Acts 1Verse 31. These are written. Those recorded in this gospel. That ye might believe, &c. This is a clue to the design which John had in view in writing this gospel. The whole scope or end of the book is to accomplish two objects: 1st. To prove that Jesus was the Messiah; and, 2nd. That they who looked at the proof might be convinced and have eternal life. This design is kept in view throughout the book. The miracles, facts, arguments, instructions, and conversations of our Lord all tend to this. This point had not been kept in view so directly by either of the other evangelists, and it was reserved for the last of the apostles to collect those arguments, and make out a connected demonstration that Jesus was the Messiah. If this design of John is kept steadily in view, it will throw much light on the book, and the argument is unanswerable, framed after the strictest rules of reasoning, infinitely beyond the skill of man, and having throughout the clearest evidence of demonstration. (i) "But these are written" Lk 1:4 Introduction to THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES There is no evidence that the title, "The Acts of The Apostles," affixed to this book, was given by Divine authority, or by the writer himself. It is a title, however, which, with a little variation, has been given to it by the Christian church at all times. The term "Acts" is not used, as it is sometimes with us, to denote decrees or laws, but it denotes the doings of the apostles. It is a record of what the apostles did in founding and establishing the Christian church. It is worthy of remark, however, that it contains a record of the doings of Peter and Paul. Peter was commissioned to open the doors of the Christian church to both Jews and Gentiles, Mt 16:18,19; and Paul was chosen to bear the gospel especially to the pagan world. As these two apostles were the most prominent and distinguished in founding and organizing the Christian church, it was deemed proper that a special and permanent record should be made of their labours. At the same time, occasional notices are given of the other apostles; but of their labours elsewhere than in Judea, and of their death, except that of James, Acts 12:2, the sacred writers have given no information. All antiquity is unanimous in ascribing this book to Luke as its author. It is repeatedly mentioned and quoted by the early Christian writers, and without a dissenting voice is mentioned as the work of Luke. The same thing is clear from the book itself. It professes to have been written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke, Acts 1:1; was addressed to the same person, (comp. Acts 1:1 with Lk 1:3; and bears manifest marks of being from the same pen. It is designed evidently as a continuation of his Gospel, as in this book he has taken up the history at the very time where he left it in the Gospel, Acts 1:1,2. Where, or at what time, this book was written is not certainly known. As the history, however, is continued to the second year of the residence of Paul at Rome, Acts 28:30, it was evidently written about as late as the year 62; and as it makes not mention of the further dealings with Paul, or of any other event of history, it seems clear that it was not written much after that time. It has been common, therefore, to fix the date of the book at about A. D. 63. it is also probable that it was written at Rome. In Acts 28:16, Luke mentions his arrival at Rome with Paul. As he does not mention his departure from this city, it is to be presumed that it was written there. Some have supposed that it was written at Alexandria in Egypt, but of that there is no sufficient evidence. The canonical authority of this book rests on the same foundation as that of the Gospel by the same author. Its authenticity has not been called in question at any time in the church. This book has commonly been regarded as a history of the Christian church, and of course the first ecclesiastical history that was written. But it cannot have been designed as a general history of the church. Many important transactions have been omitted. It gives no account of the church at Jerusalem after the conversion of Paul; it omits his journey into Arabia, Gal 1:17; gives no account of the propagation of the gospel in Egypt, or in Babylon, 1Pet 5:13; of the foundation of the church at Rome; of many of Paul's voyages and shipwrecks, 2Cor 11:25; and omits to record the labours of most of the apostles, and confines the narrative chiefly to the transactions of Peter and Paul. The design and importance of this history may be learned from the following particulars: 1. It contains a record of the promised descent and operations of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus promised that, after he had departed to heaven, he would send the Holy Ghost to carry forward the great work of redemption, Jn 14:16,17, 15:26, 16:7-14. The apostles were directed to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high, Lk 24:49. the four Gospels contained a record of the life, instruction, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. But it is clear that he contemplated that the most signal triumphs of the gospel should take place after his ascension to heaven, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The descent of the Spirit, and his influence on the souls of men, was a most important part of the work of redemption. Without an authentic, and inspired record of that, the account of the operations of God the Father, Son, and Spirit, in the work of redemption, would not have been complete. The purposes of the Father in regard to that plan were made known clearly in the Old Testament; the record of what the Son did in accomplishing it, was contained in the Gospels; and some book was needful that should contain a record of the doings of the Holy Spirit. As the Gospels, therefore, may be regarded as a record of the work of Christ to save men, so may the Acts of the Apostles be considered the record of the doings of the Holy Spirit in the same great work. Without that, the way in which the Spirit operates to renew and save would have been very imperfectly known. 2. This book is an inspired account of the character of true revivals of religion. It records the first revivals that occurred in the Christian church. The scene on the day of Pentecost was one of the most remarkable displays of Divine power and mercy that the world has ever known. It was the commencement of a series of stupendous movements in the world to recover men. It was the true mode of a revival of religion, and a perpetual demonstration that such scenes as have characterized our own age and nation especially, are strictly in accordance with the Spirit of the New Testament. The entire book of the Acts of the Apostles records the effect of the gospel when it comes fairly in contact with the minds of men. The gospel was addressed to every class. It met the Jew and the Gentile, the bond and the free, the learned and the ignorant, the rich and the poor; and showed its power everywhere in subduing the mind to itself. It was proper that some record should be preserved of the displays of that power; and that record we have in this book. And it was especially proper that there should be given, by an inspired man, an account of the descent of the Holy Spirit, a record of a true revival of religion. It was certain that the gospel would produce excitement. The human mind, as all experience shows, is prone to enthusiasm and fanaticism; and men might be disposed to pervert the gospel to scenes of wildfire, disorder, and tumult. That the gospel would produce excitement, was well known to its Author. It was well, therefore, that there should be some record to which the church might always appeal as an infallible account of the proper effects of the gospel; some inspired standard to which might be brought all excitements on the subject of religion. If they are in accordance with the first triumphs of the gospel, they are genuine; if not, they are false. 3. It may be further remarked, that this book shows that revivals religion are to be expected in the church. If they existed in the best and purest days of Christianity, they are to be expected now. If by means of revivals the Holy Spirit chose at first to bless the preaching of the truth, the same thing is to be expected still. If in this way the gospel was at first spread among the nations, then we are to infer that this will be the mode in which it will finally spread and triumph in the world. 4. The Acts of the Apostles contains a record of the organization of the Christian church. That church was founded simply by the preaching of the truth, and chiefly by a simple statement of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The "Acts of the Apostles" contains the highest models of preaching, and the purest specimens of that simple, direct, and pungent manner of addressing men, which may be expected to be attended with the influences of the Holy Spirit. It contains some of the most tender, powerful, and eloquent appeals to be found in any language. If a man wishes to learn how to preach well, he can probably acquire it nowhere else so readily as by giving himself to the prayerful and profound study of the specimens contained in this book. At the same time, we have here a view of the character of the true church of Christ. The simplicity of this church must strike every reader of "the Acts." Religion is represented as a work of the heart; the pure and proper effect of truth on the mind. It is free from pomp and splendour, and from costly and magnificent ceremonies. There is no apparatus to impress the senses, no splendour to dazzle, no external rite or parade adapted to draw the affections from the pure and spiritual worship of God. How unlike to the pomp and parade of pagan worship! How unlike the vain and pompous ceremonies which have since, alas! crept into no small part of the Christian church! 5. In this book we have many striking and impressive illustrations of what the gospel is fitted to produce, to make men self-denying and benevolent. The apostles engaged in the great enterprise of converting the world. To secure that, they cheerfully forsook all. Paul became a convert to the Christian faith; and cheerfully for that gave up all his hopes of preferment and honour, and welcomed toil and privation in foreign lands. The early converts had all things in common, Acts 2:44 those "which used curious arts," and were gaining property by a course of iniquity, forsook their schemes of ill-gotten gain; and burned their books publicly, Acts 19:19; Ananias and Sapphira were punished for attempting to impose of the apostles by hypocritical professed self- denials, Acts 5:1-10; and throughout the book there occur constant instances of sacrifices and toil to spread the gospel around the globe. Indeed, these great truths had manifestly seized upon the early Christians: that the gospel was to be preached to all nations; and that whatever stood in the way of that was to be sacrificed; whatever toils and dangers were necessary, were to be borne; and even death itself was cheerfully to be met, it would promote the spread of true religion. This was then genuine Christianity; this is still the spirit of the gospel of Christ. 6. This book throws important light on the Epistles. It is a connecting link between the Gospels and the other parts of the New Testament. Instances of this will be noticed in the Notes. One of the most clear and satisfactory evidences of the genuineness of the books of the New Testament is to be found in the undesigned coincidences between the Acts and the Epistles. This argument was first clearly stated and illustrated by Dr. Paley. His little work illustrating it, the Hora Paulinae, is one of the most unanswerable proofs which have yet been furnished of the truth of the Christian religion. 7. This book contains unanswerable evidence of the truth of the Christian religion. It is a record of the early triumphs of Christianity. Within the space of thirty years after the death of Christ, the gospel had been carried to all parts of the civilized, and to no small portion of the uncivilized world. Its progress and its triumphs were not concealed. Its great transactions were not "done in a corner." It had been preached in the most splendid, powerful, and corrupt cities; churches were already founded in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and at Rome. The gospel had spread in Arabia, Asia Minor, Greece, Macedon, Italy, and Africa. It had assailed the most mighty existing institutions; it had made its way over the most formidable barriers; it had encountered the most deadly and malignant opposition; it had travelled to the capital, and had secured such a hold, even in the imperial city, as to make it certain that it would finally overturn the established religion, and seat itself on the ruins of paganism. Within thirty years it had settled the point that it would overturn every bloody altar; close every pagan temple; and that "banners of the faith would soon stream from the palaces of the Caesars." All this would be accomplished by the instrumentality of the Jews--of fishermen--of Nazarenes. The had neither wealth, armies, nor allies. With the exception of Paul, there were men without learning. They were taught only by the Holy Ghost; armed only with the power of God; victorious only because he was their Captain; and the world acknowledged the presence of the messengers of the Highest, and the power of the Christian religion. Its success never has been, and never can be, accounted for by any other supposition than that God attended it. And if the Christian religion be not true, the change wrought by the twelve apostles is the most inexplicable, mysterious, and wonderful event that has ever been witnessed in this world. Their success to the end of time will stand as an argument of the truth of the scheme, that shall confound the infidel, and sustain the Christian with the assured belief that this is a religion which has proceeded from the almighty and infinitely benevolent God. THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES Chapter 1 Verse 1. The former treatise. The former book. The Gospel by Luke is here evidently intended. Greek, "the former logos," meaning a discourse, or a narrative. O Theophilus. Lk 1:3. As this book was written to the same individual as the former, it was evidently written with the same design--to furnish an authentic and full narrative of events concerning which there would be many imperfect and exaggerated accounts given. See Lk 1:1-4. As these events pertained to the descent of the Spirit, to the spread of the gospel, to the organization of the church by inspired authority, to the kind of preaching by which the church was collected and organized; and as those events were a full proof of the truth and power of the Christian religion, and would be a model for ministers and the church in all future times, it was of great importance that a fair and full narrative of them should be preserved. Luke was the companion of Paul in his travels, and was an eye-witness of no small part of the transactions recorded in this book. See Acts 16:10,17, 20:1-6, 27, 28. As an eye-witness, he was well qualified to make a record of the leading events of the primitive church. And as he was the companion of Paul, he had every opportunity of obtaining information about the great events of the gospel of Christ. Of all. That is, of the principal, or most important parts of the life and doctrines of Christ. It cannot mean that he recorded all that Jesus did, as he has omitted many things that have been preserved by the other evangelists. The word all is frequently thus used to denote the most important or material facts. See Acts 13:10, 1Timm 1:16; Jas 1:2, Mt 2:3, 3:5, Acts 2:5, Rom 11:26, Col 1:6. In each of these places the word here translated "all" occurs in the original, and means many, a large part, the principal portion. It has the same use in all languages. "This word often signifies, indefinitely, a large portion or number, or a great part." Webster. That Jesus. The Syriac version adds, "Jesus our Messiah."--This version was probably made in the second century. Began both to do, etc. This is a Hebrew form of expression, meaning the same thing as that Jesus did and taught. See Gen 9:20, "Noah began to be an husbandman," i.e. was an husbandman. Gen 12:3, in the Septuagint: "Which God began to create and make;" in the Hebrew, "which God created and made." Mk 6:7, "Began to send them forth by two and two," i.e. sent them forth. See also Mk 10:32, 14:65, "And some began to spit on him;" in the parallel place in Mt 26:67, "they did spit in his face." To do. This refers to his miracles and his acts of benevolence, including all that he did for man's salvation. It probably includes, therefore, his sufferings, death, and resurrection, as a part of what he has done to save men. To teach. His doctrines. He had given an account of what the Lord Jesus did, so he was now about to give a narrative of what his apostles did in the same cause, that thus the world might be in possession of an inspired record respecting the redemption and establishment of the Christian church. The history of these events is one of the greatest blessings that God has conferred on mankind; and one of the highest privileges which men can enjoy is that which has been conferred so abundantly on this age in the possession and extension of the word of God. No men could be imposed upon and made to believe that they really saw, talked with, and ate with, a friend whom they had known so long and familiarity, unless it was real. (3.) There were enough of them to avoid the possibility of deception. Though it might be pretended that one man could be imposed on, yet it could not be that an imposition could be practised for forty days on eleven, who were all at first incredulous. (4.) He was with them sufficient time to give evidence. It might be pretended, if they had seen him but once, that they were deceived. But they saw him often, and for the space of more than a month, (5.) They saw him in various places and times where there could be no deception. If they had pretended that they saw him rise, or saw him at twilight in the morning when he rose, it might have been said that they were deluded by some remarkable appearance. Or it might have been said that, expecting, to see him rise, their hopes and agitations would have deceived them, and they would easily have fancied that they saw him. But it is not pretended by the sacred writers that they saw him rise. An impostor would have affirmed this, and would ,wt have omitted it. But the sacred writers affirmed that they saw him after he was risen; when they were free from agitation; when they could judge coolly: in Jerusalem; in their company when at worship; when journeying to Emmaus; when in Galilee; when he went with them to Mount Olivet; and when he ascended to heaven. (6.) He appeared to them as he had always done; as a friend, companion, and benefactor; he ate with them; wrought a miracle before them; was engaged in the same work as he was before he suffered; renewed the same promise of the Holy Spirit; and gave them his Commands respecting the work which he had died to establish and promote. In all these circumstances it was impossible that they should be deceived. Being seen of them forty days. There are no less than THIRTEEN different appearances of Jesus to his disciples recorded. For an account of them, see the Note at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. Speaking to them, etc. He was not only seen by them, but he continued the same topics of discourse as before his sufferings; thus showing that he was the same person that had suffered, and that his heart was still intent on the same great work. Our Saviour's heart was filled with the same design in his life and death, and when he rose; thus showing us that we should aim at the same great work in all the circumstances of our being. Afflictions, persecutions, and death never turned him from this great plan; nor should they be allowed to divert our minds from the great work of redemption. The things pertaining to the kingdom of God. For an explanation of this phrase, the kingdom of God, Mt 3:2. The meaning is, Jesus gave them instructions about the organization, spread, and edification of his church. (a) "the former treatise" Lk 1:1-4 Verse 2. Until the day. The fortieth day after his resurrection, Acts 1:3, Lk 24:51. In which he was taken up. In which he ascended to heaven. He was taken up into a cloud, and is represented as having been borne or carried to heaven, Acts 1:9. After that, etc. This whole passage has been variously rendered. The Syriac renders it, "After he had given commandment unto the apostles whom he had chosen by the Holy Spirit." So also the Ethiopic version. Others have joined the words "through the 'Holy Ghost" to the phrase "was taken up," making it mean that he was taken up by the Holy Ghost. But the most natural and correct translation seems to be that which is in our version. Through the Holy Ghost. To understand this, it is necessary to call to mind the promise that Jesus made before his death, that after his departure, the Holy Ghost would descend to be a guide to his apostles. See Jn 16:7-11, Jn 16:7. It was to be his office to carry forward the work of redemption in applying it to the hearts of men. Whatever was done, therefore, after the atonement and resurrection of Jesus, after he had finished his great work, was to be regarded as under the peculiar influence and direction of the Holy Ghost. Even the instructions of Jesus, his commission to the apostles, etc., were to be regarded as coming within the department of the sacred Spirit, within the province of his peculiar work. The instructions were given by Divine authority, by infallible guidance, and as a part of the work which the Holy Spirit designed. Under that Spirit the apostles were to go forth; by his aid they were to convert the world, to organize the church, to establish its order and its doctrines. And hence the entire work was declared to be by his direction. Though in his larger and more mighty influences, the Spirit did not descend until the day of Pentecost, Lk 24:49; comp. Acts 2 yet in some measure his influence was imparted to them before the ascension of Christ, Jn 20:22. Had given commandments. Particularly the command to preach the gospel to all nations, Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15-19. It may be worthy of remark, that the word commandments, as a noun in the plural number, does not occur in the original. The single word which is translated "had given commandments" is a participle, and means simply having commanded. There is no need, therefore, of supposing that there is reference here to any other command than to that great and glorious injunction to preach the gospel to every creature. That was a command of so much importance as to be worthy of a distinct record, as constituting the sum of all that the Saviour taught them after his resurrection. The apostles. The eleven that remained after the treason and death of Judas. Whom he had chosen. Mt 10; Lk 6:12-16. (b) "Until the day" Acts 1:9, Lk 24:51, 1Timm 3:16 (c) "commandments unto the apostles" Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15-19 Verse 3. He shewed himself. The resurrection of Jesus was the great fact on which the truth of the gospel was to be established. Hence the sacred writers so often refer to it, and establish it by so many arguments. As that truth lay at the foundation of all that Luke was about to record in his history, it was of importance that he should state clearly the sum of the evidence of it in the beginning of his work. After his passion. After he suffered, referring particularly to his death, as the consummation of his sufferings. The word passion, with us, means commonly excitement, or agitation of mind; as love, hope, fear, anger, etc. In the original the word means to suffer. The word passion, applied to the Saviour, denotes his last sufferings. Thus in the Litany of the Episcopal church, it is beautifully said, "By thine agony and bloody sweat; by thy cross and passion, good Lord, deliver us." The Greek word of the same derivation is rendered sufferings in 1Pet 1:11, 4:13, Col 1:24. By many infallible proofs. The word here rendered infallible proofs, does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. In Greek authors it denotes an infallible sign or argument by which anything can be certainly known.--Schleusner. Here it means the same--evidence that he was alive which could not deceive, or in which they could not be mistaken. That evidence consisted in his eating with them, conversing with them, meeting them at various times and places, working miracles, (Jn 21:6,7); and uniformly showing himself to be the same Friend with whom they had been familiar for more than three years. This evidence was infallible, (1.) because it was to them unexpected. They had manifestly not believed that he would rise again, Jn 20:25; Lk 24. There was therefore no delusion resulting from any expectation of seeing him, or from a design to impose on men. (2.) It was impossible that they could have been deceived in relation to one with whom they had been familiar for more than three years. No men could be imposed upon and made to believe that they really saw, talked with, and ate with, a friend whom they had known so long and familiarly, unless it was real. (3.) There were enough of them to avoid the possibility of deception. Though it might be pretended that one man could be imposed on, yet it could not be that an imposition could be practised for forty days on eleven, who were all at first incredulous. (4.) He was with them sufficient time to give evidence. It might be pretended, if they had seen him but once, that they were deceived. But they saw him often, and for the space of more than a month, (5.) They saw him in various places and times where there could be no deception. If they had pretended that they saw him rise, or saw him at twilight in the morning when he rose, it might have been said that they were deluded by some remarkable appearance. Or it might have been said that, expecting to see him rise, their hopes and agitations would have deceived them, and they would easily have fancied that they saw him. But it is not pretended by the sacred writers that they saw him rise. An impostor would have affirmed this, and would not have omitted it. But the sacred writers affirmed that they saw him after he was risen; when they were free from agitation; when they could judge coolly: in Jerusalem; in their company when at worship; when journeying to Emmaus; when in Galilee; when he went with them to Mount Olivet; and when he ascended to heaven. (6.) He appeared to them as he had always done; as a friend, companion, and benefactor; he ate with them; wrought a miracle before them; was engaged in the same work as he was before he suffered; renewed the same promise of the Holy Spirit; and gave them his Commands respecting the work which he had died to establish and promote. In all these circumstances it was impossible that they should be deceived. Being seen of them forty days. There are no less than THIRTEEN different appearances of Jesus to his disciples recorded. For an account of them, Mt 28:20. Speaking to them, etc. He was not only seen by them, but he continued the same topics of discourse as before his sufferings; thus showing that he was the same person that had suffered, and that his heart was still intent on the same great work. Our Saviour's heart was filled with the same design in his life and death, and when he rose; thus showing us that we should aim at the same great work in all the circumstances of our being. Afflictions, persecutions, and death never turned him from this great plan; nor should they be allowed to divert our minds from the great work of redemption. The things pertaining to the kingdom of God. For an explanation of this phrase, the kingdom of God, Mt 3:2. The meaning is, Jesus gave them instructions about the organization, spread, and edification of his church. (d) "many infallible proofs" Lk 24:15, Jn 20:1-21:25. Verse 4. And being assembled together. Margin, "or, eating together." This sense is given to this place in the Latin Vulgate, the Ethiopic, and the Syriac versions. But the Greek word has not properly this sense. It has the meaning of congregating, or assembling. It should have been, however, translated in the active sense, "and having assembled them together." The apostles were scattered after his death. But this passage denotes that he had assembled them together by his authority, for the purpose of giving them a charge respecting their conduct when he should have left them. When this occurred does not appear from the narrative; but it is probable that it was not long before his ascension; and it is clear that the place where they were assembled was Jerusalem. But wait for the promise of the Father. For the fulfillment of the promise respecting the descent of the Holy Spirit, made by the Father. Which ye have heard of me. Which I have made to you. See Jn 14:16,26, 15:26, 16:7-13. (1) "being assembled", or "eating together" (a) "commanded" Lk 24:40 (b) "ye have heard of me" Jn 14:1-16:33 Verse 5. For John truly baptized, etc. These are the words of Jesus to his apostles; and he evidently has reference to what was said of John's baptism compared with his own in Mt 3:11, Jn 1:33. In those verses John is represented as baptizing with water, but the Messiah who was to come as baptizing with the Holy Ghost and with fire. This promise respecting the Messiah was now about to be fulfilled in a remarkable manner. See Acts 2. Not many days hence. This was probably spoken not long before his ascension, and of course not many days before the day of Pentecost. (c) "John truly" Mt 3:11 (+) "truly", or "indeed" (++) "Ghost", or "Spirit" (d) "Holy Ghost" Acts 2:4, 10:45, 11:15 Verse 6. When they therefore were come together. At the Mount of Olives. See Acts 1:9,12. Wilt thou at this time, etc. The apostles had entertained the common opinions of the Jews about the temporal dominion of the Messiah. They expected that he would reign as a prince and conqueror, and free them from the bondage of the Romans. Many instances of this expectation occur in the Gospels, notwithstanding all the efforts which the Lord Jesus made to explain to them the true nature of his kingdom. This expectation was checked, and almost destroyed by his death, Lk 24:21. And it is clear that his death was the only means which could effectually check and change their opinions respecting the nature of his kingdom. Even his own instructions would not do it; and only his being taken from them could direct their minds effectually to the true nature of his kingdom. Yet, though his death checked their expectations, and appeared to thwart their plans, yet his return to life excited them again. They beheld him with them; they were assured it was the same Saviour; they saw now that his enemies had no power over him; that a Being who could rise from the dead, could easily accomplish all his plans. And as they did not doubt now that he would restore the kingdom to Israel, they asked whether he would do it at this time? They did not ask whether he would do it at all, or whether they had correct views of his kingdom; but taking that for granted, they asked him whether that was the time in which he would do it. The emphasis of the inquiry lies in the expression, "at this time," and hence the answer of the Saviour refers solely to the point of their inquiry, and not to the correctness or incorrectness of their opinions. From these expectations of the apostles we may learn, (1.) that there is nothing so difficult to be removed from the mind as prejudice in favour of erroneous opinions. (2.) That such prejudice will survive the plainest proofs to the contrary. (3.) That it will often manifest itself even after all proper means have been taken to subdue it. Erroneous opinions thus maintain a secret ascendancy in a man's mind, and are revived by the slightest circumstances, even long after we supposed they were overcome; and even in the face of the plainest proofs of reason or of Scripture. Restore. Bring back; put into its former situation. Judea was formerly governed by its own kings and laws; now it was subject to the Romans. This bondage was grievous, and the nation sighed for deliverance. The inquiry of the apostles evidently was, whether he would now free them from the bondage of the Romans, and restore them to their former state of freedom and prosperity, as in the times of David and Solomon. See Isa 1:26. The word" restore" also may include more than a reducing it to its former state. It may mean, Wilt thou now bestow the kingdom and dominion to Israel, according to the prediction in Dan 7:27? The kingdom. The dominion; the empire; the reign. The expectation was that the Messiah--the King of Israel--would reign over men, and thus the nation of the Jews extend their empire over all the earth. To Israel. To the Jews, and particularly to the Jewish followers of the Messiah. Lightfoot thinks that this question was asked in indignation against the Jews. "Wilt thou confer dominion on a nation which has just put thee to death?" But the answer of the Saviour shows that this was not the design of the question. (e) "wilt thou" Mt 24:3,4 (f) "restore again" Isa 1:26, Dan 7:27 Verse 7. It is not for you to know. The question of the apostles respected the time of the restoration; it was not whether he would do it. Accordingly, his answer meets precisely their inquiry; and he tells them in general that the time of the great events of God's kingdom was not to be understood by them. A similar question they had asked in Mt 24:3, "Tell us when shall these things be?" Jesus answered them then by showing them certain signs which should precede his coming, and by saying, (Mt 24:36) "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." God has uniformly reproved a vain curiosity on such points, 1Thes 5:1,2, 2Pet 3:10, Lk 12:39,40. The times or the seasons. The difference between these words is, that the former denotes any time or period indefinite, or uncertain; the latter denotes a fixed, definite, or appropriate time. They seem to be used here to denote the periods of all classes of future events. The Father hath put, etc. So much had the Father reserved the knowledge of these, that it is said, that even the Son did not know them. See Mk 13:32. Mk 13:32. In his own power. That is, he has fixed them by his own authority; he will bring them about in his own time and way; and therefore it is not proper for men anxiously to inquire into them. All prophecy is remarkably obscure in regard to the time of its fulfillment. The reasons are, (1.) to excite men to watch for the events that are to come, as the time is uncertain, and they will come "like a thief in the night." (2.) As they are to be brought about by human agency, they are so arranged as to call forth that agency. If men knew just when an event was to come to pass, they might be remiss, and feel that their effort was not needed. (3.) The knowledge of future scenes--of the exact time, might alarm men, and absorb their thoughts entirely, and prevent attendance to the present duties of life. Duty is ours now; God will provide for future scenes. (4.) Promises sufficiently clear and full are therefore given us to encourage us; but not full enough to excite a vain and idle curiosity. All this is eminently true of our own death--one of the most important future scenes through which we are to pass. It is certainly before us; it is near; it cannot be long avoided; it may come at any moment. God has fixed the time, but will not inform us when it shall be. He does not gratify a vain curiosity, or terrify us, by announcing to us the day or the hour when we are to die, as we do a man that is to be executed. This would be to make our lives like that of a criminal sentenced to die, and we should through all our life, through fear of death, be subject to bondage, Heb 2:15. He has made enough known to excite us to prepare, and to be always ready, having our loins girt about, and our lamps trimmed and burning, Lk 12:35. (g) "It is not for" Mt 24:36, 1Thes 5:1,2 (*) "power", or "disposal" Verse 8. But ye shall receive power, etc. Literally, as it is translated in the margin, "ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you." This was said to them to console them. Though they could not know the times which God reserved in his own appointment, yet they should receive the promised Guide and Comforter. The word power here refers to all the help or aid which the Holy Spirit would grant; the power of speaking with new tongues; of preaching the gospel with great effect; of enduring great trials, etc. See Mk 16:17,18. The apostles had impatiently asked him if he was then about to restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus by this answer rebuked their impatience; taught them to repress their ill-timed ardour; and assured them again of the coming of the Holy Ghost. Ye shall be witnesses. For this purpose they were appointed; and for this design they had been with him for more than three years. They had seen his manner of life, his miracles, his meekness, his sufferings; they had listened to his instructions, had conversed and eaten with him as a friend; they had seen him after he was risen, and were about to see him ascend to heaven; and they were qualified to bear witness to all these things in all parts of the earth, They were so numerous, that it could not be pretended that they were deceived; they had been so intimate with him and his plans, that they could testify of him; and there was no motive but conviction of the truth, that could lead them to all these sacrifices in making known the Saviour. The original word here is (μαρτυρες)--martyrs. From this word the name martyrs has been given to those who suffered in times of persecution. The reason why this name was given to them was that they bore witness to the life, instructions, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, even in the midst of persecution and death. It is commonly supposed that nearly all of the apostles thus bore witness to the Lord Jesus: of this, however, there is not clear proof. See Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, vol. i., pp. 55, p56. Still the word here does not necessarily mean that they should be martyrs, or be put to death in bearing witness to the Lord Jesus; but that they should everywhere testify to what they knew of him. The fact that this was the design of their appointment, and that they actually bore such testimony, is abundantly confirmed in the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 1:22, 5:32, 10:39,42, 22:16. In Jerusalem. In the capital of the nation. See Acts 2. The great work of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost occurred there. Most of the disciples remained in Jerusalem until the persecution that arose about the death of Stephen, Acts 8:1,4. The apostles remained there till Herod put James to death. Comp. Acts 8:1, with Acts 12:1,2. This was about eight years. During this time, however, Paul was called to the apostleship, and Peter had preached the gospel to Cornelius, Philip to the eunuch, etc. In all Judea. Judea was the southern division of the Holy Land, and included Jerusalem as the capital. Mt 2:22; Acts 8:1. And in Samaria. This was the middle portion of Palestine. Mt 2:22. This was fulfilled by his disciples. See Acts 8:1, "And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, (Acts 1:4,) everywhere preaching the word;" Acts 8:15, "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them " Acts 1:14, 9:31. And unto the uttermost part of the earth. The word earth, or land, is sometimes taken to denote only the land of Palestine. But here there does not seem to be a necessity for limiting it thus. If Christ had intended that, he would have mentioned Galilee, as being the only remaining division. But as he had expressly directed them to preach the gospel to all nations, the expression here is clearly to be considered as including the Gentile lands as well as the Jewish. The evidence that they did this is found in the subsequent parts of this book, and in the history of the church. In this way Jesus replied to their question. Though he did not tell them the time when it was to be done, nor did he affirm that he would restore the kingdom to Israel, yet he gave them an answer that implied that the work should advance--should advance much farther than the land of Israel; and that they would have much to do in promoting it. All the commands of God, and all his communications are such as to call up our energy, and teach us that we have much to do. The uttermost parts of the earth have been given to the Saviour, (Ps 2:8) and churches should not rest until He whose right it is shall come and reign, Eze 21:27. (1) "power" or "the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you" (a) "ye shall be witnesses" Mt 28:19, Lk 24:47-49 Verse 9. While they beheld. While they saw him. It was of importance to state that circumstance, and to state it distinctly. It is not affirmed in the New Testament that they saw him rise from the dead; because the evidence of that fact could be better established by their seeing him after he was risen. But the truth of his ascension to heaven could not be confirmed in that manner. Hence it was so arranged as that he should ascend in open day; in the presence of his apostles; and that not when they were asleep, or indifferent, but when they were engaged in a conversation that should fix the attention, and when they were looking upon him. Had Jesus vanished secretly, or in the night, the apostles would have been amazed and confounded; perhaps they would even have doubted whether they had not been deceived. But when they saw him leave them in this manner, they could not doubt that he had risen; and when they saw him ascend to heaven, they could not doubt that his work was approved, and that God would carry it onward. This event was exceedingly important. (1.) It was a confirmation of the truth of the Christian religion. (2.) It enabled the apostles to state distinctly where the Lord Jesus was, and at once directed their affections and their thoughts away from the earth, and opened their eyes on the glory of the scheme of religion they were to establish. If their Saviour was in heaven, it settled the question about the nature of his kingdom. It was clear that it was not designed to be a temporal kingdom. The reasons why it was proper that the Lord Jesus should ascend to heaven rather than remain on earth, were, (1,) that he had finished the work which God gave him to do on the earth, Jn 17:24, 19:30 and it was proper that he should be received back to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, Jn 17:4,15, Php 2:6,9,10. (2.) It was proper that he should ascend, that the Holy Spirit might come down and perform his part of the work of redemption. Jesus, by his personal ministry, as a man, could be but in one place; the Holy Spirit could be in all places, and be present at all times, and could apply the work to all men. Jn 16:7. (3.) A part of the work of Christ was yet to be performed in heaven. That was the work of intercession. The high priest of the Jews not only made an atonement, but also presented the blood of sacrifice before the mercy-seat, as the priest of the people, Lev 16:11-14. This was done to typify the entrance of the great High Priest of our profession into the heavens, Heb 9:7,8,11,12. The work which he performs there is the work of intercession, Heb 7:25. This is properly the work which an advocate performs in a court of justice for his client. It means that Christ, our great High Priest, still pleads and manages our cause in heaven; secures our interests; obtains for us grace and mercy. It consists in his appearing in the presence of God for us, Heb 9:24; in his presenting the merits of his blood, Heb 9:12,14 and in securing the continuance of the mercy which has been bestowed on us, and which is still needful for our welfare. The Lord Jesus also ascended that he might assume and exercise the office of King in the immediate seat of power. All worlds were subject to him for the welfare of the church; and it was needful that he should be solemnly invested with that power in the presence of God, as the reward of his earthly toils. 1Cor 15:25, "He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." Eph 1:20-22; Php 2:6-11. A cloud received him. He entered into the region of the clouds, and was hid from their view. But two others of our race have been taken bodily from earth to heaven. Enoch was translated, (Gen 5:24; comp. Heb 11:5) and Elijah was taken by a whirlwind to heaven, 2Kgs 2:11. It is remarkable that when the return of the Saviour is mentioned, it is uniformly said that he will return in the clouds, Acts 1:11; Mt 24:30, 26:64, Mk 13:26, Rev 1:7, Dan 7:13. The clouds are an emblem of sublimity and grandeur, and perhaps this is all that is intended by these expressions. De 4:11, 2Sam 12:12, Ps 97:2, 104:3. Verse 10. Looked steadfastly. They fixed their eyes, or gazed intently toward heaven. Lk 4:20, "And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened (Greek, the same word as here) on him." It means the intense gaze when we are deeply interested, and wish to see clearly and distinctly. Here, they were amazed and confounded; the thing was unlooked-for; and they were even then inquiring whether he would not restore the kingdom to Israel. With this mingled amazement, and disappointment, and curiosity; and with the earnest desire to catch the last glimpse of their beloved Master, they naturally continued to gaze on the distant clouds where he had mysteriously disappeared from their view. Never was a scene more impressive, grand, and solemn than this. Toward heaven. Toward the distant clouds or sky which had received him. As he went up. Literally, "The ascending, or going up." Doubtless they continued to gaze after he had departed from their view. Two men. From the raiment of these "men" and the nature of their message, it seems clear that they were angelic beings, who were sent to meet and comfort the disciples on this occasion. They appeared in human form, and Luke describes them as they appeared. Angels are not unfrequently called men. Lk 24:4, "Two men stood by them in shining garments," etc. Comp. Jn 20:12, Mt 28:5. As two angels are mentioned only as addressing the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus, (Jn 20:12; Lk 24:4) it is no unnatural supposition that these were the same who had been designated to the honourable office of bearing witness to his resurrection, and of giving them all the information about that resurrection, and of his ascension, which their circumstances needed. In white apparel. Angels are commonly represented as clothed in white. Jn 20:12; Mt 28:3; Mk 16:5. It is an emblem of purity; and the worshippers of heaven are represented as clothed in this manner. Rev 3:4, "They shall walk with me in white ;" Rev 3:5, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment " Rev 4:4, 7:9,13,14. (*) "steadfastly" or, "earnestly" (a) "two men" Jn 20:12 Verse 11. Ye men of Galilee. Galilee was the place of their former residence; and this was the name by which they were commonly known. There is no evidence that the angel intended this name in any way to reproach them. Why stand ye, etc. There is doubtless a slight degree of censure implied in this, as well as a design to call their attention away from a vain attempt to see the departed Saviour. The impropriety may have been, (1.) in the feeling of disappointment, as if he would not restore the kingdom to Israel. (2.) Possibly they were expecting that he would again soon appear; though he had often foretold them that he would ascend to heaven. (3.) There might have been an impropriety in their earnest desire for the mere bodily presence of the Lord Jesus, when it was more important that it should be in heaven. We may see here, also, that it is our duty not to stand in idleness, and to gaze even towards heaven. We, as well as the apostles, have a great work to do, and we should actively engage in it without delay. Gazing up. Looking up. This same Jesus. This was said to comfort them. The same tried Friend, who had been so faithful to them, would return. They ought not, therefore, to look with despondency at his departure. Into heaven. This expression denotes into the immediate presence of God; or into the place of perpetual purity and happiness, where God peculiarly manifests his favour. The same thing is frequently designated by his sitting on the right hand of God, as emblematic of power, honour, and favour. Mk 16:19 Mk 14:62 Heb 1:3 Heb 8:1 Acts 7:55; Rom 8:34, Eph 1:20. Shall so come. At the day of judgment. Jn 14:3, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again," etc. In like manner, etc. In clouds, as he ascended. Acts 1:9; 1Thes 4:16. This address was designed to comfort the disciples. Though their Master and Friend was taken from them, yet he was not removed for ever. He would come again with similar majesty and glory, for the vindication of his people, and to tread all his enemies under his feet. The design for which he will come, will be to judge the world, Mt 25. There will be an evident fitness and propriety in his coming. (1.) Because his appropriate work in heaven as Mediator shall be accomplished; his people shall have been saved; the enemy subdued; death shall have been conquered; and the gospel shall have shown its power in subduing all forms of wickedness; in removing the effects of sin, in establishing the law, in vindicating the honour of God; and shall thus have done all that will be needful to be done to establish the authority of God throughout the universe. It will be proper, therefore, that this mysterious order of things shall be wound up, and the results become a matter of record in the history of the universe. It will be better than it would be to suffer an eternal millennium on the earth, while the saints should many of them slumber, and the wicked still be in their graves. (2.) It is proper that he should come to vindicate his people, and raise them up to glory. Here they have been persecuted, oppressed, put to death. Their character is assailed; they are poor; and the world despises them. It is fit that God should show himself to be their Friend; that he should do justice to their injured names and motives; that he should bring out hidden and obscure virtue, and vindicate it; that he should enter every grave and bring forth his friends to life. (3.) It is proper that he should show his hatred of sin. Here it triumphs. The wicked are rich, and honoured, and mighty, and say, "Where is the promise of his coming?" 2Pet 3:4. It is right that he should defend his cause. Hence the Lord Jesus will come to guard the avenues to heaven, and to see that the universe suffers no wrong, by the admission of an improper person to the skies. (4.) The great transactions of redemption have been public, open, often grand. The apostasy was public, in the face of angels and of the universe. Sin has been open, public, high,handed. Misery has been public, and has rolled its deep and turbid waves in the face of the universe. Death has been public; all worlds have seen the race cut down and moulder. The death of Jesus was public; the angels saw it; the heavens were clothed with mourning; the earth shook; and the dead arose. The angels have desired to look into these things, (1Pet 1:12,) and have felt an intense solicitude about men. Jesus was publicly whipped, cursed, crucified; and it is proper that he should publicly triumph, that all heaven rejoicing, and all hell at length humbled, should see his public victory. Hence he will come with clouds--with angels--with fire--and will raise the dead, and exhibit to all the universe the amazing close of the scheme of redemption. (5.) We are in these verses presented with the most grand and wonderful events that this world has ever known--the ascension and return of the Lord Jesus. Here is consolation for the Christian; and here is a source of ceaseless alarm to the sinner. (b) "Ye men of Galilee" Acts 2:7, 13:31 (c) "shall so come" Jn 14:3, 1Thes 4:16 Verse 12. Then returned they unto Jerusalem. In Lk 24:52, we are told that they worshipped Jesus before they returned. And it is probable that the act of worship to which he refers, was that which is mentioned in this chapter--their gazing intently on their departing Lord. From the mount called Olivet. From the Mount of Olives. Mt 21:1. The part of the mountain from which he ascended was the eastern declivity, where stood the little village of Bethany, Lk 24:50. A sabbath day's journey. As far as might be lawfully travelled by a Jew on the Sabbath. This was two thousand paces or cubits; or seven furlongs and a half--not quite one mile. Mt 24:20. The distance of a lawful journey on the Sabbath was not determined by the laws of Moses, but the Jewish teachers had fixed it at two thousand paces. This measure was determined on because it was a tradition, that in the camp of the Israelites when coming from Egypt, no part of the camp was more than two thousand paces from the tabernacle; and over this space, therefore, they were permitted to travel for worship. Perhaps, also, some countenance was given to this from the fact that this was the extent of the suburbs of the Levitical cities, Nu 35:5. Mount Olivet was but five furlongs from Jerusalem, and Bethany was fifteen furlongs. But on the eastern declivity of the mountain the tract of country was called, for a considerable space, the region of Bethany; and it was from this place that the Lord Jesus ascended. (d) "Then returned they" Lk 24:52. Verse 13. Were come in. To Jerusalem. They went up into an upper room. The word--υπερωον--here translated upper room, occurs but four times in the New Testament. Acts 9:37, "She (Dorcas) was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber," Acts 9:39, 20:8, "And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together." The room so designated was an upper chamber used for devotion; or to place the dead before burial; or occasionally for conversation, etc. Here it evidently means the place where they were assembled for devotion. Lk 24:53 says they were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. And some have supposed that the upper room here designated was one of the rooms in the temple. But there is no evidence of that; and it is not very probable. Such a room was a part of every house, especially in Jerusalem; and they probably selected one where they might be together, and yet so retired that they might be safe from the Jews. Where abode. Where were remaining. This does not mean that this was their permanent habitation; but they remained there waiting for the descent of the Holy Spirit. Peter, etc. All the apostles were there which Jesus had at first chosen, except Judas, Lk 6:13-16. (a) "Peter and James" Lk 6:13-16 Verse 14. These all continued, etc. The word continued denotes persevering and constant attention. The main business was devotion. Acts 6:4, "We will give ourselves continually--to the ministry of the word." Rom 12:12, "Continuing instant in prayer:" Rom 13:6, "Attending continually upon this very thing." It is their main and constant employment, Col 4:2. With one accord. With one mind; unitedly; unanimously. There were no schisms, no divided interests, no discordant purposes. This is a beautiful picture of devotion, and a specimen of what social worship ought now to be, and a beautiful illustration of Ps 133. The apostles felt that they had one great object; and their deep grief at the loss of their Master, their doubts and perplexities, led them, as all afflictions ought to lead us, to the throne of grace. In prayer and supplication. These words are nearly synonymous, and are often interchanged. They express, here, petitions to God for blessings, and prayer to avert impending evils. With the women. The women that had followed the Lord Jesus from Galilee, Lk 8:2,3, 23:49,55, 24:10, Mt 27:55. The women particularly mentioned are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, the mother of Zebedee's children, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Susanna. Besides these, there were others whose names are not mentioned. Most of them were relatives of the apostles or of our Saviour; and it is not improbable that some of them were wives of the apostles. Peter is known to have been married, (Mt 8:14,) and had his wife in attendance, (1Cor 9:5;) and the same was doubtless true of some of the other apostles, (1Cor 9:5.) Mary is here particularly mentioned, the mother of Jesus; showing that she now cast in her lot with the apostles. She had, besides, been particularly entrusted to the care of John, (Jn 19:26,27,) and had no other home. This is the last time she is mentioned in the New Testament. And with his brethren. Mt 12:46. At first they had been unbelieving about the claims of Jesus, (Jn 7:5;) but it seems that they had been subsequently converted. (*) "accord" or, "one mind" (b) "the women" Lk 23:49,55, 24:10 Verse 15. In those days. On one of the days intervening between the ascension of Jesus and the day of Pentecost. Peter stood up. Peter standing up, or rising. This is a customary expression in the Scriptures when one begins to do a thing, Lk 15:18. The reason why Peter did this may be seen in the Note Mt 16:16,17. It is not improbable, besides, that Peter was the most aged of the apostles; and from his uniform conduct we know that he was the most ardent. It was perfectly characteristic, therefore, for him to introduce the business of the election of a new apostle. The disciples. This was the name which was given to them as being learners in the school of Christ. Mt 5:1. The number of the names. The number of the persons, or individuals. The word name is often used to denote the person, Rev 3:4, Acts 4:12, 18:15, Eph 1:21. In Syriac it is, "the assembly of men was about an hundred and twenty." This was the first assembly convened to transact the business of the church; and it is not a little remarkable that the vote in so important a matter as electing an apostle was by the entire church. It settles the question that the election of a minister and pastor should be by the church, and not be imposed on them by any right or presentation by individuals, or by any ecclesiastical body. If a case could ever occur where a minister should be chosen by the ministry only, such a case was here in the election of another apostle. And yet in this the entire church had a voice. Whether this was all the true church at this time, does not appear from the history. This expression cannot mean that there were no more Christians, but that these were all that had convened in the upper room. It is almost certain that our Saviour had, by his own ministry, brought many others to be his true followers. Verse 16. Men and brethren. This is a customary mode of address, implying affection and respect, Acts 13:26. The Syriac has it more appropriately than by the introduction of the conjunction "and"-- "Men, our brethren." This Scripture. This portion or prediction contained in the writings of the Old Testament. Scripture, writing. Jn 5:39. The passage to which Peter refers is commonly supposed to be that recorded in Ps 41:9, "Yea, mine own familiar friend--hath lifted up his heel against me." This is expressly applied to Judas by our Saviour, in Jn 13:18. But it seems clear that the reference is not to the 41st Psalm, but to the passage which Peter proceeds to quote in Acts 1:20. Must needs have been fulfilled. It would certainly happen that it would be fulfilled. Not that there was any physical necessity, or any compulsion; but it could not but occur that a prediction of God should be fulfilled. This makes no affirmation about the freedom of Judas in doing it. A man will be just as free in wickedness if it be foretold that he will be wicked, as if it had never been known to any other being. The Holy Ghost, etc. This is a strong attestation to the inspiration of David, and accords with the uniform testimony of the New Testament, that the sacred writer spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2Pet 1:21. Concerning Judas. In what respect this was concerning Judas, see Acts 1:20. Which was guide, etc. Mt 26:47, Jn 18:3. (c) "which the Holy Ghost" Ps 41:9, Jn 13:18 (d) "guide to them" Mt 26:47, Jn 18:3 Verse 17. He was numbered with us. He was chosen as an apostle by the Lord Jesus, Lk 6:13-16, This does not mean that he was a true Christian, but that he was reckoned among the apostles. Jesus knew that he never loved him. Long before he betrayed him, he declared that he was a devil, Jn 6:70. He knew his whole character when he chose him, Jn 2:25. If it be asked why he chose such a man to be an apostle--why he was made the treasurer of the apostles, and was admitted to the fullest confidence--we may reply, that a most important object was gained in having such a man --a spy--among them. It might be pretended when the apostles bore testimony to the purity of life, of doctrine, and of purpose, of the Lord Jesus, that they were interested and partial friends; that they might be disposed to suppress some of his real sentiments, and represent him in a light more favourable than the truth. Hence the testimony of such a man as Judas, if favourable, must be invaluable. It would be free from the charge of partiality. If Judas knew anything unfavourable to the character of Jesus, he would have communicated it to the sanhedrim. If he knew of any secret plot against the government, or seditious purpose, he had every inducement to declare it. He had every opportunity to know it: he was with him; heard him converse; was a member of his family, and admitted to terms of familiarity. Yet even Judas could not be bought, or bribed, to testify against the moral character of the Saviour. If he had done it, or could have done it, it would have preserved him from the charge of treason; entitled him to the reputation of a public benefactor in discovering secret sedition; and have saved him from the pangs of remorse, and from self-murder. Judas would have done it if he could. But he alleged no such charge; he did not even dare to lisp a word against the pure designs of the Lord Jesus; and his own pangs and death are the highest proof that can be desired of his conviction that the betrayed Redeemer was innocent. Judas would have been just the witness which the Jews desired of the treasonable purposes of Jesus. But that could not be had, even by gold; and they were compelled to suborn other men to testify against the Son of God, Mt 26:60. We may just add here, that the introduction of such a character as that of Judas Iscariot into the number of the apostles, and the use to be made of his testimony, would never have occurred to an impostor. An impostor would have said that they were all the true friends of the Lord Jesus. To have invented such a character as that of Judas, and to make him perform such a part in the plan as the sacred writers do, would have required too much art and cunning, was too refined and subtle a device to have been thought of, unless it had actually occurred. (e) "he was numbered with us" Lk 6:16 Verse 18. Now this man, etc. The money which was given for betraying the Lord Jesus was thrown down in the temple, and the field was purchased with it by the Jewish priests. See Mt 27:5,10, Mt 27:5, Mt 27:5. A man is said often to do a thing, when he furnished means for doing it. The reward of iniquity. The price which he had for that deed of stupendous wickedness--the betraying of the Lord Jesus. And falling headlong. He first hanged himself, and then fell and was burst asunder, Mt 27:5. (a) "this man" Mt 27:5-10 (b) "reward of iniquity" 2Pet 2:15 (*) "purchased a field" or, "Caused a field to be purchased" Verse 19. It was known, etc. Mt 27:8. The scene in the temple, the acts of the priests in purchasing the field, etc., would make it known; and the name of the field would preserve the memory of the guilt of Judas. Their proper tongue. The language spoken by the Jews--the Syro-Chaldaic. Aceldama. This is composed of two Syro-Chaldaic words, and means, literally, "the field of blood." Verse 20. For it is written, etc. See Ps 69:26. This is the prediction, doubtless, to which Peter refers in Acts 1:16. The intermediate passage in Acts 1:18,19, is probably a parenthesis; the words of Luke, not of Peter. It is not probable that Peter would introduce a narrative like this, with which they were all familiar, in an address to the disciples, The Hebrew in the Psalm is, "Let their habitation (Heb., fold, enclosure for cattle; tower, or palace) be desolate, and let none dwell in their tents." This quotation is not made literally from the Hebrew, nor from the Septuagint. The plural is changed to the singular, and there are some other slight variations. The Hebrew says, "Let no men dwell in their tents." The reference to the tents is omitted in the quotation. The term habitation, in the Psalm, means evidently the dwelling-place of the enemies of the writer of the Psalm. It is an image expressive of their overthrow and defeat by a just God: "Let their families be scattered, and the places where they have dwelt be without an inhabitant, as a reward for their crimes." If the Psalm was originally composed with reference to the Messiah and his sufferings, the expression here was not intended to denote Judas in particular, but one of his foes, who was to meet the just punishment of rejecting, and betraying, and murdering him. The change, therefore, which Peter made from the plural to the singular, and the application to Judas especially, as one of those enemies, accords with the design of the Psalm, and is such a change as the circumstances of the case justified and required. It is an image, therefore, expressive of judgment and desolation coming upon his betrayer--an image to be literally fulfilled in relation to his habitation, drawn from the desolation when a man is discomfited, overthrown, and his dwelling-place given up to desolation. It is not a little remarkable that this Psalm is repeatedly quoted as referring to the Messiah. Ps 69:9, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up," expressly applied to Christ in Jn 2:17. Ps 69:21, "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." The thing which was done to Jesus on the cross, Mt 27:34. The whole Psalm is expressive of deep sorrow--of persecution, contempt, weeping, being forsaken, and is throughout applicable to the Messiah; with what is remarkable, not a single expression to be, of necessity, limited to David. It is not easy to ascertain whether the ancient Jews referred this Psalm to the Messiah. A part of the title to the Psalm in the Syriac version is, "It is called a prophecy concerning those things which Christ suffered, and concerning the casting away of the Jews." The prophecy in Ps 69:25 is not to be understood of Judas alone, but of the enemies of the Messiah in general, of which Judas war one. On this principle the application to Judas of the passage by Peter is to be defended. And, His bishopric let another take. This is quoted from Ps 109:8: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." This is called "a Psalm of David," and is of the same class as Psalms 6, 22, 25, 38, and 42. This class of Psalms is commonly supposed to have expressed David's feelings in the calamitous times of the persecution by Saul, the rebellion of Absalom, etc. They are all also expressive of the condition of a suffering and persecuted Messiah; and are many of them applied to him in the New Testament. The general principle on which most of them are applicable, is not that David personated or typified the Messiah, which is nowhere affirmed, and which can be true in no intelligible sense; but that he was placed in circumstances similar to the Messiah; encompassed with like enemies; persecuted in the same manner. They are expressive of high rank, office, dignity, and piety, cast down, waylaid, and encompassed with enemies. In this way they express general sentiments as much applicable to the case of the Messiah as to David. They were placed in similar circumstances. The same help was needed. The same expressions would convey their feelings. The same treatment was proper for their enemies. On this principle it was that David deemed his enemy, whoever he was, unworthy of his office; and desired that it should be given to another. In like manner, Judas had rendered himself unworthy of his office, and there was the same propriety that it should be given to another. And as the office had now become vacant by the death of Judas, according to one declaration in the Psalms, so, according to another, it was proper that it should be conferred on some other person. The word rendered "office" in the Psalm, means the care, charge, business, oversight of anything. It is a word applicable to magistrates, whose care it is to see the laws executed; to military men who have charge of an army, or a part of an army. In Job 10:12, it is rendered "thy visitation"--thy care; in Nu 4:16, "and to the office of Eleazar," etc.; 2Kgs 11:18. In the case of David it refers to those who were entrusted with military or other offices, and who had treacherously perverted them to persecute and oppose him; and thus shown themselves unworthy of the office. The Greek word which is used here--επισκοπην--is taken from the Septuagint, and means the same thing as the Hebrew. It is well rendered in the margin, "office, or charge." It means charge of any kind, or office, without in itself specifying of what kind. It is the concrete of the noun --επισκοπος--, commonly translated "bishop," and means his office, charge, or duty, That word designates simply having the oversight of anything; and as applied to the officers of the New Testament, it denotes merely their having charge of the affairs of the church, without specifying the nature or the extent of their jurisdiction. Hence it is often interchanged with presbyter, or elder, and expresses the discharge of the duties of the same office. Acts 20:28, "Take heed (presbyters or elders, Acts 1:17) therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers"--επισκοπους--bishops." Heb 12:15, "Looking diligently," etc.--επισκοπουντες Php 1:1, "with the bishops and deacons." "Paul called presbyters, bishops; for they had at that time the same name."--Theodoret, as quoted by Schleusner. 1Pet 5:2, "Feed the flock of God, (i.e., you who are elders, or presbyters, 1Pet 5:1;) taking the oversight thereof,"--επισκοπουντες. These passages show that the term in the New Testament designates the supervision or care which was exercised over the church, by whomsoever performed, without specifying the nature or extent of the jurisdiction. It is scarcely necessary to add that Peter here did not intend to affirm that Judas sustained any office corresponding to what is now commonly understood by the term "bishop." (c) "Let his habitation" Ps 69:25 (d) "and, His bishophoric" Ps 109:8 (1) "bishoporic" or, "office" Verses 21, 22. Wherefore of these men. Of those who had witnessed the life and works of Christ, and who were therefore qualified to discharge the duties of the office from which Judas fell. Probably Peter refers to the seventy disciples, Lk 10:1,2. Went in and out. A phrase signifying that he was their constant companion. It expresses, in general, all the actions of the life, Ps 121:8, De 28:19, 31:2. Beginning from the baptism of John. The words "beginning from," in the original, refer to the Lord Jesus. The meaning may be thus expressed: "During all the time in which the Lord Jesus, beginning (his ministry) at the time when he was baptized by John, went in and out among us, until the time when he was taken up," etc. From those who had during that time been the constant companions of the Lord Jesus must one be taken, who would thus be a witness of his whole ministry. Must one be ordained. It is fit or proper that one should be ordained. The reason of this was, that Jesus had originally chosen the number twelve for this work, and as one of them had fallen, it was proper that the breach should be filled by some person equally qualified for the office, The reason why it was proper that he should be taken from the seventy disciples was, that they had been particularly distinguished by Jesus himself, and commanded to preach, and endowed with various powers, and had been witnesses of most of his public life, Lk 10:1-16. The word ordained, with us, has a fixed and definite meaning. It denotes to set apart to a sacred office with the proper form and solemnities, commonly by the imposition of hands. But this is not, of necessity, the meaning of this passage. The Greek word usually denoting ordination is not used here. The expression is, literally, must one be, or become--γενεσθαι--a witness with us of his resurrection." The expression does not imply that he must be set apart in any particular manner, but simply that one should be designated, or appointed for this specific purpose, to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. (e) "of these men" Lk 10:1,2, Jn 15:27 Verse 22. (*) "ordained" or, "Appointed" Verse 23. And they appointed two. They proposed, or, as we should say, nominated two. Literally, they placed two, or made them to stand forth, as persons do who are candidates for office. These two were probably more distinguished by prudence, wisdom, piety, and age, than the others; and were so nearly equal in qualifications, that they could not determine which was the best fitted for the office. Joseph called Barsabas, etc. It is not certainly known what the name Barsabas denotes. The Syriac word bar means son, and the word sabas has been translated an oath, rest, quiet, or captivity. Why the name was given to Joseph is not known; but probably it was the family name--Joseph son, of Sabas. Some have conjectured that this was the same man who, in Acts 4:36, is called Barnabas. But of this there is no proof. Lightfoot supposes that he was the son of Alpheus, and brother of James the Less, and that he was chosen on account Of his relationship to the family of the Lord Jesus. Was surnamed Justus. Who was called Justus. This is a Latin name, meaning just, and was probably given him on account of his distinguished integrity. It was not uncommon among the Jews for a man to have several names, Mt 10:3. And Matthias. Nothing is known of the family of this man, or of his character, further than that he was numbered with the apostles, and shared their lot in the toils, and persecutions, and honours of preaching the gospel to mankind. (a) "Barsabas" Acts 15:22 Verse 24. And they prayed. As they could not agree on the individual, they invoked the-direction of God in their choice--an example which should be followed in every selection of an individual to exercise the duties of the sacred office of the ministry. Which knowest the hearts of all men. This is often declared to be the peculiar prerogative of God. Jer 17:10, "I, Jehovah, search the heart," etc.; Ps 139:1,23, 1Chr 28:9. Yet this attribute is also expressly ascribed to Jesus Christ. Rev 2:18,23, "These things saith the Son of God--I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts." Jn 2:25, 6:64, 16:19. There are strong reasons for supposing that the apostles on this occasion addressed this prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ. (1.) The name Lord is the common appellation which they gave to him, Acts 2:36, 7:59,60, 10:36, 1Cor 2:8, Php 2:11, Rev 11:8, etc. (2.) We are told that they worshipped him, or rendered him divine honours after his ascension, Lk 24:52. (3.) The disciples were accustomed to address him after his crucifixion by the names Lord or God indifferently, Acts 1:6, Jn 20:28, Acts 7:59. (4.) This was a matter pertaining especially to the church which the Lord Jesus had redeemed, and to his own arrangement in regard to it. He had chosen the apostles; he had given their commission; he had fixed their number; and what is worthy of special remark here, he had been the companion of the very men, and knew their qualifications for their work. If the apostles ever called on the Lord Jesus after his ascension, this was the case in which they would be likely to do it. That it was done is clear from the account of the death of Stephen, Acts 7:59,60. And in this important matter of ordaining a new apostle to be a witness for Jesus Christ, nothing was more natural than that they should address him, though bodily absent, as they would assuredly have done if he were present. And if on this occasion they did actually address Christ, then two things clearly follow. First, that it is proper to render him Divine homage, agreeably to the uniform declarations of the Scriptures. Jn 5:23, "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." Heb 1:6, "And let all the angels of God worship him." Php 2:10,11, Rev 5:8-14, 1Thes 3:11,12. Secondly, he must be Divine. To none other but God can religious homage be rendered; and none other can be described as knowing the hearts of all men. The reason why they appealed to him on this occasion as the Searcher of the heart, was doubtless the great importance of the work to which the successor of Judas was to be called. One apostle of fair external character had proved a traitor; and with this fact full before them, they appealed to the Saviour himself, to select one who would be true to him, and not bring dishonour on his cause. Shew whether, etc. Show which of them. Thou hast chosen. Not by any public declaration, but which of the two thou hast judged to be best qualified for the work, and hast fitted for it. (b) "knowest the hearts" Jer 17:10, Rev 2:23 Verse 25. That he may take part of this ministry. The word rendered --κληρον--is the same which in the next verse is rendered lots. It properly means a lot, or portion; the portion divided to a man, or assigned to him by casting lots; and also the instrument or means by which the lot is made. The former is its meaning here; the office, or portion of apostolic work which would fall to him by taking the place of Judas. Ministry and apostleship. This is an instance of the figure of speech hendiadys, when two words are used to express one thing. It means the apostolic ministry. See instances in Gal 1:14, "Let them be for signs, and for seasons," i.e., signs of seasons. Acts 23:6, "Hope and resurrection of the dead," i.e., hope of the resurrection of the dead. That he might go to his own place. These words by different interpreters have been referred both to Matthias and Judas. Those who refer them to Matthias say that they mean, that Judas fell that Matthias might go to his own place, that is, to a place for which he was fitted, or well qualified. But to this there are many objections. (1.) The apostolic office could with no propriety be called, in reference to Matthias, his own place, until it was actually conferred on him. (2.) There is no instance m which the expression, to go to his own place, is applied to a successor in office. (3.) It is not true that the design or reason why Judas fell was to make way for another. He fell by his crimes; his avarice, his voluntary and enormous wickedness. (4.) The former part of the sentence contains this sentiment: "Another must be appointed to this office which the death of Judas has made vacant. "If this expression, "that he might go," etc., refers to the successor of Judas, it expresses the same sentiment, but more obscurely. (5.) The obvious and natural meaning of the phrase is to refer it to Judas. But those who suppose it to refer to Judas differ greatly about its meaning. Some suppose it refers to his own house; that he left the apostolic office to return to his own house; and they appeal to Nu 24:25. But it is not true that Judas did this; nor is there the least proof that it was his design. Others refer it to the grave, as the place of man, where all must lie; and particularly as an ignominious place where Judas should lie. But there is no example of the word place being used in this sense; nor is there an instance where a man by being buried is said to return to his own, or proper place. Others have supposed that the manner of his death, by hanging, is referred to, as his own or his proper place. But this interpretation is evidently an unnatural and forced one. The word place cannot be applied to an act of self-murder. It denotes habitation, abode, situation in which to remain; not an act. These are the only interpretations which can be suggested of the passage, except the common and obvious one of referring it to the future abode of Judas in the world of woe. This might be said to be his own, as it was adapted to him; as he had prepared himself for it; and as it was proper that he who had betrayed his Lord should remain there. This interpretation may be defended by the following considerations: (1.) It is the obvious and natural meaning of the words. It commends itself by its simplicity, and its evident connexion with the context. It has in all ages been the common interpretation; nor has any other been adopted unless there was a theory to be defended about future punishment. Unless men had previously made up their minds not to believe in future punishment, no one would ever have thought of any other interpretation. This fact alone throws strong light on the meaning of the passage. (2.) It accords with the crimes of Judas, and with all that we know of him. The future doom of Judas was not unknown to the apostles. Jesus Christ had expressly declared this: "it had been good for that man if he had not been born;" a declaration which could not be true if, after any limited period of suffering, he were at last admitted to eternal happiness. See Mt 26:24, and Mt 26:24. This declaration was made in the presence of the eleven apostles, at the institution of the Lord's Supper, at a time when their attention was absorbed in deep interest in what Christ said; and it was therefore a declaration which they would not be likely to forget. As they knew the fate of Judas, nothing was more natural for them than to speak of it familiarly as a thing which had actually occurred when he betrayed his Lord, hung himself, and went to his own place. (3.) The expression, to "go to his own place," is one which is used by the ancient writers to denote going to the eternal destiny. Thus the Jewish tract, Baal Turim, on Nu 24:25, says, "Balaam went to his own place, i.e., to Gehenna," to hell. Thus the Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase on Eccl 6:6, says, "Although the days of a man's life were two thousand years, and he did not study the law, and do justice, in the day of his death his soul shall descend to hell, to the one place where all sinners go." Thus Ignatius in the Epistle to the Magnesians says, "Because all things have an end, the two things death and life shall lie down together, and each one shall go to his own place." The phrase his own place, means the place or abode which is fitted for him, which is his appropriate home. Judas was not in a place which befitted his character when he was an apostle; he was not in such a place in the church; he would not be in heaven. Hell was the only place which was fitted to the man of avarice and of treason. And if this be the true interpretation of this passage, then it follows, (1,) that there will be such a thing as future, eternal punishment. One such man there certainly is in hell, and ever will be. If there is one there, for the same reason there may be others. All objections to the doctrine are removed by this single fact; and it cannot be true that all men will be saved. (2.) Each individual in eternity will find his own proper place. Hell is not an arbitrary appointment. Every man will go to the place for which his character is fitted. The hypocrite is not fitted for heaven. The man of pride, and avarice, and pollution, and falsehood, is not fitted for heaven. The place adapted to such men is hell; and the design of the judgment will be to assign to each individual his proper abode in the eternal world. (3.) The design of the judgment of the great day will be to assign to all the inhabitants of this world their proper place. It would not be fit that the holy and pure should dwell for ever in the same place with the unholy and impure; and the Lord Jesus will come to assign to each his appropriate eternal habitation. (4.) The sinner will have no cause of complaint. If he is assigned to his proper place, he cannot complain. If he is unfit for heaven, he cannot complain that he is excluded. And if his character and feelings are such as make it proper that he should find his eternal abode among the enemies of God, then he must expect that a God of justice and equity will assign him such a doom. But (5) this will not alleviate his pain; it will deepen his woe. He will have the eternal consciousness that that, and that only, is his place--the doom for which he is fitted. The prison is no less dreadful because a man is conscious that he deserves it. The gallows is not the less terrible, because the man knows that he deserves to die. And the eternal consciousness of the sinner that he is unfit for heaven; that there is not a solitary soul there with whom he could have sympathy or friendship; that he is fit for hell, and hell only, will be an ingredient of eternal bitterness in the cup of woe that awaits him. Let not the sinner, then, hope to escape; for God will assuredly appoint his residence in that world to which his character here is adapted. The character and end of Judas is one of the most important and instructive in history. It teaches us, (1.) that Christ may employ wicked men for important purposes in his kingdom. Acts 1:17. He does no violence to their freedom, suffers them to act as they please, but brings important ends out of their conduct. One of the most conclusive arguments for the pure character of Jesus Christ is drawn from the silent testimony of Judas. (2.) The character of Judas was eminently base and wicked. He was influenced by one of the worst human passions; and yet he cloaked it from all the apostles. It was remarkable that any man should have thought of making money in such a band of men; but avarice will show itself everywhere. (3.) We see the effects of avarice in the church. It led to the betraying of Jesus Christ, and to his death; and it has often betrayed the cause of pure religion since. There is no single human passion that has done so much evil in the church of God as this. It may be consistent with external decency and order; it is that on which the world acts, and which it approves; and it may therefore be indulged without disgrace, while open and acknowledged vices would expose their possessors to shame and ruin. And yet it paralyzes and betrays religion probably more than any single propensity, of man. (4.) The character of an avaricious man in the church will be developed. Opportunities will occur when it will be seen and known by what principle the man is influenced. So it was with Achan, (Josh 7:21;) so it was with Judas; and so it will be with all. Occasions will occur which will test the character, and show what manner of spirit a man is of. Every appeal to a man's benevolence, every call upon his charity, shows what spirit influences him, and whether he is actuated by the love of gold, or by the love of Jesus Christ and his cause. Verse 26. And they gave forth their lots. Some have supposed that this means they voted. But to this interpretation there are insuperable objections. (1.) The word lots--κληρους--is not used to express votes, or suffrage. (2.) The expression; "the lot fell upon," is not consistent with the notion of voting. It is commonly expressive of casting lots. (3.) Casting lots was common among the Jews on important and difficult occasions, and it was natural that the apostles should resort to it in this. Thus David divided the priests by lot, 1Chr 24:5. The land of Canaan was divided by lot, Nu 26:55 Josh 15:1-17:18. Jonathan, son of Saul, was detected as having violated his father's command, and as bringing calamity on the Israelites, by lot, 1Sam 14:41,42. Achan was detected by lot, Josh 7:16-18. In these cases the use of the lot was regarded as a solemn appeal to God, for his direct interference in cases which they could not themselves decide. Prov 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." The choice of an apostle was an event of the same kind, and was regarded as a solemn appeal to God for his direction and guidance in a case which the apostles could not determine. The manner in which this was done is not certainly known. The common mode of casting lots, was to write the names of the persons on pieces of stone, wood, etc., and put them in one urn; and the name of the office, portion, etc., on others. These were then placed in an urn with other pieces of stone, etc., which were blank. The names were then drawn at random, and also the other pieces, and this determined the case. The casting of a lot is determined by laws of nature, as regularly as anything else. There is properly no chance in it. We do not know how a die may turn up; but this does not imply that it will turn up without any regard to rule, or at haphazard. We cannot trace the influences which may determine either this or that side to come up; but still it is done by regular and proper laws, and according to the circumstances of position, force, etc., in which it is cast. Still although it does not imply any special or miraculous interposition of Providence; though it may not be absolutely wrong, in cases which cannot otherwise be determined, to use the lot, yet it does not follow that it is proper often to make this appeal. Almost all cases of doubt can be determined more satisfactorily in some other way than by the lot. The habit of appealing to it engenders the love of hazards and of games; leads to heart- burnings, to jealousies, to envy, to strife, and to dishonesty. Still less does the example of the apostles authorize games of hazard, or lotteries, which are positively evil, and attended with ruinous consequences, apart from any inquiry about the lawfulness of the lot. They either originate in, or promote, covetousness, neglect of regular industry, envy, jealousy, disappointment, dissipation, bankruptcy, falsehood, and despair. What is gained by one is lost by another, and both the gain and the loss promote some of the worst passions of man: boasting, triumph, self-confidence, indolence, dissipation, on the one hand; and envy, disappointment, sullenness, desire of revenge, remorse, and ruin, on the other. God intended that man should live by sober toil. All departures from this great law of our social existence lead to ruin. Their lots. The lots which were to decide their case. They are called, theirs, because they were to determine which of them should be called to the apostolic office. The lot fell. This is an expression applicable to casting lots, not to voting. He was numbered. By the casting of the lot--συγκατεψηφισθη--. This word is from --ψηφος--a calculus, or pebble, by which votes were given, or lots were cast. It means, that by the result of the lot he was reckoned as an apostle. Nothing further is related of Matthias in the New Testament. Where he laboured, and when and where he died, is unknown; nor is there any tradition on which reliance is to be placed. The election of Matthias throws some light on the organization of the church. (1.) He was chosen to fill the place vacated by Judas, and, for a specific purpose, to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. There is no mention of any other design. It was not to ordain men exclusively, or to rule over the churches, but to be a witness to an important fact. (2.) There is no intimation here that it was designed that there should be successors to the apostles in the peculiar duties of the apostolic office. The election was for a definite object, and was therefore temporary. It was to fill up the number originally appointed by Christ. When the purpose for which he was appointed was accomplished, the peculiar part of the apostolic work ceased, of course. (3.) There could be no succession in our times to the peculiar apostolic office. They were to be witnesses of the work of Christ. For this they were sent forth. And when the desired effect resulting from such a witnessing was accomplished, the office itself would cease. Hence there is no record that after this the church even pretended to appoint successors to the apostles to discharge their peculiar work. And hence no minister of the gospel can now pretend to be their successors in the peculiar and original design of the appointment of the apostles. (4.) The only other apostle mentioned in the New Testament is the apostle Paul, not appointed as the successor of the others, not with any peculiar design except to be an apostle to the Gentiles, as the others were to the Jews, and appointed for the same end, to testify that Jesus Christ was alive, and that he had seen him after he rose, 1Cor 15:8, 9:1 Acts 22:8,9,14,15, 9:15, 26:17,18. The ministers of religion, therefore, are successors of the apostles, not in their peculiar office as witnesses, but as preachers of the word, and as appointed to establish, to organize, and to edify and rule the churches. The peculiar Work of the apostleship ceased with their death. The ordinary work of the ministry, which they held in common with all others who preach the gospel, will continue to the end of time.
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