Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 2:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel - Bp. Pearce paraphrases the words thus: Him having been given forth; i.e. sent into the world, and manifested by being made flesh, and dwelling among you, as it is said in John 1:14; see also Acts 4:28.

Kypke contends that εκδοτον, delivered, does not refer to God, but to Judas the traitor "the Jews received Jesus, delivered up to them by Judas; the immutable counsel of God so permitting."

By the determinate counsel, ὡρισμενῃ βουλῃ ; that counsel of God which defined the time, place, and circumstance, according (προγνωσει ) to his foreknowledge, which always saw what was the most proper time and place for the manifestation and crucifixion of his Son; so that there was nothing casual in these things, God having determined that the salvation of a lost world should be brought about in this way; and neither the Jews nor Romans had any power here, but what was given to them from above. It was necessary to show the Jews that it was not through Christ's weakness or inability to defend himself that he was taken; nor was it through their malice merely that he was slain; for God had determined long before, from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8, to give his Son a sacrifice for sin; and the treachery of Judas, and the malice of the Jews were only the incidental means by which the great counsel of God was fulfilled: the counsel of God intending the sacrifice, but never ordering that it should be brought about by such wretched means. This was permitted; the other was decreed. See the observations at the end of this chapter.

By wicked hands have crucified and slain - I think this refers to the Romans, and not to the Jews; the former being the agents, to execute the evil purposes of the latter. It is well known that the Jews acknowledged that they had no power to put our Lord to death, John 18:31, and it is as well known that the punishment of the cross was not a Jewish, but a Roman, punishment: hence we may infer that by δια χειρων ανομων, by the hands of the wicked, the Romans are meant, being called ανομοι, without law, because they had no revelation from God; whereas the others had what was emphatically termed ὁ νομος του Θεου, the law of God, by which they professed to regulate their worship and their conduct. It was the Jews, therefore, who caused our Lord to be crucified by the hands of the heathen Romans.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Him, being delivered - ἔκδοτον ekdotonThis word, delivered, is used commonly of those who are surrendered or delivered into the hands of enemies or adversaries. It means that Jesus was surrendered, or given up to his enemies by those who should have been his protectors. Thus, he was delivered to the chief priests, Mark 10:33. Pilate released Barabbas, and delivered Jesus to their will, Mark 15:15; Luke 23:25. He was delivered unto the Gentiles, Luke 18:32; the chief priests delivered him to Pilate, Matthew 27:2; and Pilate delivered him to be crucified, Matthew 27:26; John 19:16. In this manner was the death of Jesus accomplished, by being surrendered from one tribunal to another, and one demand of his countrymen to another, until they succeeded in procuring his death. It may also be implied here that he was given or surrendered by God Himself to the hands of people. Thus, he is represented to have been given by God, John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10. The Syriac translates this, “Him, who was destined to this by the foreknowledge and will of God, you delivered into the hands of wicked men,” etc. The Arabic, “Him, delivered to you by the hands of the wicked, you received, and after you had mocked him you slew him.”

By the determinate counsel - The word translated “determinate” - τῇ ὡρίσμένῃ tē hōrismenē- mean, properly, “what is defined, marked out, or bounded; as, to mark out or define the boundary of a field,” etc. See Romans 1:1, Romans 1:4. In Acts 10:42, it is translated “ordained of God”; denoting His purpose that it should be so, that is, that Jesus should be the Judge of quick and dead; Luke 22:22, “The Son of man goeth as it is determined of him,” that is, as God has purposed or determined beforehand that he should go; Acts 11:29, “The disciples … determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea,” that is, they resolved or purposed beforehand to do it; Acts 17:26, “God … ‹hath determined‘ the times before appointed and fixed,” etc. In all these places there is the idea of a purpose, intention, or plan implying intention, and marking out or fixing the boundaries to some future action or evens. The word implies that the death of Jesus was resolved by God before it took place. And this truth is established by all the predictions made in the Old Testament, and by the Saviour himself. God was not compelled to give up his Son. There was no claim on him for it. He had a right, therefore, to determine when and how it should be done. The fact, moreover, that this was predicted, shows that it was fixed or resolved on. No event can be foretold, evidently, unless it be certain that it will take place. The event, therefore, must in some way be fixed or resolved on beforehand,

Counsel - βουλή boulēThis word properly denotes “purpose, decree, will.” It expresses the act of the mind in willing, or the purpose or design which is formed. Here it means the purpose or will of God; it was his plan or decree that Jesus should be delivered: Acts 4:28, “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel ἡ βουλή σου hē boulē soudetermined before to be done”; Ephesians 1:11, “Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”; Hebrews 6:17, “God willing … to show … the immutability of his counsel.” See Acts 20:27; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Luke 23:51. The word here, therefore, proves that Jesus was delivered by the deliberate purpose of God; that it was according to his previous intention and design. The reason why this was insisted on by Peter was that he might convince the Jews that Jesus was not delivered by weakness, or because he was unable to rescue himself. Such an opinion would have been inconsistent with the belief that he was the Messiah. It was important, then, to assert the dignity of Jesus, and to show that his death was in accordance with the fixed design of God, and therefore that it did not interfere in the least with his claims to be the Messiah. The same thing our Saviour has himself expressly affirmed, John 19:10-11; John 10:18; Matthew 26:53.

Foreknowledge - This word denotes “the seeing beforehand of an event yet to take place.” It implies:

1.Omniscience; and,

2.That the event is fixed and certain.

To foresee a contingent event, that is, to foresee that an event will take place when it may or may not take place, is an absurdity. Foreknowledge, therefore, implies that for some reason the event will certainly take place. What that reason As, however, God is represented in the Scriptures as purposing or determining future events; as they could not be foreseen by him unless he had so determined, so the word sometimes is used in the sense of determining beforehand, or as synonymous with decreeing, Romans 8:29; Romans 11:2. In this place the word is used to denote that the delivering up of Jesus was something more than a bare or naked decree. It implies that God did it according to his foresight of what would be the best time, place, and manner of its being done. It was not the result merely of will; it was will directed by a wise foreknowledge of what would be best. And this is the case with all the decrees of God. It follows from this that the conduct of the Jews was foreknown. God was not disappointed in anything respecting their treatment of his Son, nor will he be disappointed in any of the actions of people. Notwithstanding the wickedness of the world, his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure, Isaiah 46:10.

Ye have taken - See Matthew 26:57. Ye Jews have taken. It is possible that some were present on this occasion who had been personally concerned in taking Jesus, and many who had joined in the cry, “Crucify him, Luke 23:18-21. It was, at any rate, the act of the Jewish people by which this had been done. This was a striking instance of the fidelity of that preaching which says, as Nathan did to David, “Thou art the man!” Peter, once so timid that he denied his Lord, now charged this atrocious crime to his countrymen, regardless of their anger and his own danger. He did not deal in general accusations, but brought the charges home, and declared that they were the people who had been concerned in this amazing crime. No preaching can be successful that does not charge to people their personal guilt, and that does not fearlessly proclaim their ruin and danger.

By wicked hands - Greek: “through or by the hands of the lawless or wicked.” This refers, doubtless, to Pilate and the Roman soldiers, through whose instrumentality this had been done. The reasons for supposing that this is the true interpretation of the passage are these:

(1)The Jews had not the power of inflicting death themselves.

(2)the term used here, “wicked,” ἀνόμων anomōnis not applicable to the Jews, but to the Romans. It properly means lawless, or those who had not the Law, and is often applied to the pagan, Romans 2:12, Romans 2:14; 1 Corinthians 9:21.

(3)the punishment which was inflicted was a Roman punishment.

(4)it was a matter of fact that the Jews, though they had condemned him, yet had not put him to death themselves, but had demanded it of the Romans. But, though they had employed the Romans to do it, still they were the prime movers in the deed; they had plotted, and compassed, and demanded his death, and they were, therefore, not the less guilty. The maxim of the common law and of common sense is, “He who does a deed by the instrumentality of another is responsible for it.” It was from no merit of the Jews that they had not put him to death themselves. It was simply because the power was taken away from them.

Have crucified - Greek: “Having affixed him to the cross, ye have put him to death.” Peter here charges the crime fully on them. Their guilt was not diminished because they had employed others to do it. From this we may remark:

1. That this was one of the most amazing and awful crimes that could be charged to any people. It was malice, and treason, and hatred, and murder combined. Nor was it any common murder. It was their own Messiah whom they had put to death; the hope of their fathers; he who had been long promised by God, and the prospect of whose coming had so long cheered and animated the nation. They had now imbrued their hands in his blood, and stood charged with the awful crime of having murdered the Prince of Peace.

2. It is no mitigation of guilt that we do it by the instrumentality of others. It is often, if not always, a deepening and extending of the crime.

3. We have here a striking and clear instance of the doctrine that the decrees of God do not interfere with the free agency of people. This event was certainly determined beforehand. Nothing is clearer than this. It is here expressly asserted; and it had been foretold with undeviating certainty by the prophets. God had, for wise and gracious purposes, purposed or decreed in his own mind that his Son should die at the time and in the manner in which he did; for all the circumstances of his death, as well as of his birth and his life, were foretold; and yet in this the Jews and the Romans never supposed or alleged that they were compelled or cramped in what they did. They did what they chose. If in this case the decrees of God were not inconsistent with human freedom, neither can they be in any case. Between those decrees and the freedom of man there is no inconsistency, unless it could be shown - what never can be that God compels people to act contrary to their own will. In such a case there could be no freedom. But that is not the case with regard to the decrees of God. An act is what it is in itself; it can be contemplated and measured by itself. That it was foreseen, foreknown, or purposed does not alter its nature, anymore than it does that it be remembered after it is performed. The memory of what we have done does not destroy our freedom. “Our own purposes” in relation to our conduct do not destroy our freedom; nor can the purposes or designs of any other being violate one free moral action, unless he compels us to do a thing against our will.

4. We have here a proof that the decrees of God do not take away the moral character of an action. It does not prove that an action is innocent if it is shown that it is a part of the wise plan of God to permit it, Never was there a more atrocious crime than the crucifixion of the Son of God; and yet it was determined on in the divine counsels. So with all the deeds of human guilt. The purpose of God to permit them does not destroy their nature or make them innocent. They are what they are in themselves. The purpose of God does not change their character; and if it is right to push them in fact, they will be punished. If it is right for God to punish them, it was right to resolve to do it. The sinner must answer for his sins, not for the plans of his Maker; nor can he take shelter in the day of wrath against what he deserves in the plea that God has determined future events. If any people could have done it, it would have been those whom Peter addressed; yet neither he nor they felt that their guilt was in the least diminished by the fact that Jesus was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.”

5. If this event was predetermined; if that act of amazing wickedness, when the Son of God was put to death, was fixed by the determinate counsel of God, then all the events leading to it, and the circumstances attending it, were also a part of the decree. The one could not be determined without the other.

6. If that event was determined, then others may also be consistently with human freedom and responsibility. There can be no deed of wickedness that will surpass that of crucifying the Son of God, and if the acts of his murderers were a part of the wise counsel of God, then on the same principle are we to suppose that all events are under his direction, and ordered by a purpose infinitely wise and good.

7. If the Jews could not take shelter from the charge of wickedness under the plea that it was foreordained, then no stoners can do it. This was as clear a case as can ever occur; and yet the apostle did not intimate that an excuse or mitigation for their sin could be pled from this cause. This case, therefore, meets all the excuses of sinners from this plea, and proves that those excuses will not avail them or save them in the day of judgment.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
From this gift of the Holy Ghost, Peter preaches unto them Jesus: and here is the history of Christ. Here is an account of his death and sufferings, which they witnessed but a few weeks before. His death is considered as God's act; and of wonderful grace and wisdom. Thus Divine justice must be satisfied, God and man brought together again, and Christ himself glorified, according to an eternal counsel, which could not be altered. And as the people's act; in them it was an act of awful sin and folly. Christ's resurrection did away the reproach of his death; Peter speaks largely upon this. Christ was God's Holy One, sanctified and set apart to his service in the work of redemption. His death and sufferings should be, not to him only, but to all his, the entrance to a blessed life for evermore. This event had taken place as foretold, and the apostles were witnesses. Nor did the resurrection rest upon this alone; Christ had poured upon his disciples the miraculous gifts and Divine influences, of which they witnessed the effects. Through the Saviour, the ways of life are made known; and we are encouraged to expect God's presence, and his favour for evermore. All this springs from assured belief that Jesus is the Lord, and the anointed Saviour.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 41-2

In answer to the accusation of the priests Peter showed that this demonstration was in direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, wherein he foretold that such power would come upon men to fit them for a special work. “Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem,” he said, “be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” AA 41.1

With clearness and power Peter bore witness of the death and resurrection of Christ: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him ... ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.” AA 41.2

Peter did not refer to the teachings of Christ to prove his position, because he knew that the prejudice of his hearers was so great that his words on this subject would be of no effect. Instead, he spoke to them of David, who was regarded by the Jews as one of the patriarchs of their nation. “David speaketh concerning Him,” he declared: “I foresaw the Lord always before My face, for He is on My right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did My heart rejoice, and My tongue was glad; moreover also My flesh shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.... AA 41.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 221

This chapter is based on Acts 17:1-10.

After leaving Philippi, Paul and Silas made their way to Thessalonica. Here they were given the privilege of addressing large congregations in the Jewish synagogue. Their appearance bore evidence of the shameful treatment they had recently received, and necessitated an explanation of what had taken place. This they made without exalting themselves, but magnified the One who had wrought their deliverance. AA 221.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 194

The Saviour is still carrying forward the same work as when He proffered the water of life to the woman of Samaria. Those who call themselves His followers may despise and shun the outcast ones; but no circumstance of birth or nationality, no condition of life, can turn away His love from the children of men. To every soul, however sinful, Jesus says, If thou hadst asked of Me, I would have given thee living water. DA 194.1

The gospel invitation is not to be narrowed down, and presented only to a select few, who, we suppose, will do us honor if they accept it. The message is to be given to all. Wherever hearts are open to receive the truth, Christ is ready to instruct them. He reveals to them the Father, and the worship acceptable to Him who reads the heart. For such He uses no parables. To them, as to the woman at the well, He says, “I that speak unto thee am He.” DA 194.2

When Jesus sat down to rest at Jacob's well, He had come from Judea, where His ministry had produced little fruit. He had been rejected by the priests and rabbis, and even the people who professed to be His disciples had failed of perceiving His divine character. He was faint and weary; yet He did not neglect the opportunity of speaking to one woman, though she was a stranger, an alien from Israel, and living in open sin. DA 194.3

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 244-5

Peter showed them that this manifestation was the direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, wherein he foretold that such power would come upon men of God to fit them for a special work. SR 244.1

Peter traced back the lineage of Christ in a direct line to the honorable house of David. He did not use any of the teachings of Jesus to prove His true position, because he knew their prejudices were so great that it would be of no effect. But he referred them to David, whom the Jews regarded as a venerable patriarch of their nation. Said Peter: SR 244.2

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