal of the dead, whether placing the remains under ground, in an above ground tomb or burning on a pyre. In the LXX thaptō refers principally to burial in a tomb. "Inhumation" or placing corpses in caves or rock-sepulchers was universal Jewish practice during all time periods (DNTT 1:263-264).
and his: Grk. autos. tomb: Grk. mnēma, a place for depositing the remains of a deceased person held in memory; grave, tomb. The term was applied to a broad range of memorial devices and structures. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. among: Grk. en, prep. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. until: Grk. achri, adv., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here of an extension in time; until. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. The Tanakh says he was buried in the City of David, southeast of the present Western Wall (1Kgs 2:10).
The tomb of David was known in Peter's time (Josephus, Ant. VII, 15:3; XIII, 8:4; Wars I, 2:5). The tomb was probably destroyed at the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt (A.D. 135). It's present site is not known with certainty. Gilbert believes that for Peter, the death of David excluded him as the person the psalm mentions (202) and the psalm speaks of the resurrection of the Messiah. However, this Messianic psalm did not suddenly appear, but was written by David for whom the inspired words held personal meaning.
30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God swore with an oath to him to set upon his throne from the fruit of his loins,
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." being: Grk. huparchō, pres. part., to function or be in a state as determined by circumstance, here of occupying a position; be. a prophet: Grk. prophētēs. See verse 16 above. Like Joel and the rest of the literary prophets David, too, was considered a prophet among Jewish people (Ant. VI, 8:2; VII, 13:4; VIII, 4:2;). In the DSS is found the declaration that David composed all the psalms and songs he wrote "through prophecy given him by the Most High" (11Q5 27:11 TDSS 577). Yeshua also treated the Psalter as a book of prophecy (Luke 20:42; 24:44).
and: Grk. kai, conj. knowing: Grk. eidō, perf. part., derived from oida, to know. See verse 22 above. The verb denotes experiential knowledge. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 6 above. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 11 above. swore: Grk. omnuō, aor., to take an oath affirming veracity of what one says; swear. In the LXX omnuō renders Heb. shaba (SH-7650), to swear, take an oath, charge by an oath, first in Genesis 21:23. The Hebrew word for swear is derived from the feminine form of the word for "seven" (Heb. sheba) and there is evidence in ancient literature that it was not uncommon to seal an agreement by the number "seven." A relationship between the two words is suggested in the narrative of Genesis 21.
Abraham sealed an oath to Abimelech by giving seven ewe lambs as a witness (Gen 21:22-34), and Abraham named the well where he and Abimelech met "Beersheba" or "Well-of-the-seven-oath" (Gen 21:31). Thus, the literal meaning of the Hebrew word "swear" is to "seven oneself, or bind oneself by seven things" (BDB 989). with an oath: Grk. horkos, an oath. Yeshua lists two kinds of commonly used oaths, by Jerusalem and by one's head (Matt 5:35-36) and his half-brother Jacob also lists two, by heaven and by the land (Jas 5:12). In the LXX horkos corresponds to the Heb. shevuah, oath (Ex 22:10) and occasionally to alah, curse, act of cursing (Prov 29:24) (DNTT 3:739). The rabbinic elaboration of the laws pertaining to oaths is found in the Talmud Tractates Shevuoth and Nedarim.
to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to set: Grk. kathizō, aor. inf., lit. "to sit, to take one's seat," but the verb is used here in the extended sense of being put into a position of responsibility. upon: Grk. epi, prep. his: Grk. autos. throne: Grk. thronos refers to a throne or chair upon which a king sits. Ancient thrones typically had a high back-rest and arm-rests and sometimes with a foot-stool. The throne was the official place from which the king exercised his power, authority and judgment. The term is often used figuratively in Scripture of sovereignty or dominion (DNTT 2:611-615).
from: Grk. ek, prep. the fruit: Grk. karpos generally means the edible product of a plant grown for agricultural purposes, fruit or crop, but occasionally the fruit of the womb (Luke 1:42; cf. Gen 30:2; Deut 7:13; Ps 127:3; Isa 13:18), as here. of his: Grk. autos. loins: Grk. osphus, the pubic area of the body, waist, loins. Most modern versions obscure the obvious sexual reference of the Hebrew idiomatic expression with the translation "one of his descendants" (CEB, CJB, CSB, GNB, ESV, NAB, NASB, NEB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TLV). David alludes to the prophecy of Nathan repeating the words of ADONAI that He would establish the throne of David forever (2Sam 7:8-17). Samuel's narrative does not mention God swearing an oath, but His declaration, "Thus says ADONAI Ts'vaot" amounts to the same thing.
Peter, however, quotes from the declaration of another psalm:
"ADONAI has sworn to David a true promise He will not revoke: 'From the fruit of your body I will set one upon your throne— 12 if your children keep My covenant and My law that I will teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne forever.'" (Ps 132:11-12 TLV)
31 having foreseen he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah, that neither was he abandoned to Hades, nor his flesh saw Destruction.
having foreseen: Grk. prooraō, aor. See verse 25 above. he spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. See verse 4 above. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. the resurrection: Grk. ho anastasis (from ana, 'up, again' and histēmi, 'to stand') may mean either (1) rise, which may be bringing to a higher position in a physical sense or a higher status in a relational sense; or (2) a rising from the condition of death; i.e., brought back to life after death. The second meaning is intended here. Anastasis is the principal Greek word in the Besekh for resurrection, with references divided between the resurrection of Yeshua and the resurrection at the end of the age. See my article The Mystery of the Resurrection.
In the first century the subject of life after death was a matter of much discussion and debate. Pharisees and Sadducees were sharply divided over the issue of physical life after death with the Sadducees denying the possibility (Josephus, Wars II, 8:14). (See my commentary on Yeshua's rebuttal of the Sadducees, Mark 12:18-27.) Rabbinic authorities, rooted in Pharisaic theology, believed that the Scriptures pointed to resurrection (Sanhedrin 90a-b, 91b). The Pharisees went so far as to declare that anyone who says the resurrection of the dead is not intimated in the Torah has no part in the world to come (Sanhedrin 11:1).
of the Messiah: Grk. Christos (from chriō, "anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "anointed, Anointed One," and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Mashiach is used in the Tanakh for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26) and this usage defined the term among Jews in the first century.
The primary identification of Messiah is the King of the Jews, the son of David. Biblical prophecies speak of his rule over Israel from David's throne in Jerusalem. Yeshua recounted these prophecies to his disciples after his resurrection (Luke 24:44-47). Jews eagerly anticipated the coming of the Messiah to deliver them from their enemies and establish His kingdom on the earth (Luke 1:69-75). Thus, "Messiah" has special meaning as the hope of Israel, whereas the word "Christ" has an alien and even negative meaning to Jews (Stern 1-2). For a discussion of Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 6 above. neither: Grk. oute, conj. functioning as a negative particle, dismissing an activity or thing that follows the particle and often coupled formulaically with another oute, "neither…nor." was he abandoned: Grk. egkataleipō, aor. See verse 27 above. to: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." Hades: Grk. Hadēs. See verse 27 above. Peter affirms that the spirit of Yeshua was not sent to the place where the unredeemed people are kept. nor: Grk. oute. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. flesh: Grk. sarx. See verse 17 above. The noun could focus strictly on Yeshua's physical body or view Yeshua in a holistic sense as a person. saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 3 above. Many versions treat the verb as meaning "to experience."
Destruction: Grk. diaphthora. See verse 27 above. Many versions translate the noun as "decay," thus interpreting Peter's meaning as Yeshua's body while in the tomb was preserved from decomposition. While this is certainly true the personification of "Destruction" seems to apply here as well as in the previous mention. The demonic forces of the underworld held no power over Yeshua. Paul makes the statement that in his crucifixion Yeshua disarmed "rulers and authorities" and triumphed over them (Col 1:15; cf. John 12:31).
32 This Yeshua God resurrected, of which we all are witnesses.
This: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. Yeshua: See verse 22 above. "This Yeshua" may serve to distinguish Yeshua of Nazareth, since Yeshua was not an uncommon name. The emphasis also points back to the statements concerning the one who performed signs and wonders was also turned over to godless men for crucifixion. God: See verse 11 above. resurrected: Grk. anistēmi, aor. See verse 24 above. HCSB also has "resurrected." As with verse 24 above a few versions render the verb here with "raised again" (DRA, NASB, OJB), which is a non sequitur. Also, as in verse 24 the majority of versions have "raised up," but a small number have simply "raised" (CEV, GNB, ISV, NAB, NEB, NIV, NJB, NLT). GW and NOG translate the verb appropriately as "brought back to life."
of which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. witnesses: pl. of Grk. martus, one who attests the fact or truth of something, often used in a legal context of who testifies before a legal proceeding regarding first hand knowledge (cf. Matt 18:16; Acts 7:5). The nature of the witness is of course what they have seen and heard and touched (1Jn 1:1). The identification of "we all" probably refers to the entire 120+ disciples who had gathered to wait, not just the Twelve apostles.
33 Therefore having been exalted to the right of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. having been exalted: Grk. hupsoō, aor. pass. part., may mean (1) cause to move from a position to one that is higher, lift upward; or (2) cause to be higher in status, elevate, exalt. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX hupsoō occurs 150 times and stands for four different Hebrew words. In the great majority of instances hupsoō renders Heb. rum (SH-7311), to be high, exalted, to rise (DNTT 2:201). The Hebrew verb is used of something being physically raised, but primarily of someone being given a higher status or of someone exalting God through praise and worship.
Yeshua used the verb on three occasions to prophesy his future. First, he spoke of being lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent (John 3:14), and second he said to the Judean leaders "when you lift up the Son of Man" (John 8:28). Those statements prophesied the manner of his execution by crucifixion. However, the lifting up, like the serpent in the wilderness, would have a redemptive and healing effect. Second, he spoke of being "lifted up from [lit. "out of"] the earth" (John 12:32), which pointed to his ascension to and exaltation in heaven. to the right: Grk. dexios. See verse 25 above. Many versions employ the anthropomorphism of "right hand." With the Jews (as well as other nations) sitting at the right hand of the ruler was reckoned a great mark of honor and affection (cf. 1Kgs 2:19) (Gill on Matt 20:21).
The mother of Jacob ("James") and John petitioned Yeshua on their behalf for the chief positions on either side of Yeshua in the age to come (Matt 20:20-21; Mark 10:35-37). At the last supper John claimed one of the coveted positions next to Yeshua (John 13:25) and Judas Iscariot apparently took the other one (Matt 26:23; Mark 14:20; John 13:26), thereby causing dissension (Luke 22:24). of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 11 above. The "right hand" of God is the appropriate place for Yeshua because the right hand of God "spread out the heavens" (Isa 48:13). The "right hand" represents power and authority, and thus saving strength to deliver (Ps 20:6; 44:3; 60:5; 98:1; 108:6; 109:31; 118:15-16; 138:7).
This is the earliest mention of Yeshua taking a position to the right hand of God (cf. Mark 16:19) and based purely on the prophecy of David (Ps 110:1). Peter saw Yeshua ascend to heaven, but not his position in heaven as Stephen will later experience (Acts 7:55). The seating of Yeshua in heaven is an important apostolic assertion (Acts 5:31; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet 3:22). and: Grk. kai, conj. having received: Grk. lambanō, aor. part., to lay hold of by actively accepting what is offered (HELPS). the promise: Grk. epangelia, promise, especially associated with God's covenantal promises to Israel. A promise from God is a guaranteed assurance. of the Holy Spirit: See verse 4 above.
from: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote (1) a point of origin, from; or (2) a close association or proximity, with, beside, in the presence of. The first usage applies here. the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes both his activity as creator and sustainer. In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which generally occurs in the human sense, but also of God as father in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f).
In the Besekh the capitalized "Father" is a circumlocution for the God of Israel. While God gave physical life to mankind (cf. Acts 17:28), he is only Father in a spiritual and covenantal sense in relation to Israel. God's paternal relationship to Israel is affirmed many times in the Tanakh (e.g., Ex 4:22; Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6; cf. 2Cor 6:18). The Father is the one who sent Yeshua into the world (John 5:36-37) and He is the one who draws people to Yeshua (John 6:44). The promise of the outpouring of the Spirit occurs in several passages of the Tanakh (Isa 32:15; 44:3; Ezek 36:27; 39:29; Joel 2:28-28; Zech 12:10).
he has poured out: Grk. ekcheō, aor. See verse 17 above. this: Gr. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. both: Grk. kai, conj. see: Grk. blepō, pres., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) to have inward or mental sight. The second meaning has application here. and hear: Grk. akouō, pres. See verse 6 above. Peter emphasizes that the people in the crowd were eyewitnesses to an extraordinary supernatural event.
34 For David ascended not into the heavens, but he himself says, "YHVH said to my master, 'Sit at the right of me,
[Ps 110:1] For: Grk. gar, conj. David: See verse 25 above. ascended: Grk. anabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. into: Grk. eis, prep. the heavens: pl. of Grk. ouranos. See verse 2 above. Peter does not mean that David did not go to Paradise after he died, but that he did not fulfill the prophecy of the psalm. but: Grk. de, conj. he himself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. says: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 7 above. YHVH: Grk. kurios. See verse 20 above. In the LXX of Psalm 110:1 kurios substitutes for Heb. YHVH (SH-3068). The usage of "the LORD" in Christian versions does not translate YHVH. YHVH is not a title as kurios, but the personal and sacred name of the God of Israel (Ex 3:15; 2Chr 14:11; Isa 42:8). OJB employs the circumlocution "Hashem" for YHVH. The CJB and TLV have "ADONAI" as a circumlocution, which creates a misleading redundancy.
said: Grk. legō, aor. to my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. master: Grk. kurios. This time the Greek word renders Heb. Adôn (SH-113), lord, master. While the normal usage of the title is in relation to humans (Gen 18:12; 40:1), Adôn is also used to refer to God (e.g. Ex 34:23; Ps 8:1; 97:5; 114:7; Zech 4:14; 6:5), and more frequently in its derivative form Adonai (SH-136; Ps 2:4). In Psalm 110:1 Adôn refers to the Messiah (TWOT 1:13), and he is David's master. Most versions translate the title as "Lord." The NASB used small caps LORD, which is typically reserved for rendering YHVH. Most versions translate the quote from David as "The Lord said to my Lord." The twice use of the lower case "Lord" obscures the distinction between the Heb. name YHVH and the Heb. title Adôn.
Sit: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 2 above. at: Grk. ek, prep. the right: Grk. dexios. See verse above. of me: Grk. egō. Psalm 110:1 is also quoted in the apostolic narratives in the context of debate with certain Pharisees (Matt 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43). The use of the two divine names presented a conundrum since the Pharisees believed Psalm 110:1 referred to the Messiah. Yeshua challenged his adversaries with the question "How does David in the Spirit call Him [the Messiah] 'Lord,' [the quotation of Psalm 110:1 follows]? If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He [the Messiah] his son?" Paul also quotes the verse to assert that no angel was ever seated at the right of God (Heb 1:13).
Stern comments that the earliest extant rabbinic interpretations apply this verse to Abraham (Talmud: Nedarim 32b and Sanhedrin 108b). But in the Midrash on Psalms, compiled in the 11th century, we find that
"Rabbi Yudan [c. 350 A.D.] said in the name of Rabbi Hama [ben-Hina, c. 260 A.D.], 'In the time to come, when the Holy One, blessed be he, seats the King, the Messiah, at his right hand, as it is said, "ADONAI said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand,'" and seats Abraham at his left, Abraham’s face will grow pale, and he will say to God, "My son's son sits at the right, while I sit on the left!" God will then comfort him by saying to him, "Your son's son is indeed at my right, but I myself, in a manner of speaking, am at your right, since 'The Lord is at your right hand' (Psalm 110:5)." (Midrash on Psalm 18, Section 29) (quoted in Stern 225)
This passage shows that there were Talmudic period rabbis, 3rd to 5th centuries A.D. who applied Psalm 110 to the Messiah.
35 until anyhow I should make your enemies a footstool of your feet."
until: Grk. heōs, prep., a marker of limit, here of time; till, until. anyhow: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. HELPS says the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions. The particle is often not translated. I should make: Grk. tithēmi, aor. subj., may mean (1) to arrange for association with a site, place or put; or (2) arrange for creation of role or status, make or appoint. The second meaning applies here in the sense of putting underneath. The use of heōs an in combination with the subjunctive mood of the verb leaves in doubt just when the event described will occur (Thayer). your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person.
enemies: pl. of Grk. echthros, adj., someone openly hostile or inimical toward another, properly an enemy. The term implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a "personal" hatred bent on inflicting harm (HELPS). In normal usage the term may refer to opponents in military conflict or to personal enemies. In this context "your enemies" can mean the enemies of David, but in its prophetic foretelling they are the enemies of the Messiah. a footstool: Grk. hupopodion, a device for supporting one's feet when in a sitting position, footstool. As a metaphor hupopodion is taken from the practice of conquerors who placed their feet on the necks of their conquered enemies (cf. Josh 10:24).
of your: Grk. su. feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. David's prophecy indicates that there will be a considerable space of time between the Messiah assuming his place at the right hand of God and the last day of the present age when the Messiah achieves his complete victory (cf. Matt 26:64; Rom 16:20; Heb 10:11-13). Yeshua confirmed this lengthy period to his disciples (Matt 24:36-42; Acts 1:6-7). That day of the Messiah will surely come and make an end of the enemies of Israel (Isa 13:9; 42:13; Ezek 30:3; Mic 5:9; Obad 1:15; Zeph 2:3; 3:15; Zech 12:9; Matt 26:64; Rom 16:20; 2Th 1:6-11). All people and human systems will then be placed in subjection to the Messiah (1Cor 15:25, 27; Php 2:10; Heb 2:8).
36 Therefore, let all the house of Israel assuredly know that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Yeshua whom you crucified."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. let all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. The singular form assumes a corporate whole. the house: Grk. oikos. See verse 2 above. The term is used here in a corporate sense of all biological descendants. of Israel: Grk. Israēl, a transliteration of the Heb. Yisrael, which means "God prevails" (BDB 975). The name first appears in Genesis 32:28 where the heavenly being with whom Jacob struggled said, "From now on, you will no longer be called Ya'akov, but Isra'el; because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed" (CJB). The announcement, occurring before Jacob's reconciliation with his brother Esau, was prophetic because not until chapter 35 do we read that the name change was made permanent. Then God spoke to Jacob,
"Your name is Ya'akov, but you will be called Ya'akov no longer; your name will be Isra'el." Thus he named him Isra'el." God further said to him, "I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed a group of nations, will come from you; kings will be descended from you. Moreover, the land which I gave to Avraham and Yitz'chak I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you." (Gen 35:9-12 CJB)
As in verse 22 above Peter reminds his hearers that the message is for all the descendants of Jacob regardless of whether they divide themselves into groups with particular religious points of view, such as Essenes, Hellenistic Jews, Hellenized Jews, Herodians, Pharisees, Sadducees or Samaritans. Peter called the crowd back to their single identity as a nation descended from Jacob. Today Jews may call themselves, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox, but Peter's message is for all of them. assuredly: Grk. asphalōs, adv., in a manner that is certain, safely, securely, assuredly, certainly.
know: Grk. ginōskō, pres. imp., to know, including (1) to be in receipt of information; know, learn, find out; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend, perceive, notice, realize, conclude; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value; make acquaintance, recognize. The first meaning applies there. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395). that: Grk. hoti, conj. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 3 above. has made: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 22 above. The verb refers to divine action to accomplish the result described.
him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. both: Grk. kai, conj. Lord: Grk. kurios (for Heb. Adonai). See verse 20 above. Peter alludes to the prophecy of Psalm 110:1. and: Grk. kai. Messiah: Grk. Christos. (for Heb. Mashiach). See verse 31 above. Peter alludes to the Messianic prophecies of Psalm 2:2; 89:51; 132:10-11 and Daniel 9:25-26. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. Yeshua: See verse 22 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. crucified: Grk. stauroō, aor., cause to undergo physical crucifixion; crucify. In the LXX the verb occurs only in Esther 7:9 to render Heb. talah (SH-8518), to hang, used in reference to the execution of Haman. The Judean authorities did not personally crucify Yeshua, but their decision to hand over Yeshua to Pilate made them responsible. For a description of crucifixion see my note on Mark 15:13.
David Stern questions how the Two-Covenant theory can survive this climax to Peter's sermon. The Two-Covenant theory says, in effect, that Yeshua is for Gentiles and Moses is for Jews (see John 14:6). But Peter's central point is that all Jews, the whole house of Israel, should acknowledge Yeshua as Lord and Messiah because God has made him fulfill those roles in Jewish life and human history. Stern continues by saying that from the viewpoint of God and eternity the Word became a human being (John 1:1, 14; Php 2:5–11). Under the aspect of time, in Peter's experience, Yeshua had just been revealed as who he really is.
Non-Messianic Judaism objects that the apostles say Yeshua, who is only a man, became a god. But they never said such a thing, not even in Peter's sermon. Paul, a devoted Pharisee who favored death for Yeshua, after his personal revelation realized that God had, from eternity, made him who was already equal with God before the universe was created (Php 2:6–8, Col 1:15–17, Heb 1:1–3), both Lord of all humanity and the promised Messiah, king of the Jewish people.
First Fruits of the Spirit, 2:37-47
37 Now having heard they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"
Now: Grk. de, conj. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 6 above. The verb indicates not just receipt of information, but being convinced of its validity. they were pierced: Grk. katanussō, aor., to pierce or stab, here fig. of profound inward impression. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Yeshua said that conviction is a work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8; cf. 1Th 1:5). The Spirit's conviction is based on Torah standards (Jas 2:9). to the heart: Grk. kardia. See verse 26 above. Stern comments that although Peter came down harder on his Jewish audience than any Christian preacher today would dare, many in the crowd responded in a way that was pleasing to God.
and: Grk. te, conj. The conjunction directly connects the following verb with the preceding verb, indicating a direct result. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 12 above. Peter: See verse 14 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. the rest of: Grk. loipos, remaining of what's left, other, rest of. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos was used in Greek and Roman culture for a delegate, ambassador, envoy, messenger, emissary or official representative. Apostolos occurs one time in the LXX where it translates shaluach, Qal pass. part. of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "sent," in 1Kings 14:6 of Ahijah the prophet. Josephus also uses apostolos one time of a group of Jewish ambassadors sent to Rome to complain about the appointment of Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 11:1). Apostolos appears in no other early Jewish-Greek literature.
First century Judaism recognized the office of "apostle," Heb. shaliach, who acted as an agent, deputy, or messenger for someone with the full authority of the sender (BAG; Jastrow 1579). The Mishnah says, "the agent is as the one who sends him" (Ber. 5:5). The mission of the shaliach was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128). In the Besekh the term "apostle" is specifically applied to the original Twelve (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:25-26), Paul (Acts 14:14), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Jacob (the brother of Yeshua, Gal 1:19), and Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7). The apostles of Yeshua were so named because they had "seen the Lord," either during his earthly ministry or after his resurrection (John 20:25; Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:5-9; 1Jn 1:1) and were approved to speak with authority on His behalf.
The Messianic Jewish versions CJB and TLV use "emissary" instead of "apostle," because of its association with Christianity. However, the men Yeshua appointed clearly chose this Greek word to identify themselves and elevated its meaning at the same time. An apostle of the King of Israel is no minor office. In the Besekh the term "apostle" is first applied to the original Twelve (Matt 10:2). All the apostles named in Acts were Jewish. The apostles had the authority to proclaim the good news, determine orthodox doctrine, impose requirements based on application of Torah ("bind and loose," Matt 16:19; 18:18), and shepherd the congregations they founded (cf. 1Cor 14:37).
Brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc. case. See verse 29 above. Those responding recognized all the apostles as fellow Israelites, even though they were Galileans. Stern notes that they were not offended personally by the bringers of the bad news, but still considered them brothers. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 12 above. should we do: Grk. poieō, aor. subj. See verse 22 above. The question reflects personal initiative to respond to the conviction.
Then: Grk. de, conj. Peter: See verse 14 above. declared: Grk. phēmi, pres. (from phaō, "shine, bring to light"), to convey one's thinking through verbal communication, say, declare. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 12 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Peter does not respond just to those who asked the question in the previous verse but presents an entreaty to the entire multitude. Repent: Grk. metanoeō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., to have a serious change of mind and heart about a previous point of view or course of behavior, generally translated as "repent." In the LXX metanoeō almost always renders Heb. nacham (SH-5162), to be sorry, change one's mind or repent, sometimes used of God (1Sam 15:29; Jer 4:28; 18:8; Amos 7:3, 6; Jon 3:9, 10; 4:2; Zech 8:14) and other times of humans (Jer 8:6, 10; 31:19; Joel 2:13, 14).
In Greek culture metanoeō did not fully convey the intent of the biblical concept. In the Tanakh repentance is best represented by the word shuv (SH-7725), bring back to mind, to return, turn back, turn around. When used for repentance shuv means to turn away from evil in the sense of renouncing and disowning sin, and to turn toward the good or becoming obedient to God’s will as expressed in the commandments (TWOT 2:909, e.g., 1Kgs 8:33, 35, 48; 2Chr 7:14; Isa 30:15; 59:20; Ezek 18:21; Hos 6:1; Jon 3:8). Jewish translators generally used epistrephō (SG-1994) or strephō (SG-4762), to translate shuv as repentance. These Greek verbs mean to turn, turn around, turn back or be transformed (DNTT 1:354).
However, the use of metanoeō by Yeshua and the apostles is obviously meant to express the force of shuv (DNTT 1:357). In the LXX metanoeō is used one time to render Heb. shuv: "Remember this, and show yourselves men; bring again [Heb. shuv] to mind, you transgressors" (Isa 46:8 mine). God goes on to say, "I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; and My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion and my glory for Israel" (46:13). The use of metanoeō may reflect a desire to emphasize the beginning point of change with a decision of the will to receive the salvation being offered.
and be immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass. imp., means to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid. The verb baptizō is derived from baptō (immerse or plunge) and means that what is dipped takes on qualities of what it has been dipped in—such as cloth in dye or leather in tanning solution. In the LXX baptizō translates Heb. taval (SH-2881), to dip, immerse, but only in 2Kings 5:14 (re: Naaman). Baptizō also occurs in Sirach 34:25; and Judith 12:7. These three passages report incidents of self-immersion in water (DNTT 1:144). Christian versions translate the verb as "baptized" whereas Messianic Jewish versions have "immersed." Paul's representation of baptizō as burial and resurrection (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12) is a graphic illustration of the procedure.
The passive voice the verb (which denotes receiving action) does not mean that anyone personally put hands on the immersion candidates and assisted them under the water as occurs in the current Christian ritual. See the "Additional Note: Immersion" after verse 41 below. everyone: Grk. hekastos, adj., in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. of you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. on: Grk. epi, prep. Almost all versions translate the preposition as "in," even though its root meaning is "upon" (DM 106). Thayer explains its meaning here as "upon the ground of" to introduce the basis for the commanded action.
the authority: Grk. onoma. See verse 21. In Hebraistic usage onoma extends the significance of the proper name to emphasize authority. Peter's command for his hearers to repent and immerse themselves is not based on his own authority. of Yeshua: See verse 22 above. the Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 31 above. The CJB is the only version with "on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah." Stern explains his translation by saying, "The command is to absorb completely and accept totally the work, power, authority and person of Yeshua the Messiah." for: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 5 above. Here the preposition emphasizes the result of the action.
the forgiveness: Grk. aphesis, a 'letting go,' a term frequently used of canceled penal liabilities or indebtedness. Thus by extension aphesis means forgiveness (of) or release (from). In the LXX aphesis occurs about 50 times, 22 of which occur in Leviticus 25 and 27 for Heb. yobel (SH-3104), designation of the 50th year on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). In the fiftieth year all lands were to be restored to the original owners, and men were to return to their families and clans. The latter provision included giving Hebrew slaves their freedom. Next aphesis occurs five times in Deuteronomy 15:1-9 for Heb. shemittah (SH-8059), a letting drop, a remitting, used in reference to the cancellation of loans in the year of jubilee.
The law established the principle that since God shows mercy to His people on Yom Kippur by releasing them from the judgment of sin, they were expected to show the same mercy on others at the same time. The requirements of the Jubilee year are a graphic illustration of the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Only once does aphesis appear without Hebrew equivalent and that referring to the release of the scapegoat into the wilderness to complete the atonement on Yom Kippur for the people (Lev 16:26). The scapegoat figuratively carried all the transgressions of the people away from them, an acted out parable of cleansing (Lev 16:30).
of your: Grk. humeis. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to miss the mark, to fail, be mistaken. A mistake is the result of ignorance. Hamartia could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that does not conform to the dominant community ethic (DNTT 3:577). This breadth of application has unfortunately influenced Christian theology among those who espouse the "sinning every day in thought, word and deed" viewpoint.
In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated.
Indeed, the Torah recognizes that a transgression could be unintentional (Heb. shegagah, SH-7684), sin of error or inadvertence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29). Nevertheless, atonement was still required. In Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23). In the immediate context Peter may imply the particular sins that were committed in the illegal trial and execution of Yeshua.
In 1758 John Wesley and Methodist leaders recognized the biblical standard by adopting the definition of sin as "a voluntary transgression of a known law of God." However, they did acknowledge that an involuntary transgression of a divine law, known or unknown, needs the atoning blood (A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, The Heart of Wesley's Faith, Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1963; p. 40). John's mother, Susannah, on the other hand, had a subjective definition of sin:
"Take this rule, whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things, in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself." Letters of Susanna Wesley, June 8, 1725; quoted in Eliza Clarke, Susanna Wesley, W. H. Allen & Co., 1886; p. 145)
Susanna's definition of sin represents a high spiritual standard and is laudable. I'm sure she only meant to give godly counsel to her son. Yet, the disadvantage of the definition is that it makes a person's conscience the standard for sin rather than God's written commandments. It could easily lead to a legalistic pietism, such as occurred in the controversy over food in the Roman congregation (Rom 14:1-23). Asserting personal standards in lieu of Torah as the definition of sin can also create division in the community of Messiah. If someone calls a certain behavior "sin," then it is reasonable to expect the pronouncement to be backed up by Scripture. Otherwise, it is strictly personal opinion.
and you will receive: Grk. lambanō, fut. See verse 33 above. The verb implies the receipt of lavish generosity. the gift: Grk. dōrea, gift or bounty with the focus on liberality. BAG identifies dōrea as a loanword in rabbinic literature. The word occurs frequently in late Jewish literature, but in the canonical books always in the adverbial form dōrean (gift, gratis, without payment) and corresponds in meaning to the Heb. term chinnam, "for nothing without payment, or without recompense," (Gen 29:15; Ex 21:2, 11; Num 11:5, 2Sam 24:24; Jer 22:13) (DNTT 2:41). A "gift" is the opposite of wages, since it cannot be earned. of the Holy Spirit: See verse 4 above. Readers should note that the "gift of the Holy Spirit" is the Holy Spirit, not one of the many gifts found in the lists of Paul (Rom 12; 1Cor 12). The receipt of the Holy Spirit is to accomplish purification of the heart (Acts 15:8-9).
Additional Note: Pentecost as Jubilee
The use of Grk. aphesis in the Torah for the two significant words pertaining to the year of Jubilee mandated in Leviticus 25 is especially significant for the context of Pentecost, even though it was not the Jubilee year on the calendar. (The first year of Yeshua's ministry was a Sabbatical year, Santala 110). The background of the commandment is that just as God required Israel to work six days and rest the seventh day, so after they entered the land they were to sow the land for six years and let it rest from sowing the seventh year (cf. Ex 23:11). Forty years later in Moab God added the requirement to cancel debts at the end of the Sabbatical year during Sukkot (Feast of Booths, Deut 15:1; 31:10).
God commanded that at the end of the forty-ninth year on Yom Kippur a shofar would be blown to announce an additional year of liberty, freedom from toil, freedom from debt and freedom from slavery. God's purpose for the legislation is not stated, but certain assumptions can be made. Letting the land lie fallow would regenerate the soil for greater production. Canceling debts would prevent the utter ruin of debtors. The return of the land would show respect for the property rights of each tribe as God originally decreed. The release of slaves would be a memorial of God's deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage (cf. Ex 20:2; Deut 5:15). In all these things obedience would demonstrate trust in the faithfulness of God to take care of His people.
Yet, there is no mention in Scripture of the Israelites ever obeying all the requirements of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. Jeremiah reported that King Zedekiah had proclaimed a release of slaves, but after the release the owners reneged and took back the slaves (Jer 34:8). For this betrayal of trust God sent judgment on Judah. Indeed Ezra recorded that Israel's exile lasted seventy years in order for the land to have the Sabbatical years that had been neglected (2Chr 36:21; cf. Lev 26:27-28; Jer 25:11; 29:10). Israel learned from this failure and during the years of the Second Temple the Sabbatical rest for the land was observed (First Maccabees 6:49-53; Rosh Hashanah 8b). As for the Jubilee the Talmud says that as long as the Second Temple stood a trumpet made from an antelope's horn was blown on Jubilee, but there was no release of debts, fields or slaves (R.H. 9b, 26b).
The spiritual application of forgiveness as the release of a debt may be seen in the petition of the Lord's prayer: "forgive us our debts [Grk. opheilēma, that which is owed, debt] as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matt 6:12). Luke's version of the petition substitutes hamartia for opheilēma. On the day of Pentecost Peter informs his audience that they have a great debt on the divine books. They have broken the contract between God and the nation and they have not paid the obedience required under the contract. Moreover, they had broken some of the most precious commandments by the miscarriage of justice that condemned Yeshua. They owed God genuine repentance. Thus, Pentecost represents Jubilee, complete liberty from the debt and slavery of sin.
39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all those at a distance, as many as the Lord our God should call."
For: Grk. gar, conj. the promise: Grk. epangelia. See verse 33 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. and to your: Grk. humeis. children: pl. of Grk. teknon normally refers to man or woman's immediate biological offspring, but may also refer to more distant relations such as grandchildren or descendants. When used of immediate offspring a teknon is older than an infant, but younger than bar/bat mitzvah age. The term may also be used figuratively for those birthed into a spiritual family, "children of God" (John 1:12). Patristic Christianity later found justification for infant baptism in this verse as well as passages in which "households" were immersed (Acts 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8).
As Jews the apostles would never immerse an infant that could not express faith. "Household" meant extended adult family members and servants who chose to believe. The standard for immersion was the same as Pentecost: repentance first. and to all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. at: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." The preposition signifies previous motion into the place spoken of and the resulting continuance in that place. a distance: Grk. makran, adj., far off or away, remote, a distant place. The term likely alludes to the Diaspora, but perhaps even further, to the very ends of the earth.
as many as: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun denoting a spatial and temporal equation, here signifying maximum inclusion; as many as, all who. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 20 above. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. God: Grk. theos. See verse 11 above. should call: Grk. proskaleō, aor. subj., to call, invite or summon to one's self or one's presence. Some versions add "to Himself" to make the point. The call is an invitation to a relationship with the God of Israel. It is not a call to join a religion or a church. The promise is that we can know God. Yeshua informed the Samaritan woman "You worship what you do not know" (John 4:22). Yeshua told his adversaries in Jerusalem, "You have not known Him" (John 8:55). However, the followers of Yeshua do know God (cf. John 14:17; Gal 4:9; Php 3:10; 1Jn 2:3, 13; 5:20).
40 and with many other words he earnestly testified and was exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this crooked generation."
and: Grk. te, conj. See verse 9 above. The implied meaning of "both" points to the two action verbs that follow. with many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high number. Luke's description means that what he presented of Peter's sermon represents the highlights and not a transcript. It's not impossible that Luke, who was present, wrote down as much as possible of what Peter said. other: Grk. heteros, adj. See verse 4 above. words: pl. of Grk. logos. See verse 22 above. he earnestly testified: Grk. diamarturomai, aor. mid. (from dia, "thoroughly" and marturomai, "witness, testify"), an emphatic declaration establishing the importance of what is stated, giving full, clear testimony. The middle voice emphasizes witnessing done with a high level of strong personal interest motivating it (HELPS).
and: Grk. kai, conj. was exhorting: Grk. parakaleō, impf., to motivate performance; urge, exhort, encourage. The imperfect tense pictures the repeated appeal (Rienecker). In the LXX parakaleō is chiefly used for Heb. nacham (SH-5152), be moved to pity, console, comfort, have compassion, first in Gen 24:67. God provides compassion to His people (Deut 32:36; Ps 135:14; Isa 40:1; 49:13; 52:9; 61:2). In first century Judaism the "consolation of Israel" (cf. Luke 2:25, 38; 23:51; Mark 15:43) is spoken of and means the "fulfillment of the Messianic hope" (DNTT 1:569-570). The thought is expressed in 2Baruch 44:7, "For if you endure and persevere in His fear, and do not forget His law, the times shall change over you for good and you shall see the consolation of Zion." Implied in use of the verb is assurance that God would indeed have mercy in response to genuine repentance and their Messianic hope would be fulfilled.
them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. Be saved: Grk. sōzō, aor. pass. imp. See verse 21 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 5 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. crooked: Grk. skolios, adj., properly, crooked or bent because being dried out, like a piece of parched wood. The Greek word is the root of the medical term scoliosis, a lateral curvature of the spine. Skolios is used here in a fig. sense of being morally twisted, perverse, unjust, or wicked (HELPS). generation: Grk. genea means family or descent and can mean a clan, race, kind (Luke 16:8), or nation. The noun can refer to an age, a span of generations (Gen 50:53; Ex 13:18; 20:5; Matt 1:17; Luke 1:48) or mean all the people alive at a given time or the present, as here (cf. Matt 23:36).
On more than one occasion Yeshua gave a negative assessment of the contemporary generation, targeting primarily Judean leadership. They were an evil, adulterous, unbelieving, corrupt and hypocritical generation, full of the devil (Matt 11:16-17; 12:39-45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:13-36; John 8:44). Stern notes that Peter could call the present generation as perverse because "despite having seen and heard Yeshua, most had rejected him. Some had even attributed the Messiah’s works to Satan (Matt 12:27–32), which is as perverse as you can get." The impassioned plea recognizes that the perverse generation is headed for severe judgment and punishment as Yeshua had prophesied (Matt 23:35-36; Luke 21:20–24). God's judgment was carried out in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans in the first Jewish War, A.D. 70.
41 So indeed those having welcomed his word were immersed, and on that day souls were added, about three thousands.
So: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 30 above. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having welcomed: Grk. apodechomai, aor. mid. part., to receive heartily, welcome. The verb is used to mean accept something offered, receive hospitality, or receive into the mind with assent (Thayer). The verb here denotes receptiveness to Peter's message. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. word: Grk. logos. See verse 22 above. were immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass., or "immersed themselves." See verse 38 above. The location of the immersions is not given. At that time mikvehs (ritual baths) surrounded the temple and would be the easiest and quickest means of immersion. People may have also gone to the Jordan River where Yochanan conducted his immersion ministry.
and: Grk. kai, conj. on: Grk. en, prep. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 18 above. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. The noun no doubt refers to the daylight hours, and the immersions were completed before sundown. souls: pl. of Grk. psuchē. See verse 27 above. Many versions translate the noun with "people" or "persons." Of course, given the masculine character of the audience, "men" would be more accurate than "persons." The use of "souls" serves to indicate their importance to God (cf. Acts 7:14; 27:37; 1Pet 3:20), because souls are eternal. were added: Grk. prostithēmi, aor. pass., to put to or to add to, i.e., to join to or gather with. The verb indicates a mathematical conclusion. The implication of the verb is that the souls were added to the Messianic kingdom along with 120+ disciples, so that together they formed one community. This number could represent a tithe of all the pilgrims who were present for the festival on that day. This number apparently did not include members of the ruling council that condemned Yeshua, since in later chapters we see them in as adversaries against the apostles. This is the first of several references in Acts that describe the numerical growth of the community of Messiah among Jews. Some versions add "to the group," "to their number," or "to the believers." NLT has "to the church," an unfortunate addition for the context.
about: Grk. hōsei, adv. See verse 3 above. Here the adverb denotes "approximately," which could be a little more or a little less. three thousands: pl. of Grk. trischilioi (from tris, "three" and chilioi, "thousand"). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The plural form of the number alludes to the Jewish practice of numbering that was established when Moses organized the men into "thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens," according to the advice of Jethro, his father-in-law (Ex 18:21, 25). In the second year into the wilderness God directed the counting of all the sons of Israel at least 20 years old (Num 1:2-3). The number who believed was easily divided into three thousand-member groups. As with other census counts in narratives the number might denote only men (e.g., Matt 14:21; 15:38; Acts 1:15), but it probably represents a mixed group.
Additional Note: Immersion in the Apostolic Era
My translation of "immersed" and "immersion" is intended to reflect the singular practice of Jews and disciples of Yeshua in the first century. The deficiency of "baptized" and "baptism" in Christian Bible versions is that the Christian reader automatically interprets the terms according to the doctrine and practice of his/her church. In Christianity baptism is regarded as a sacrament, which historically has been defined as a sacred rite to confer grace, although in modern times many Evangelicals view the rite as signifying grace previously received. Neither Yeshua nor the apostles ever described the immersion of penitents as a "sacrament," even though it has a righteous goal (cf. Matt 3:15; Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16; Rom 6:3-5; 1Pet 3:21).
The Christian practice of baptism since the church fathers may be by sprinkling, pouring or immersion. A member of the clergy must conduct the baptismal ceremony and either pours or sprinkles water on the candidate or physically assists the candidate under the water. Also, since the second century the Christian practice of baptism pronounces the words "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" in the baptismal ritual (Didache, Chapter 7). We should note that the supposed ritual words found in Matthew 28:19 never appear thereafter in the apostolic writings. Given the global scope of the Great Commission the literal translation "into (Grk. eis) the name of" would represent entering a relationship with the triune God of Israel, submitting to His authority, and renouncing the idolatry of this world.
In Acts new believers are immersed simply "in/into the name of Yeshua," which signifies both the basis for immersion (obedience to the Great Commission), and the entry into a new life as a disciple of Yeshua (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 16; 10:48; 19:4; cf. Rom 6:3). The apostles, being Jews, followed Jewish practice, which itself was based on Torah instruction. Four important elements characterized Jewish immersion.
● Immersion was conducted in a constructed pool or natural body of water deep enough that by squatting one was fully submerged. (The later allowance of The Didache, Chap. 7, for three pourings recognized that a pool or "living water" might not always be available.)
● Immersion was self-immersion, as in the story of Naaman. No one touched the one immersing and no one needed to assist the penitent under the water for it to be valid. Typically an apostle and/or other servants of Yeshua were present as witnesses to the immersion.
● Immersion was gender-specific. That is, men were not present when women immersed and vice versa for the sake of modesty. Moreover, no Jewish man would put his hands on a woman who was not his wife.
● Immersion was not performed by individuals under bar/bat mitzvah age when a boy or girl became fully accountable to the Torah. In the apostolic narratives only those who repented, i.e. adults, immersed themselves.
These four elements are still followed in Judaism. For more information on the practice of immersion in the apostolic era see Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism.
Sivan, A.D. 30
Messianic Community Life, 2:42-47
42 Now they were steadfastly attending to the instruction of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
Luke proceeds to provide a summary description of how the newly formed community of Messiah functioned in Jerusalem.
Now: Grk. de, conj. they were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. The imperfect tense indicates a continuous activity. steadfastly attending to: Grk. proskartereō, pres. part., attend to with continuing resoluteness, used of carrying out religious obligation, persist in, tend to, persevere, be devoted. Many versions follow the verb translation with "themselves" even though there is no pronoun in the verse. the instruction: Grk. didachē, derived from the verb didaskō ("teach"), means the act of teaching with content implied. The term "teaching" does not refer simply to education in various areas of knowledge as might be obtained in a school. The term occurs 30 times in the Besekh and is often associated with a particular source, such as Yeshua (Matt 7:28; John 7:16f), the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16:12), the apostles (here; Rom 16:17) or heretical sects (Heb 13:9; Rev 2:14-15, 24).
In the LXX didachē is found only in the superscription of Psalm 60:1 to render the Piel inf. of Heb. lamad, "to exercise in, to learn" (BDB 540), an action attributed to David (DNTT 3:767). According to Klaus Wegenast the Hebrew equivalent of didachē would in fact be talmud ("study," which is derived from lamad), as found in Avot 6:2, "you find no free man but he that occupies himself with the study of Torah" (DNTT 3:769). The office of teacher (Heb. moreh; Grk. didaskalos) was central in Jewish society. Biblical instruction is grounded on the principle that God’s Word was given in order to teach man to walk in His ways (Ex 4:15; Deut 33:10; Ps 25:12). Scripture is the source of teaching (2Tim 3:16) and Spirit-inspired teaching deepens a believer's knowledge of God's truth. The way to know God's will is through interpreting and applying His words and commandments recorded in Scripture.
of the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 27 above. The plural noun implies all twelve apostles and not just Peter. The didachē of the apostles imitated and repeated what they had heard from Yeshua (cf. Acts 4:13), and thus was the exposition and application of Scripture, especially Messianic prophecies. Stern comments that the teaching of the apostles reflected the fact that they were filled with the Holy Spirit and thus empowered to have the mind of the Messiah (1Cor 2:16), to be reminded of everything Yeshua had said to them (John 14:26) and to be guided into all the truth (John 16:13). The commitment to learning from the apostles is a reminder of the authority Yeshua invested in them. They were given the authority to make rulings on the application of Torah (Matt 16:19; 18:18-19). An apostolic command is a command of Yeshua.
to fellowship: Grk. koinōnia as used here means a close association in shared interest or shared community life. Such fellowship would imply deepening friendship, and developing a common vision, goals and priorities (Stern). Some versions translate the noun as directly involving the apostles, e.g., "the apostles' teaching and fellowship" (NRSV, RSV), but this is unnecessarily restrictive. No explanation is offered of when corporate fellowship occurred. Given that most disciples were probably employed in some vocation the Sabbath would be the most natural time for gathering together and sharing "pot-blessings."
to the breaking: Grk. klasis (from klaō, to break), the act of breaking something. The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Luke 24:35). of bread: Grk. artos (for Heb. lechem, SH-3899, bread or food), which refers to a baked product made from cereal grain. Bread would be made with yeast, except for Passover. Since bread was eaten at every meal in biblical lands, it was often used as a synonym for food and the support of life in general quite apart from its literal meaning (DNTT 1:250). "Breaking bread" is a Jewish idiomatic expression for the ritual that began a meal in which the head of the household offered the blessing (Heb. b'rakhah). The b'rakhah is a sentence or paragraph of praise and thanksgiving to God for something He has provided, in this case bread: Barukh attah Adonai ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz, "Blessed are you, O LORD, who brings forth bread from the earth" (Berachot 1:4; 6:1).
Then those gathered for the meal would break off a piece of the loaf and eat it, so that the blessing of God specifically for his provision of bread to eat will not have been said in vain (Stern). The sharing of bread together in the meal or "breaking bread" denotes close fellowship. The mention of apostolic teaching in concert with the meal is also typical of Jewish practice that included Torah study with eating, as stated in the Mishnah epigram "Where there is no meal there is no [study of] Torah, and where there is no [study of] Torah there is no meal (Avot 3:17). The combination of meal and teaching was demonstrated in the encounter between Yeshua and the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24:30-32).
Most Christian interpreters (as Brown, Bruce, Calvin, Coke, Gill, Lightfoot, Longenecker, Robertson, Wesley and Weymouth) have assumed that "the breaking of bread" refers to partaking of the sacrament of communion, even if it was part of an ordinary meal. This was certainly the interpretation in the patristic era since the root verb klaō is used of breaking bread at the Last Supper of Yeshua (Luke 22:19; 1Cor 11:24). In addition, the Syriac version (3rd-7th cent.) substituted Grk. eucharist for "breaking of bread." Catholic tradition found justification for distributing bread alone to the congregation in this verse. Barnes diverges from the majority opinion by asserting that "breaking of bread" referred to an ordinary meal. N.T. Wright interprets the idiomatic expression as referring to a simple meal that took them back to the Upper Room in remembrance of their Messiah (45).
Presenting the Jewish point of view Gilbert and Stern interpret "breaking of bread" as a normal part of Jewish community life. The Jewish apostles would not have attached any sacramental meaning to their meals. Only consider that the observance of Passover, the context of the Last Supper, is a memorial of grace received in the past, not a means of receiving grace in the present. As Stern says, the idea of sharing a thin wafer of bread and drinking a symbolic amount of wine or grape juice as Christians do today would be totally alien to first century Jewish culture. Moreover, fellowship (Heb. haburah) meals were common among parties or societies of like-minded people as the Pharisees and Essenes. Textual arguments can also be made against the sacramental interpretation.
First, the verb klaō is used of Yeshua "breaking bread" in the feeding of the 5,000 (Matt 14:19), in the feeding of the 4,000 (Matt 15:36), and in the meal he shared with the disciples in Emmaus (Luke 24:30, 35). The verb is also used in describing the fellowship meal Paul shared with the congregation in Troas (Acts 20:7). Second, while the "breaking bread" might be considered a "love feast," a term preserved by Judah, the half-brother of Yeshua (Jude 1:12), the narrative here has none of the elements Paul describes in his instruction on the Lord's Supper (1Cor 11:20-34). We should consider that the origin of the Lord's Supper (Grk. kuriakon deipnon; Heb. S'udat Adonai), as distinct from the Passover festival, began with Paul's ministry.
Luke does not mention Paul's terminology anywhere in Acts. Paul's first letter to Corinth was written several years before Acts was completed in about A.D. 62. If the new disciples in Jerusalem were participating in the Lord's Supper we should expect Luke to use the Paul's terminology instead of "breaking bread." Luke's narrative of Yeshua's last supper is the one that gives Yeshua's instruction to the apostles "do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19), and that was said after he broke the bread. At the time the apostles would have understood Yeshua to mean observing Passover in the future as a Messianic meal.
However, Paul's journeys encountered Hellenistic Jews and God-fearing Gentiles who would never make the trip to Jerusalem. Being uncircumcised they would not be permitted to participate in Passover. How could they fulfill Yeshua's instruction? Thus, the idea of adding a ritual to a fellowship meal came to Paul by divine revelation (1Cor 11:23). Paul adds the instruction in relation to the cup (1Cor 11:25). In the present situation we could imagine that in the Jerusalem gatherings of disciples led by the apostles the breaking of bread would serve as an object lesson of remembrance. The apostle would recount stories of Yeshua's life, teaching and miracles.
and: Grk. kai, conj. to the prayers: pl. of Grk. proseuchē, a general word for prayer in the apostolic writings, appearing in contexts of worship, personal requests and intercession for others. In the LXX proseuchē renders Heb. tephillah (SH-8605, occurring numerous times in the Psalms) a derivative of the verb palal (DNTT 2:863). Palal (SH-6419), lit. means "to intervene or to interpose" and has a wide range of usage in the Tanakh, including to arbitrate, to judge, to intercede or to pray. The context of palal in the Tanakh is pleading before a judge. The plural form of the noun and the presence of the definite article hints at particular times of prayer and worship, such as the daily prayer services at the Temple. Prayer services were customarily held three times a day (cf. Ps 55:17; Dan 6:10), at the third hour (9:00 am), the sixth hour (noon) and the ninth hour (3:00 pm).
In the early days of the Messianic community the apostles faithfully attended Temple services (Luke 24:53; Acts 3:1). "The prayers" could also hint at the various formal prayers used in synagogue worship such as the Amidah, as well as extemporaneous prayers in which they appealed to God for a need (e.g., Acts 4:24-30; 6:6; 8:15). Greater than these regular congregational prayers the apostles and transformed followers of Yeshua no doubt engaged in intercessory prayer that their fellow Israelites and family members might accept their Messiah and be saved (cf. Matt 5:44; 9:37-38; John 15:5; Eph 6:18-19; Col 4:3; 2Th 3:1; 1Tim 2:1-4).
The early church father Hegesippus (of Jewish parentage, AD 110-180) wrote about Jacob the half-brother of Yeshua that he performed numerous healings and exorcisms and prayed extensively at the Temple. Hegesippus said that the skin of Jacob's knees became "horny like that of a camel's, by reason of his constantly bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people" (Memoirs, Book V).
43 Moreover awe was taking place in every soul, and both many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. awe: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The second meaning applies here. Many versions translate the noun with "fear," but this is not the same emotional reaction as occurs in 5:11. was taking place in: Grk. ginomai, impf. pass. See verse 2 above. The verb emphasizes a dynamic change happening in the Messianic Jewish community. every: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. soul: Grk. psuchē. See verse 27 above. Many versions render "every soul" with "everyone," but this translation obscures the powerful emotional impact being experienced.
and both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 9 above. The implied meaning of "both" points to the two significant acts of the apostles that follow. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 40 above. wonders: pl. of Grk. teras. See verse 19 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See verse 19 above. were taking place: Grk. ginomai, impf. pass. through: Grk. dia, prep. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 37 above. The combination of "signs and wonders" elevates the stature of the apostles to that of Moses and confirms their authority to speak for Yeshua.
44 And all those faithfully trusting were on the same basis, having all things in common.
And: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction is used here to continue the narrative of the previous verse. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. faithfully trusting: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. (derived from pistis, trust, faithfulness), to have confidence in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the Besekh the verb often has the sense of a personal trust in God's power and His nearness to help. In the LXX pisteuō renders Heb. aman (SH-539), to be reliable, to stand firm, trust, believe, be faithful, first used in Genesis 15:6 where it describes Abraham's response to God. In the book of Acts the participial form of pisteuō is only used of followers of Yeshua. A participle is a verbal substantive (DM 220), and as such it has an adjectival quality.
That is, the participle not only describes action but also character of the one performing the action. Many versions translate the present participle with the past tense "believed," pointing back to the day of Pentecost and obscuring the continuing character of the disciples. Only the changed character that manifested continuing trust in and faithfulness to the Messiah could account for the dramatic changes that took place in relationships between the disciples and within the community of Messiah. were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. on: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 1 above. the same basis: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 2 above. Many versions translate the phrase epi to auto with "together" on the assumption that the preposition epi denotes coming together or being assembled in the same place (Thayer).
The phrase could mean "together" if the translation is taken in the adverbial sense of unity. Relevant to this discussion is that Strong's Concordance gives a definition of epi as "on the basis of." Thus, Luke is using epi to auto to describe equality in the community of Messiah. The disciples were not "together" in a literalistic sense of 3,000+ people being in one place of lodging or meeting, but they were the same in that there were no distinctions of social or economic class, as Paul would later write,
"where there is not Hellenistic Jew and traditional Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, but all, and Messiah in all." (Col 3:11 BR)
having: Grk. echō, impf., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application: e.g., (1) hold in one's hands, wear, preserve, seize; (2) have as one's own or at hand, possess; (3) have with oneself or in one's company (BAG). all things: pl. of Grk. hapas, adj., a totality of something; all, the whole, everything, all things. in common: Grk. koinos, shared collectively, in common or shared. The description implies that individual disciples surrendered their private property rights to make their assets available for common use. Gilbert notes that communal ownership existed among the Jewish community at Qumran (1QS1.11).
45 And they were selling properties and possessions and distributing them to all, as any had need.
And: Grk. kai, conj. they were selling: Grk. pipraskō, impf., to sell or export for sale. properties: pl. of Grk. ktēma, something that is acquired for personal ownership; property or possession. The term probably refers here to real estate holdings. and: Grk. kai. possessions: pl. of Grk. huparxis, that which belongs to someone; possession, property. The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Heb 10:34) and probably refers here to personal property. Under Jewish law property was classed as either movable (i.e., money, harvested products, clothing, household furnishings, foodstuffs, cart, animals, etc.) or immovable (i.e., land, crops in the ground, or house). The two terms Luke uses probably conforms to this legal definition.
and: Grk. kai. distributing: Grk. diamerizō, impf., cause to be in parts; divide, distribute, apportion. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 1 above. as: Grk. kathoti, adv., insofar as, according to. any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone of consequence in contrast to others, or to denote a collective commonality of those in a group, as here. had: Grk. echō, impf. See the previous verse. Longenecker observes that the imperfect tense of the four verbs in this verse indicates an established practice.
need: Grk. chreia, state or experience of necessity, need. Yeshua's own teaching on giving to the needy was well known. He rebuked his Pharisaic critics for their greed (Luke 16:14-15), cruelty in regards to financial support of their parents (Matt 15:3-5) and injustice to widows (Matt 23:14). Yeshua warned against stinginess and the danger of loving money too much (Matt 6:19-24; Luke 12:15). Yeshua urged the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give them to the poor (Mark 10:21), and he gave the same counsel to his disciples (Luke 12:33).
Although giving to charity was held in high esteem by the rabbis and thought to gain great merit, there were requirements prohibiting one from giving all of his goods. "No one should give away more than the fifth of his fortune lest from independence he may lapse into a state of dependence" (Ketuboth 50a). There was no charitable organization like the Salvation Army in place to receive goods. The duty to care for the poor, especially among God's people, is as great a duty as caring for those who minister. The Sages emphasized that true piety consisted of giving to the poor and motivating others to give (Avot 5:13).
N.T. Wright observes that the generous selling and sharing was not a primitive form of communism nor representative of a belief that the world was coming to an end (97). Rather, the disciples viewed their community as a family. In addition, the disciples, being Torah-observant Jews, understood God's expectation for care of the needy:
"If there is a poor man among you—any of your brothers within any of your gates in your land that ADONAI your God is giving you—you are not to harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother. 8 Rather, you must surely open your hand to him and you must surely lend him enough for his need—whatever he is lacking. …11 For there will never cease to be poor people in the land. Therefore I am commanding you, saying, 'You must surely open your hand to your brother—to your needy and poor in your land.'" (Deut 15:7-8, 11 TLV; cf. Isa 58:7)
The compassionate charity of these disciples does not negate private property rights set forth in the Torah (Ex 20:15, 17) nor excuse people from the obligation to work for their bread (cf. 2Th 3:7-10). Some of the cohabitation and sharing goods may have come about as a result of losing family or synagogue support because of faithfulness to Yeshua (cf. Matt 10:35; John 9:22; 16:2). In this context the charity of disciples reveals their empathy for those in dire need and a readiness to provide practical help.
46 And during the day steadfastly continuing with one accord in the temple and breaking bread at home, they were sharing food with gladness and sincerity of heart,
And: Grk. te, conj. See verse 9 above. during: Grk. kata, prep. when used with the accusative case of the noun following normally denotes "according to," but used here with a time reference has the meaning of "during" (Thayer). the day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. Most versions render the prepositional phrase here to indicate succession of one after the other: "day by day," "day after day," etc. The Greek phrase kath hēmeran may have a distributive sense of "daily" (cf. Luke 9:23; 11:3; 16:19; Acts 3:2; 16:5; 17:11; 19:9), or it may refer to the course of a week as it does in other passages (Matt 26:55; Mark 14:49; Luke 19:47; 22:53). Gill favors the second option with the beginning of Chapter Three occurring on the Sabbath following Pentecost. steadfastly continuing: Grk. proskartereō, pres. part. See verse 42 above.
with one accord: Grk. homothumadon, adv., a spontaneous meeting of minds; of one mind, of one accord, unanimity. in: Grk. en, prep. the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary or temple, here referring to the entire 35-acre complex with its courts, rooms, and chambers, in contrast to naios, the holy place where priests performed their sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. See an illustration here. Stern comments that by their religious practice the disciples remained Jews. Of course, the male disciples gathered in the Court of the Israelites and the female disciples gathered in the Court of Women.
and: Grk. kai, conj. breaking: Grk. klaō, pres. part., to break, and in the LXX, other Jewish literature (Josephus and Philo) and the Besekh, the verb is only used of breaking off pieces of bread. In the LXX klaō occurs one time and renders Heb. paras (SH-6536), break in two, divide, in reference to bread (Jer 16:7). In the LXX of Isaiah 58:7 paras is translated with diathruptō ("break bread into small pieces") in reference to sharing bread with the hungry. bread: Grk. artos. See verse 42 above. The NLT reads into the text by translating "breaking bread" as "the Lord's Supper." My comment in verse 42 above rebuts this viewpoint.
at: Grk. kata, here denoting "place" or "position" (DM 107). home: Grk. oikos. See verse 2 above. The term implies a fixed residence. The construction "in the temple," the place of public worship, contrasts with "at home," the place of private fellowship. The preposition kata illustrates the difference in elevations between the two locations, thus movement from a higher to a lower plane, with special reference to the end-point (Thayer). They went from the "holy place" to the "ordinary place." Some versions translate the prepositional phrase as "from house to house" to convey a distributive sense. In the first century disciples met together in private homes (Acts 12:12; 17:4-5; 18:7; 20:20; 21:8; Rom 16:5; 1Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; and Phm 1:2) and, for large groups, in homes or halls owned by wealthy patrons (cf. Acts 19:9).
Meeting in a variety of homes implies the mobility and itinerate nature of the apostles' ministry to personally give instruction and encouragement to the whole community of disciples. A rabbinic saying from approximately a hundred years before Yeshua illustrates how disciples would view the apostles in their homes: "Let your house be a house of meeting for the sages, and allow yourself to be covered in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words with thirst" (Avot 1:4).
they were sharing: Grk. metalambanō, impf., have or get a share, partake. food: Grk. trophē, that which is needed to nourish or sustain physical life; food, victuals. As Jews the disciples would have prepared only kosher food. Contrary to common Christian belief Yeshua did not cancel Torah food regulations. (See my web article Did Yeshua Cancel Torah Food Laws?) with: Grk. en, prep. gladness: Grk. agalliasis, exuberant joy, intense joy and gladness. and: Grk. kai, conj. sincerity: Grk. aphelotēs, a condition characterized by absence of artifice; simplicity, sincerity. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. of heart: Grk. kardia. See verse 26 above. The "sincerity of heart" reflects the result of being purified by the Holy Spirit.
47 praising God and having favor with all the people; moreover the Lord was adding those being saved day by day on the same basis.
praising: Grk. aineō, pres. part., to give recognition for extraordinary performance, to praise, to extol or celebrate. The verb is used in Jewish literature of only praise of God (BAG). God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 11 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. having: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 44 above. favor: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times in the derivative form of charin of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (SH-2580), favor, first in Gen 6:8 in regards to Noah receiving the favor of God, and the others for Heb. racham (SH-7356), compassion, mercy, first in Gen 43:14 (DNTT 2:116).
with: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near, facing." See verse 12 above. The preposition implies "interface with" (HELPS). all: Grk. holos, adj. See verse 2 above. the people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the apostolic narratives people groups associated with the God of Israel. Longenecker says the term refers to Israel as the elect nation to whom the message of redemption is directed. However, here and elsewhere in Scripture laos is viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. Stern comments that the followers of Yeshua were not excluded from the Jewish community at large. The favor likely resulted from the sacrificial generosity of the disciples and thus could be considered "servant evangelism" that contributed to the result described here.
In addition, Luke's description could be likened to "friendship evangelism" in which the disciples did everything possible to strengthen relationships with friends, neighbors and family members so they could see that one did not have to abandon Torah and Jewish identity to follow Yeshua. This could be an example of Yeshua's exhortation to make friends of unbelievers so that they might eventually be saved (Luke 16:9). moreover: Grk. de, conj. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 20 above. The title appears to be used of Yeshua. was adding: Grk. prostithēmi, impf. See verse 41 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being saved: Grk. sōzō, pres. part. See verse 21 above.
day by day: Grk. kata hēmera. See the previous verse for this prepositional phrase. on: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 1 above. the same basis: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 1 above. Luke uses the same prepositional phrase, epi to auto, as he does in verse 44 above. As in that context Luke is describing something that was the same about all the disciples. Those being added to the community of Messiah were being saved on the same basis as the first group. That is, salvation was the result of repenting and being immersed.
Stern notes that because of the believers' Holy Spirit-empowered obedience to the Torah (as expounded by the apostles), God blessed the Messianic Community with growth in numbers of truly saved persons, all of them Jews. This significant and rapidly growing community of persons honoring Yeshua the Messiah and believing the good news is described not as an alien "Christian Church" but as a movement within Judaism. The first Gentiles without a prior "Jewish connection" do not join the Messianic community until chapter 10.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews (Latin Antiquitates Judaicae). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles. Rev. ed. The Westminster Press, 1976. Daily Bible Study Series.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Brown: David Brown, The Acts of the Apostles, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871), 2 vols., by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Online.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Calvin: Jean Calvin (1509-1564), Acts, Commentaries on the Bible. Online.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Coffman: James Burton Coffman (1905-2006), Commentaries on the Bible. Online.
Coke: Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation of the Greek New Testament into biblical Hebrew.)
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
DSB: The Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. [KJV with annotations by Dr. Henry M. Morris.]
Gilbert: Gary Gilbert, Annotations on "The Acts of the Apostles," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HBD: Trent C. Butler, ed., Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
ISBE: James Orr, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), Vol. 4. Hendrickson Pub., 1989.
Longenecker: Richard N. Longenecker, Acts. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp., 1989-1999.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Merrill: Selah Merrill, Galilee in the Time of Christ. Religious Tract Society, 1891. Online.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Miller: David M. Miller, The Meaning of Ioudaios and its Relationship to Other Group Labels in Ancient 'Judaism.' Currents in Biblical Research 9:98-126, September 2010. Online.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Neil: James Neil, Palestine Explored. James Nisbet & Co., 1882.
NIBD: Herbert Lockyer, ed., Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
Purkiser: W.T. Purkiser, ed. Exploring the Old Testament. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1955.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vol. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1993.
Schurer: Emil Schurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ. 4 vols. trans. Peter Christie. T&T Clark, 1885. Online.
Smith: Sir William Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible. John Murray, 1893. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Strong: James Strong (1822–1894), Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890). Online.
Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn and G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.
Wars: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Wars of the Jews (Latin De Bello Judaico). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Wesley: John Wesley (1703-1791), Acts, Explanatory Notes on the Bible. Online.
Wright: N.T. Wright, Acts for Everyone, Part One: Chapters 1-12 (The New Testament for Everyone). Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
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