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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 4 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Neither is there salvation. The word salvation properly denotes any preservation, or keeping anything in a safe state; a preserving it from harm. It signifies, also, deliverance from any evil of body or mind; from pain, sickness, danger, etc., Ac 7:25. But it is in the New Testament applied particularly to the work which the Messiah came to do, "to seek and to save that which was lost," Lu 19:10. This work refers primarily to a deliverance of the soul from sin, Mt 1:21; Ac 5:31; Lu 4:18; Ro 8:21; Ga 5:1.

It then denotes, as a consequence of freedom from sin, freedom from all the ills to which sin exposes man, and the attainment of that perfect peace and joy which shall be bestowed on the children of God in the heavens. The reasons why Peter introduces this subject here seem to be these: (1.) He was discoursing of the deliverance of the man that was healed—his salvation from a long and painful calamity. This deliverance had been accomplished by the power of Jesus. The mention of this suggested that greater and more important salvation from sin and death which it was the object of the Lord Jesus to effect. As it was by his power that this man had been healed, so it was by his power only that men could be saved from death and hell. Deliverance from any temporal calamity should lead the thoughts to that higher redemption which the Lord Jesus contemplates in regard to the soul.

(2.) This was a favourable opportunity to introduce the doctrines of the gospel to the notice of the great council of the nation. The occasion invited to it; the mention of a part of the work of Jesus invited to a contemplation of his whole work. Peter would not have done justice to the character and work of Christ, if he had not introduced that great design which he had in view to save men from death and hell. It is probable, also, that he advanced a sentiment in which he expected they would immediately concur, and which accorded with their well-known opinions, that salvation was to be obtained only by the Messiah. Thus Paul Ac 26:22,23 says that he taught nothing else than what was delivered by Moses and the prophets, etc. Comp. Ac 23:6; 26:6. The apostles did not pretend to proclaim any doctrine which was not delivered by Moses and the prophets, and which did not in fact constitute a part of the creed of the Jewish nation.

In any other. Any other person. He does not mean to say that God is not able to save, but that the salvation of the human family is entrusted to the hands of Jesus the Messiah.

For there is none other name. This is an explanation of what he had said in the previous part of the verse. The word name here is used to denote the person himself; there is no other being, or person. As we should say, there is no one who can save but Jesus Christ. The word name is often used in this sense. See Barnes "Ac 3:6,16".

That there is no other Saviour, or Mediator between God and man, is abundantly taught in the New Testament; and it is indeed the main design of revelation to prove this. See 1 Ti 2:5,6; Ac 10:43.

 

Under heaven. This expression does not materially differ from the one immediately following, "among men." They are designed to express with emphasis the sentiment that salvation is to be obtained in Christ alone, and not in any patriarch, or prophet, or teacher, or king, or in any false Messiah.

Given. In this word it is implied that salvation has its origin in God; that a Saviour for men must be given by him; and that salvation cannot be originated by any power among men. The Lord Jesus is thus uniformly represented as given, or appointed by God for this great purpose, Joh 3:16; 17:4; 1 Co 3:5; Ga 1:4; 2:20; Eph 1:22; 5:25; 1 Ti 2:6; Ro 5:15-18; 6:23

and hence Christ is called the "unspeakable gift" of God, 2 Co 9:15.

Whereby we must be saved. By which it is fit, or proper —dei— that we should be saved. There is no other way of salvation that is adapted to the great object contemplated; and therefore, if saved, it must be in this way, and by this plan. All other schemes by men's own devices are not adapted to the purpose, and therefore cannot save. The doctrine that men can be saved only by Jesus Christ is abundantly taught in the Scriptures. To show the failure of all other schemes of religion was the great design of the first part of the Epistle to the Romans. By a laboured argument Paul there shows Ro 1 that the Gentiles had failed in their attempt to justify themselves; and in Ro 2, Ro 3, that the same thing was true also of the Jews. If both these schemes failed, then there was need of some other plan; and that plan was that of salvation by Jesus Christ. If it be asked, then, whether this affirmation of Peter is to be understood as having respect to infants and the heathen, we may remark,

(1.) that his design was primarily to address the Jews, "Whereby we must be saved." But

(2) the same thing is doubtless true of others. If, as Christians generally believe, infants are saved, there is no absurdity in supposing that it is by the merits of the atonement. But for that, there would have been no promise of salvation. No offer has been made except by the Mediator; and to him doubtless is to be ascribed all the glory of raising up even those in infancy to eternal life. If any of the heathen are to be saved, as most Christians suppose, and as seems in accordance with the mercy of God, it is no less certain that it will be in consequence of the intervention of Christ. Those who will be brought to heaven will sing one song, Re 5:9, and be prepared for eternal union in the service of God in the skies. Still, the Scriptures have not declared that great numbers of the heathen will be saved, who have not the gospel. The contrary is more than implied in the New Testament, Ro 2:12. Neither has the Scripture affirmed that all the heathen shall certainly be cut off. It has been discovered by missionaries among the heathen that individuals have, in a remarkable way, been convinced of the folly of idolatry, and were seeking a better religion; that their minds were in a serious, thoughtful, inquiring state, and that they at once embraced the gospel when it was offered to them, as exactly adapted to their state of mind, and meeting their inquiries. Such was extensively the case in the Sandwich Islands; and the following instance recently occurred in this country: "The Flat-head Indians living west of the Rocky Mountains, recently sent a deputation to the white settlements to inquire after the Bible. The circumstance that led to this singular movement is as follows: It appears that a white man (Mr. Catlin) had penetrated into their country, and happened to be a spectator at one of their religious ceremonies. He informed them that their mode of worshipping the Supreme Being was radically wrong, and that the people away towards the rising of the sun had been put in possession of the true mode of worshipping the Great Spirit. On receiving this information, they called a national council to take this subject into consideration. Some said, If this be true, it is certainly high time we were put in possession of this mode. They accordingly deputed four of the chiefs to proceed to St. Louis, to see their great father, general Clark, to inquire of him the truth of this matter. They were cordially received by the general, who gave them a succinct history of Revelation, and the necessary instruction relative to their important mission. Two of them sunk under the severe toils attending a journey of three thousand miles. The remaining two, after acquiring what knowledge they could of the Bible, its institutions and precepts, returned to carry back those few rays of Divine light to their benighted countrymen." In what way their minds were led to this state we cannot say; or how this preparation for the gospel was connected with the agency and merits of Christ, we perhaps cannot understand. But we know that the affairs of this entire world are placed under the control of Christ, Joh 17:2; Eph 1:21,22, and that the arrangements of events by which they were brought to this state of mind are in his hands. Another remark may here be made: it is, that it often occurs that blessings come upon us from benefactors whom we do not see, and from sources which we cannot trace. On this principle we receive many of the mercies of life; and from anything that appears, in this way many blessings of salvation may be conferred on the world, and possibly many of the heathen be saved. Still, this view does not interfere with the command of Christ to preach the gospel, Mr 16:15. The great mass of the heathen are not in this state: and this fact, so far as it goes, is an encouragement to preach the gospel to the entire world. If Christ thus prepares the way; if he extensively fits the minds of the heathen for the reception of the gospel; if he shows them the evil and folly of their own system, and leads them to desire a better, then this should operate not to produce indolence, but activity, and zeal, and encouragement to enter into the field white for the harvest, and to toil that all who seek the truth, and are prepared to embrace the gospel, may be brought to the light of the Sun of righteousness.

{c} "for there is" Ac 10:43; 1 Ti 2:5,6

{d} "other name" Ps 45:17

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