Pristine Grace

Acts 13:23-39, (GILL)
23  Of this man's seed hath God, according to his promise,.... In 2Sa 7:12 raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus; even Jesus of Nazareth, whose name signifies a Saviour, who is the son of David, according to the flesh; the word "Jesus" is left out in some copies, and so it is in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions, which only read, "salvation" or "redemption"; the Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, read, "he hath brought forth unto Israel", &c. the sense is, that as God had promised that the Messiah should spring out of David's loins, so in the fulness of time he had sent him, or caused him to come by the assumption of human nature, or by taking flesh of a virgin, who was of the house and lineage of David; and who was sent, and came first to the people of Israel, though they for the most part slighted and rejected him; however, he was raised up for the mystical Israel of God, all the elect, whether Jews or Gentiles; and that to be the Saviour of them, from sin, Satan, and the law, and every enemy, with a spiritual and eternal salvation, and that both of body and soul; and a very able, willing, and suitable Saviour he is, as well as a perfect and complete one. This Saviour, Jehovah, in his infinite wisdom, found, and in his purposes appointed him to be his salvation, and in his covenant provided and settled him as such; and in the prophecies of the Old Testament spoke of him as the Saviour and Redeemer of his people; and in the fulness of time sent him, and raised him up of David's seed, according to his promise to him. The first promise of a Saviour was made to our first parents, under the character of the seed of the woman; he was next promised to Abraham, that he should be of his seed; and then to Judah, that he should be of his tribe; and after that to David, that he should be of his family; and all this has been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah, who is sometimes called David and David's son. Now it was for the sake of this, that the apostle begins with the choice of the Jewish fathers, and relates so many favours bestowed upon the people of Israel; his view was to lead on to observe this special mercy promised them, and now fulfilled, on which he intended to enlarge in his discourse, as follows.
24  When John had first preached before his coming,.... Or, "before the face of his entrance"; that is, on his public ministry; for John did not preach before the coming of Christ in the flesh, being born but half a year before him; but before he came forth and was manifest to Israel; before he entered upon his work and office, as a prophet and teacher of the people: and this points out the business of John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of Christ, and went before his face to prepare his way, who gave notice of his coming, and bore testimony to him; and whose testimony the apostle here produces, as being what the Jews could not well reject and deny, he being of so much probity and integrity, and so great a prophet, as he was accounted by all the people; and whom he prepared for the reception of the Messiah, by first preaching;

the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel: he not only administered the ordinance of baptism, but he preached the doctrine of it, opened the nature and design of it, and required repentance and fruits meet for it, in those who came to have it administered to them: for which reason it is called the baptism of repentance; and this he did publicly before all the people, when the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, came unto him; see Mr 1:4.

25  And as John fulfilled his course,.... Or race, the work of the ministry he was called to; as he was preaching and baptizing, which were the race set before him to run, and in which he ran well; he made full proof of his ministry. The life of every Christian is a race, and especially of a minister of the Gospel, and which requires strength, courage, agility, patience, and perseverance; this world is the place in which they run; and this is only the running time; in heaven they will sit down on the throne with Christ; the way in which they run, is the way of their duty, the way of God's commandments; the mark they have in view, which they keep their eye on, and to which they direct their course, is Christ; and glory is the incorruptible crown they run for, and which, when they have finished their course, will be given them by the chief shepherd and righteous judge; see 2Ti 4:7 and this is to be understood, not of the end of John's race, or ministry, but rather of the beginning of it; for it was then, he said,

whom think ye that I am? I am not he; that is the Messiah. The apostle seems to refer to Joh 1:19 when the Jews asked him who he was, and he freely declared he was not the Christ; there the question is put by them to him, here by him to them; doubtless the questions were put by both; however the sense is the same, that he was not the Messiah, but he bore testimony to him that was:

but behold there cometh one after me; meaning Jesus, who was the Messiah, and who when John spoke these words, was coming after him from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized by him, and who in a little while after that came forth in the public ministry of the word: John was to come forth first, and then Jesus after him, because he was the harbinger of the Messiah, whose coming he was to proclaim and prepare men for, and whose person he was to point out; for though he is said to be after him, he was not in any sense inferior to him: John was born into the world before Christ, as man, was born, yet he as the eternal Son of God was before John, was from the beginning, even from eternity; John entered on the office of his ministry before him, but Christ was not below him; as not in the dignity of his person, so neither in the nature and excellency of his office; and John takes care to secure the honour and glory of Christ, and to prevent any low opinion that might be entertained of him from what he had said, by adding,

whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose; suggesting hereby, that he was unworthy to be his servant, to perform the meanest part of service for him that could be thought of; so far was he from assuming any preference to him on account of his being before him, as his forerunner; see Mt 3:11.See Gill on "Mt 3:11".See Gill on "Joh 1:27".

26  Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham,.... This address is made to them in the synagogue, who were Jews by birth, and in a form very grateful and pleasing; he calls them "men", perhaps not only from the common nature of mankind in them, but because they took this name peculiarly to themselves, and denied it to the nations of the world; and which they gather from Eze 34:31 and he styles them "brethren", because they were his countrymen; and "children of the stock of Abraham", with respect to their lineage and descent, and of which they gloried:

and whosoever among you feareth God; these were the proselytes among them; See Gill on "Ac 13:16"

to you is the word of this salvation sent; meaning either the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the essential and eternal "Logos", or word of God, and whom the Syriac and Ethiopic versions here style, "the word of life", as in 1Jo 1:1 who is the author of salvation, and who was in the first place sent unto the Jews; or rather the Gospel, which gives an account of the author of spiritual and eternal salvation, of his person, and of his manner of obtaining it, and of the nature of salvation, and who the persons are to whom it belongs. The Gospel is not a proposal of terms, by complying with which men may be saved, as faith, repentance, and good works, which are not terms of salvation, but either blessings, parts or fruits of it; but it is a declaration of salvation itself, as being a thing done by Christ; it declares him to be the alone able, willing, and all sufficient Saviour, and the salvation he has wrought out to be a great one, complete, spiritual, and everlasting; and that those that believe in him shall be saved with it. It is the word preaching salvation by him, showing, that he has wrought out an everlasting righteousness for the justification of his people; hence it is sometimes called the word of righteousness; and that he has made peace and reconciliation by the blood of his cross, for which reason it is styled the word of reconciliation; and that eternal life is in him, and by him, and therefore it is called the word of life: for the salvation it publishes includes all the blessings of grace, and everlasting glory, and happiness; it is the means of applying the salvation it declares; the Spirit of God comes by it, who, whilst it is preaching, falls upon, and conveys himself into the hearts of men: regeneration is ascribed to the word of truth; faith comes by hearing; and sanctification is promoted and increased by it, as an instrument; and after men believe in it, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise; all which shows what a wonderful blessing the Gospel is: and this was now sent not to the Jews only, though to them in the first place, but to the Gentiles also; the Alexandrian copy, in the two last clauses, instead of "you", reads "us".

27  For they that dwelt at Jerusalem, and their rulers,.... The inhabitants of that city, and the great sanhedrim which sat there: because they knew him not; that is, either Jesus the Saviour, whom God had raised of the seed of David, and to whom John bore witness; and which must be understood, not of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and members of the sanhedrim; for though some were ignorant, yet there were others that knew that Jesus was the Messiah, and notwithstanding rejected him; but the apostle chooses to take no notice of these, because he would not irritate and provoke, but rather of others, that were really ignorant of Christ: or else this may be understood of the Gospel, the word of salvation, that the Jews knew not "that"; and so the Syriac version renders it; and to which agrees the Ethiopic version, which reads thus, "they knew not this word of the prophets", joining the word of salvation, and what follows, together:

nor yet the voices of the prophets: "or the writings of the prophets", as the Syriac version, and some copies read; their prophecies concerning the Messiah, particularly in Ps 22:1 which are read every sabbath day;See Gill on "Ac 13:15"

they have fulfilled them; the word, of the prophets:

in condemning him; Jesus Christ, for these prophets testified, in the places referred to, of the sufferings and death of Christ, to which he was condemned by them.

28  And though they found no cause of death in him,.... That is, no crime that deserved death; they sought for such, but could find none; they suborned false witnesses, who brought charges against him, but could not support them; wherefore Pilate, his judge, several times declared his innocence, and would have discharged him:

yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain; they were urgent and importunate with him, that he would order him to be put to death; the power of life and death being then in the hands of the Romans; the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read, "that they might slay him"; and the Arabic version, "that he might slay him"; and the Ethiopic version renders the whole quite contrary to the sense, "and they gave power to Pilate to hang him"; whereas the power of putting him to death was in Pilate, and not in them: and therefore they were pressing upon him, that he would order his execution, notwithstanding his innocence.

29  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him,.... When they had vilified and reproached him in the most opprobrious manner; buffeted and scourged him, and pierced his hands and his feet, by nailing him to the cross; when they had crucified him between two thieves, and parted his raiment and cast lots on his vesture; when they had pierced his side, and it was sufficiently evident that his life was taken from the earth; all which were written of him in the Psalms and Prophets:

they took him down from the tree; the cross, on which he was crucified: it may be rendered impersonally, "he was taken down from the tree"; for not the same persons that desired he might be slain, and fulfilled all that was written of him, took him down, but others; though they were some of the rulers, as Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, yet such as did not consent to his death:

and laid him in a sepulchre; in a new one, in which never man lay; a sepulchre which Joseph had hewed out of a rock for himself, and which was both sealed and guarded.

30  But God raised him from the dead. Though his life was taken away by man, and it was a clear case that he was certainly dead, and he was taken down from the cross as such, and buried; yet he could not be held with the cords of death, but God the Father raised him from the dead by his power. The Vulgate Latin version adds, "the third day".
31  And he was seen many days,.... Forty days, at certain times,

of them which came up with him from Galilee; which though true of several women who followed him from Galilee, and to whom he appeared after his resurrection, as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome the mother of Zebedee's children, and others; yet is chiefly to be understood of the apostles of Christ, who were Galilaeans, and came with Christ from that country to Jerusalem, when he came thither to suffer and die:

who are his witnesses unto the people; not only of his resurrection, though of that chiefly, but of all that he did and suffered in Galilee and Judea.

32  And we declare unto you glad tidings,.... The whole of the Gospel, concerning the incarnation, obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the benefits arising from thence, as peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; all which are good news and glad tidings to sensible sinners; and which are declared and published by the ministers of the Gospel, according to the commission given them, as here by Paul and Barnabas:

how that the promise which was made unto the fathers; not barely and solely that which respects the resurrection of Christ, but the mission of him, the exhibition of him in human nature, his incarnation, his work and business he was to do, namely, to obtain salvation for his people; it chiefly regards the promise of his coming into the world to do the will of God, which promise was made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, Ge 22:18.

33  God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children,.... The natural descendants of them, as Paul and Barnabas, and the Jews in the synagogue, were:

in that he hath raised up Jesus again; which may not be understood of his resurrection from the dead, since the promise made, and now fulfilled, has not a single respect to that; but of his being raised up, and sent forth into the world, to be a Saviour and Redeemer, and to sit upon the throne of David, as in Ac 2:30 of which raising of him up to regal dignity, mention is made in Ps 2:1, Ps 6:1 which is produced as a testimony of it; and the rather this seems to be the sense, since the article of the resurrection of the dead is spoken of in the next verse, as distinct from this; and other passages of Scripture are produced, as speaking of it; though admitting that Christ's resurrection from the dead is here intended, as the Alexandrian copy reads, what follows is very applicable to it, without any detriment to the doctrine of Christ's eternal generation and sonship, as will be hereafter made to appear:

as it is written in the second psalm: Beza's most ancient copy, and other very ancient copies, read, "in the first psalm"; for the first and second psalms seem to have been reckoned by the ancient Jews but one psalm, or one section; for so they say [d]

""blessed is the man", &c. and "why do the Heathen rage", &c. ayh hvrp adx, are one "parasha", or section: and they further observe [e], that "every section that was dear to David, he began it with "blessed", and ended it with "blessed"; he began with "blessed", as it is written, Ps 1:1 "blessed is the man", &c. and he ended it with "blessed", as it is written, Ps 2:12 "blessed are all they that put their "trust in him":'' though it is elsewhere said [f], "blessed is the man", &c. ( Ps 1:1) "and why do the heathen rage", &c. ( Ps 2:1) are two sections; and "to the chief musician on Muth Labben", ( Ps 9:1) and "why standest thou afar off", &c. (#Ps 10:1-18) are two sections.''

And Kimchi calls [g] this psalm, as the generality of copies here do, saying,

"this psalm is ynvh rwmzmh, "the second psalm."''

And that this psalm belongs to the Messiah, is evident from the mention made of him in Ps 2:2 from the mad counsel, and vain attempts of the kings of the earth against him, Ps 2:1. God's decree and resolution to make and declare him King of Zion, notwithstanding all their efforts upon him, Ps 2:4 from his asking and having the Gentiles, and uttermost parts of the earth for his inheritance, which is true of no other, Ps 2:8 and especially from that reverence, worship, and adoration, which are to be given to him, and that trust and confidence to be placed in him, Ps 2:10 which can by no means agree with David, nor with any mere creature whatever; and as for Ps 2:7 which is here cited, what is said in that is inapplicable even to angels, Heb 1:5 and much more to David, or any mere man. The whole psalm was, by the ancient Jews, interpreted of the Messiah, as is confessed by some of their later doctors. R. David Kimchi says [h],

"there are that interpret it of Gog and Magog, and the Messiah, he is the King Messiah; and so the Rabbins of blessed memory interpret it.''

And Jarchi confesses the same, and is somewhat more open in giving his reason for interpreting it otherwise.

"Our Rabbins (says he) expound this affair concerning the King Messiah; but according to its literal sense, and for an answer to the heretics (or Christians), it is right to explain it concerning David himself.''

he clause, "and for an answer to the heretics", is left out in later editions, but was in the more ancient ones; it being so open and barefaced, that the Jews did not choose to let it stand. Aben Ezra is in a doubt whether to interpret the psalm of David, or of the Messiah; though he thinks the former is best; and particularly this seventh verse is, by several of their ancient writers, applied to the Messiah; in one of their writings, esteemed very ancient, are these words [i];

"from thence shall come forth, in that day, the Messiah of David; and this is the mystery of, "I will declare the decree, the Lord said unto me, thou art my Son", &c.''

And this is the sense of R. Ame [k], a famous ancient doctor of theirs: upon mention of those words in Jer 31:22 "the Lord hath created a new thing", &c.

"says R. Hone, in the name of R. Ame, this is the King Messiah, as it is said, Ps 2:7 "this day have I begotten thee".''

And in like manner in the Talmud [l], it is understood of the Messiah, where are these expressions;

"the Rabbins teach, that Messiah, the son of David, who shall be revealed in haste in our days, the holy blessed God said unto him, ask anything of me, and I will give it thee, as it is said, Ps 2:7 "I will declare the decree, &c. this day have I begotten thee".''

And that this was the sense of the Jews in the times of the apostle, need not be doubted, since the apostle cites these words before a Jewish assembly, in one of their synagogues, and applies them to the Messiah, without any hesitation, or any further reasoning upon it, as being a thing generally agreed on, and out of doubt; wherefore the Jew [m] has no reason to charge the apostle with an error in citing a passage in this psalm, and applying it to Christ, since their ancient doctors have allowed, that it belongs to him, and even the very passage which the apostle produces; which passage Maimonides [n] himself applies to the Messiah. This objector would have it, that David spoke the whole psalm by the Holy Spirit concerning himself, and that he calls himself the Lord's anointed; and that being anointed by the will of the Lord, what was against his kingdom, was against the Lord himself; and that he is called the Son of God, because he attended to the worship of God; and that the begetting of him refers to the time of his unction by Samuel; and that it can by no means agree with Jesus of Nazareth, who never ruled in any place, but others ruled over him, when they condemned him to death as the meanest of the people; and who himself says, that he came not to be ministered unto, Mt 20:28 especially he thinks those words, "ask of me, and I will give the Heathen", &c. greatly militate against the application of the psalm to Jesus; for if he is God, what need has he to ask of another? But since the Jewish doctors themselves have applied this psalm to the Messiah, the apostle ought not to be blamed for making such an application; and there are many things which cannot be applied to David himself; for whatever may be said of his anointing, begetting, and sonship, the uttermost parts of the earth were never given for his possession; and much less can he be the son the kings of the earth are called upon to kiss and worship, or he be the object of trust and confidence; and though Jesus in the days of his humiliation was not ministered unto, but ministered to others, and ruled not over others, but submitted to the death of the cross; he has since been made and declared Lord of all, and his kingdom has taken place in the nations of the world, and ere long all the kingdoms of it will become his; and though he is God, it is no ways inconsistent with him, as man and Mediator, to ask anything of his Father, and especially what has been agreed between them shall be given: the words cited by the apostle are, "thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee"; in Beza's ancient copy, the verse following these words is added, "ask of me", &c. The words are to be understood of the eternal filiation of Christ, and are produced, to set forth the greatness and dignity of his person; whom God had raised and sent forth in human nature, to be the Saviour and Redeemer of his people: though should they be applied to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, it will no ways prejudice the doctrine of Christ's proper and natural sonship, as being the only begotten of the Father; since the resurrection of Christ is not the cause of his sonship, or the reason why he is called the Son of God, but a manifestation of it; Christ was the Son of God, before his resurrection from the dead; he was declared to be so by a voice from heaven, was believed on by his disciples as such, and confessed by others, both men and devils: besides, if his resurrection was the cause of his sonship, he must beget himself, which is absurd, for he was himself concerned in his resurrection from the dead; more over, his sonship would not be proper, but figurative and metaphorical, whereas he is God's own, or proper son; besides, on this account he could not be called God's only begotten Son, because there are others that have been, and millions that will be raised from the dead besides him: but the reason why these words are applied to the resurrection of Christ, allowing them to be so, is not because he was then begotten as the Son of God, but because he was then manifested to be the eternally begotten Son of God; things are said to be, when they are only manifested to be; so Christ is said to be that day begotten, because he was "declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead", Ro 1:4 Hence these words are applicable to any time or thing wherein Christ is manifested to be the only begotten Son of God, and accordingly are applied to different times and things; see Heb 1:3.

[d] T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 9. 2. [e] Ib. fol. 10. 1. [f] Piske Tosephot in T. Bab. Megilla, art. 34. [g] In Psal. ii. 1. [h] In Psal. ii. 12. Vid. T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. [i] Zohar in Numb. fol. 82. 2. [k] In Abarbinel. Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 37. 2. [l] T. Bab. Succa, fol. 52. 1. [m] R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 68. p. 454, &c. [n] In Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 11. sect. 1.

34  And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead,.... This, as it is differently expressed from the raising him up, spoken of in the preceding verse, so seems to be a distinct article from it, and is supported by other passages of Scripture: the apostle having shown that God had fulfilled his promise to the fathers, concerning the raising up, or sending the Messiah into the world, who is no other than the eternal Son of God, proceeds to prove his resurrection from the dead, as man, which was in such sort, as

now no more to return to corruption; so as not to die any more, and be laid in the grave, and there corrupted; as was the case of those who were raised from the dead by the prophets, under the Old Testament, or by Christ himself, before his death and resurrection; for these were raised to a mortal life, and died again, and were buried, and saw corruption; but Christ was raised up from the dead, never to die more, but to live forever, having in his hands the keys of hell and death, and being the triumphant conqueror over death and the grave; in proof of which some passages are produced out of the Old Testament, as follow: "he said on this wise"; that is, God said so, or after this manner, Isa 55:3 "I will give you the sure mercies of David"; that is, of the Messiah; by which are meant the blessings of the sure and well ordered covenant of grace, which the Messiah by his sufferings and death was to ratify and secure for all his people: now had he only died, and not been raised from the dead, these blessings had not been ratified and made sure unto them; therefore, when God promises his people, that he will give them the sure mercies of David, or the Messiah, he promises that the Messiah shall not only die to procure mercies and blessings for them, but that he shall rise again from the dead, to make them sure unto them; so that these words are pertinently produced in proof of Christ's resurrection. David is a name frequently given to the Messiah, as in Jer 30:9 David being an eminent type of Christ, and the Messiah being a son of his; and who must be meant here; and which is owned by several Jewish commentators [o] of the best note; and which appears from his being called a witness to the people, a leader and a commander of them, in the next verse: the blessings of the covenant are fitly called "mercies", because they spring from the grace and mercy of God, and wonderfully display it, and are in mercy to his people; and these are the mercies of David, or of Christ, because the covenant being made with him, these blessings were put into his hands for them, and come through his blood to them; and hence they are said to be "sure" ones; they are in safe hands; Christ, who is intrusted with them, faithfully distributes them: but then, as by his death he has made way for the communication of them, consistent with the justice of God; so he must rise again, and live for ever, to distribute them, or see that there is an application of them made to the persons for whom they are designed: besides, it is one of the sure mercies promised to David, to the Messiah himself, that though he died, and was laid in the grave, he should not continue there, but rise again, as the next testimony most clearly shows.

[o] Aben Ezra & Kimchi in Isa. lv. 3. Abarbinel. Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 26. 1.

35  Wherefore he saith also in another psalm,.... Ps 16:10 or "in another place", as the Syriac version supplies; or "in another section", as the Arabic version; or "elsewhere", as Beza's most ancient copy, the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, read:

thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption; which cannot be understood of David: the term "Holy One", is not so applicable to him, who was a man subject to infirmities; at least not in such sense as to Christ, who was holy in his nature, and without sin in his life and conversation; besides, David was laid in his grave, and saw corruption, as the apostle afterwards proves: the former part of this passage is not cited, "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell"; which was not absolutely necessary to be mentioned, it being clearly implied in what is produced; for if he should not be suffered to see corruption, then he could not be left in the grave: moreover, the apostle cites that which he intended to reason upon, as he afterwards does, and by it makes it manifestly appear that the words do not belong to David, but the Messiah, and are a clear and pertinent proof of his resurrection from the dead. The Jew [p] objects to the apostle's version of these words, rendering txv, by "corruption", whereas he says it signifies a "pit"; but it ought to be observed, that the word in its first proper, and literal sense, signifies "corruption"; and a pit or grave is only called by this name, because dead bodies, or carcasses, are therein corrupted; and instances may be given, wherein the word cannot be understood in another sense than in that of corruption, as in Le 22:25.See Gill on "Ac 2:27".

[p] R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 69. p. 456.

36  Ver. 36 For David, after he had served his own generation,.... Or the men of that age and generation in which he lived, the subjects of his kingdom; by governing them with wholesome laws, protecting them in their rights and properties, defending them against their enemies, and regulating and promoting the worship of God among them:

by the will of God; this clause may be read in connection with the preceding words, as it is in the Syriac version thus, "after he had in his own age served the will of God"; acted according to it, fulfilled it, and did what the Lord declared to him, or he knew to be the will of God; or with the following words, as in the Vulgate Latin version, "by the will of God fell on sleep", or died; and then the sense is, that after he had done the work of his generation, which was appointed and cut out for him, he died by the decree and counsel of God, which has set bounds to man's life, and has fixed the time of his death; no man dies before, or lives longer than the time it is the will of God he should. David lived according to the will of God's command, and he died by the will of his decree. Death is expressed by falling asleep; a way of speaking very common with the eastern nations, and which represents it in an easy and familiar manner: it is not an annihilation of men; the dead are only fallen asleep, and will wake again in the resurrection; till which time the grave is their restingplace, and out of which the saints will rise fresh and cheerful; and yet, as a time of sleep is a time of inactivity, so no work is done in the grave; and therefore whatever we find to do, should be done in life. It is a long sleep; David has been many hundred years, even thousands, in it; and there will be no awaking out of it till Christ comes again: but this is to be understood of the body only, which only is capable of sleeping the sleep of death, and not of the soul, which dies not with the body, nor continues with it in the grave in a state of insensibility and inactivity, but immediately returns to God; and being happy, is employed in the vision of God, and Christ, in the fellowship of saints and angels, and in the work of praise and thanksgiving: thus, though David is fallen asleep in his body, he is present in spirit with the Lord; and that sweet psalmist of Israel is singing the songs of God in a much better manner than when here on earth. Blessed are they that sleep in Jesus, for they not only sleep quietly and safely, but shall surely rise again, for God will bring them with him; Christ is the first fruits of them, and they shall awake in his likeness. It is further said of David, "and was laid unto his fathers", or was buried; his sepulchre is said to be in Mount Zion [q], where the kings of the house of David were buried; and his sepulchre Peter says in Ac 2:29 remained till his time.

And saw corruption; his body putrefied in the grave, became the repast of worms, and was reduced to rottenness and dust; and therefore the words could not be spoken of him cited from Ps 16:10.

[q] Cippi Hebr. p. 24.

37  But he whom God raised again,.... The Vulgate Latin version adds, "from the dead"; meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead by God the Father: and

saw no corruption; he did not lie so long in the grave as to corrupt and putrefy, but was raised from the dead the third day; wherefore the passage, before cited, is very applicable to him, and is a clear proof that the Messiah was to rise from the dead, as Jesus did.

38  Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren,.... The apostle having discoursed concerning the incarnation of Christ, his death and resurrection, proceeds to take notice of some particular benefits and blessings of grace arising from thence, which are published and made known to the sons of men in the everlasting Gospel, as were now to the Jews by Paul and Barnabas; such as forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ, and justification by his righteousness; the former of them is mentioned in this verse, the latter in the next:

that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; forgiveness of sins, which is sometimes expressed by a non-imputation of them, a non-remembrance of them, a covering and putting them away, and a blotting them out, is an act of free grace and mercy, and yet is through the blood of Christ; through that believers have it; Christ is exalted as a Prince and a Saviour to give it, having by his blood procured it; and this is a principal doctrine of the Gospel, which is published in his name, and which the light of nature and law of Moses know nothing of, and cannot ascertain; the prophets bear testimony to this truth, that everyone that believes in Christ shall receive the remission of sins, of all his sins. That there is a God is known by the light of nature, and that sin is an offence unto him; but by it is not known in what way offended Deity is appeased; nor does it, nor can it assure any that God will forgive sin on any account whatever; not on account of mercy in him, nor on account of good works, or of repentance in them; God, as the God of nature, does not forgive sin, but as the God of grace: and though the law of Moses declares what is good, and gives knowledge of evil, yet admits not of repentance as a satisfaction for sin committed; nor does it represent God as merciful, but as just, and so accuses, condemns, and kills: the doctrine of forgiveness is a pure doctrine of the Gospel; and when it is preached aright, it is preached through Christ, not through the works of the law, not through repentance, nor through faith, nor through the absolute mercy of God, but through Christ, through the blood of Christ, which was shed to obtain it in a way consistent with the justice of God; and through his hands it is given. When Christ is called a "man", it must not be thought that he is a mere man; he is God as well as man; had he been a mere man, forgiveness of sin could not have been by his blood, or through his name, or for his sake; it is because he is God, truly and properly God, that there is a virtue in his blood to take away sin, and cleanse from it; see 1Jo 1:7 Besides, the word "man" is not in the original text, it is only "through this is preached to you"; that is, through this glorious and divine person, who, though he died as man, and was buried, yet saw no corruption, and is now raised from the dead, and is at the right hand of God. Some copies read dia touto, because of this, or for this reason; seeing he is raised from the dead, therefore the doctrine of the remission of sins is preached; for if he had died, and had not risen again, there could have been no pardon by his blood, nor justification by his righteousness; see Ro 4:25.

39  And by him all that believe are justified from all things,.... Christ, as God, is not only the justifier of his people, who pronounces them righteous in the sight of God; but his righteousness imputed to them is the matter of their justification, or that by which they are justified; and not the works of the law, or obedience to the Gospel, or internal holiness, either in whole or in part, or the grace of faith, but the object of it, Christ, and his righteousness: and justification by this is complete and perfect; it is from all sin, original and actual, secret and open, greater or lesser sins; sins of presumption and ignorance, of omission or commission; from all things the law can charge with, as breaches of it; from all things which the justice of God can demand satisfaction for; and from all things that Satan, or a man's own conscience, can justly accuse him of. And those that believe in Christ with the heart unto righteousness, are openly and manifestly justified in their own consciences, and can claim their interest in it, and have the comfort of it, as well as they were before secretly justified in the mind of God, and in their head and representative Jesus Christ. And from all sin these are justified of God, as Beza's ancient copy reads, "for it is God that justifies", Ro 8:33 against whom men have sinned, and whose law they have violated, and whose justice they have affronted, by reason of which they are liable to condemnation; but God justifies them, by imputing the righteousness of his Son to them, in which he views them as without fault, unblamable and irreprovable; and though all men are not justified, yet many are; even all the seed of Israel, all the elect of God, everyone that believes in Christ, as all do who are ordained to eternal life; Christ's righteousness is imputed and applied to all these, and therefore they shall never enter into condemnation, but shall be acquitted and discharged from all things,

from which, it is added,

ye could not be justified by the law of Moses; that is, by the works of the law, or by obedience to it, because such obedience is imperfect; and therefore the law cannot justify, discharge, and acquit upon it, but instead thereof, must curse and condemn; as it does everyone, that does not do all things commanded in the law, and in the manner that requires; besides, if righteousness was hereby, the grace of God in justification would be frustrated, the death of Christ would be rendered null and void, and boasting would not be excluded; all which are contrary to the scheme of the Gospel. It may be observed, that pardon of sin and justification are two distinct blessings, or the apostle must be guilty of a great tautology; since having spoken of forgiveness of sin in the preceding verse, he speaks of justification in this, as another blessing enjoyed by and through Christ, and published in the Gospel, styled therefore the word and ministration of righteousness. And indeed they are distinct; in pardon the man is considered as a sinner, in justification as a righteous man; pardon takes away his sin, justification gives him a righteousness; pardon frees from punishment, but justification besides that gives him a title to eternal life; to pardon, the blood of Christ is sufficient; but to justification are required the holiness of Christ's nature, the perfect obedience of his life, as well as his suffering of death; moreover, justification passed on Christ as the head and representative of his people, but not pardon; he may be said to be justified, but not pardoned: these two blessings make a considerable figure in the ministry of the word.

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