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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 3 - Verse 19
Verse 19. Repent ye. Note, Mt 3:2.
Therefore. Because of your sin in putting Jesus to death; and because he is the Messiah, and God through him is willing to show mercy to the chief of sinners.
And be converted. This expression conveys an idea not at all to be found in the original. It conveys the idea of passivity—BE converted —as if they were to yield to some foreign influence that they were now resisting. But the idea of being passive in this, is not conveyed by the original word. The word means, properly, to turn; to return to a path from which one has gone astray; and then to turn away from sins, or to forsake them. It is a word used in a general sense to denote the whole turning to God. That the form of the word here epistreqate does not denote passivity may be clearly seen by referring to the following places, where the same form of the word is used: Mt 24:18; Mr 13:16; Lu 17:31; 1 Th 1:9.
The expression, therefore, would have been more appropriately rendered, "Repent, and turn, that your sins," etc. To be converted cannot be a matter of obligation; but to turn to God is the duty of every sinner. The crimes of which he exhorted them to repent were those pertaining to the death of the Lord Jesus, as well as all the past sins of their life. They were to turn from the course of wickedness in which they and the nation had been so long walking.
That your sins, etc. In order that your sins may be forgiven. Sin cannot be pardoned before man repents of it. In the order of the work of grace, repentance must always precede pardon. Of course, no man can have evidence that his sin is pardoned until he repents. Comp. Isa 1:16-20; Joe 2:13.
The expression, to blot out a name, is applied to expunging it from a roll, or catalogue, or list, as of an army, etc., Ex 32:32,33; De 9:14; 25:19; 29:20, etc. The expression, to blot out sins, is taken from the practice of creditors charging their debtors, and when the debt was paid, cancelling it, or wholly removing the record. The word used here properly refers to the practice of writing on tables covered with wax, and then by inverting the stylus, or instrument of writing, smoothing the wax again, and thus removing every trace of the record. This more entirely expresses the idea of pardoning than blotting does. It means wholly to remove the record, the charge, and every trace of the account against us. In this way God forgives sins.
When the times, etc. The word opwv, rendered "when," is commonly rendered that, and denotes the final cause, or the reason why a thing is done, Mt 2:23; 5:16,45, etc. By many it has been supposed to have this sense here, and to mean "repent—in order that the times of refreshing may come," etc. Thus Kuinoel, Grotius, Lightfoot, the Syriac version, etc. If used in this sense, it means that their repentance and forgiveness would be the means of introducing peace and joy. Others have rendered it in accordance with our translation, "when," meaning that they might find peace in the day when Christ should return to judgment; which return would be to them a day of rest, though of terror to the wicked. Thus Calvin, Beza, the Latin Vulgate, Schleusner, etc. The grammatical construction will admit of either, though the former is more in accordance with the usual use of the word. The objection to the former is, that it is not easy to see how their repenting, etc., should be the means of introducing the times of refreshing. And this, also, corresponds very little with the design of Peter in this discourse. That was to encourage them to repentance; to adduce arguments why they should repent, and why they might hope in his mercy. To do this, it was needful only to assure them that they were living under the times graciously promised by God, the times of refreshing, when pardon might be obtained. The main inquiry therefore is, what did Peter refer to by the times of refreshing, and by the restitution of all things? Did he refer to any particular manifestation to be made then; or to the influence of the gospel on the earth; or to the future state, when the Lord Jesus shall come to judgment? The idea which I suppose Peter intended to convey was this: "Repent, and be converted. You have been great sinners, and are in danger. Turn from your ways, that your sins may be forgiven." But then, what encouragement would there be for this? or why should it be done? Answer—" You are living under the times of the gospel, the reign of the Messiah, the times of refreshing. This happy, glorious period has been long anticipated, and is to continue to the close of the world; the period including the restitution of all things, and the return of Christ to judgment, has come; and is, therefore, the period when you may find mercy, and when you should seek it, to be prepared for his return." In this sense the passage refers to the fact that this time, this dispensation, this economy, including all this, had come, and they were living under it, and might and should seek for mercy. It expresses, therefore, the common belief of the Jews that such a time should come, and the comment of Peter about its nature and continuance. The belief of the Jews was that such times should come. Peter affirms that the belief of such a period was well founded—a time when mercy may be obtained. That time has come. The doctrine that it should come was well founded, and has been fulfilled. This was a reason why they should repent, and hope in the mercy of God. Peter goes on, then, to state further characteristics of that period. It should include the restitution of all things, the return of Christ to judgment, etc. And all this was an additional consideration why they should repent, and turn from their sins, and seek for forgiveness. The meaning of the passage may, therefore, be thus summed up: "Repent, since such times shall come; they are clearly predicted; they were to be expected; and you are now living under them. In these times; in this dispensation, also, God shall send his Son again to judge the world; and all things shall be closed and settled for ever. Since you live under this period, you may seek for mercy; and you should seek to avoid the vengeance due to the wicked, and to be admitted to heaven when the Lord Jesus shall return." Times of refreshing. The word rendered refreshing—anaquxewv—means, properly, the breathing, or refreshment, after being heated with labour, running, etc. It hence denotes any kind of refreshment—as rest, or deliverance from evils of any kind. It is used nowhere else in the New Testament, except that the verb is used in 2 Ti 1:16, "Onesiphorus oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain." He administered comfort to me in my trials. It is used by the LXX. in the Old Testament nine times: Ex 8:15, "But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite," i.e. cessation or rest from the plagues; Hos 12:8; Jer 49:31; Ps 69:11, etc. In no place in the Old Testament is the word applied to the terms of the gospel. The idea, however, that the times of the Messiah would be times of rest, and ease, and prosperity, was a favourite one among the Jews, and was countenanced in the Old Testament. See Isa 28:12, "To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing," etc. They anticipated the times of the gospel as a period when they should have rest from their enemies; a respite from the evils of oppression and war, and a period of great national prosperity and peace. Under the idea that the happy times of the Messiah had come, Peter now addresses them, and assures them that they might obtain pardon and peace.
Shall come. This does not mean that this period was still future, for it had come; but that the expectation of the Jews that such a Messiah should come was well founded. A remarkably similar construction we have concerning Elijah, (Mt 17:11,) "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore," etc.; that is, the doctrine that Elijah should come was true; though he immediately adds that it had already taken place, Mt 17:12. See Barnes "Mt 17:12.
From the presence of the Lord. Greek, "from the face of the Lord." The expression means that God was its author. From the face of the Lord, means from the Lord himself. Mr 1:2, "I send my messenger before thy face," i.e. before thee. Comp. Mal 3:1; Lu 1:76; 2:31.
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