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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 10 - Verse 34
Verse 34. Then Peter opened his mouth. Began to speak, Mt 5:2.
Of a truth. Truly; evidently. That is, I have evidence here that God is no respecter of persons.
Is no respecter of persons. The word used here denotes the act of showing favour to one on account of rank, family, wealth, or partiality, arising from any cause. It is explained in Jas 2:1-4. A judge is a respecter of persons when he favours one of the parties on account of private friendship; or because he is a man of rank, influence, or power; or because he belongs to the same political party, etc. The Jews supposed that they were peculiarly favoured by God, and that salvation was not extended to other nations, and that the fact of being a Jew entitled them to this favour. Peter here says that he has learned the error of this doctrine. That a man is not to be accepted because he is a Jew, nor is he to be excluded because he is a Gentile. The barrier is broken down, the offer is made to all, and God will save all on the same principle—not by external privileges, or rank, but according to their character. The same doctrine is elsewhere explicitly stated in the New Testament, Ro 2:11; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25.
It may be observed here, that this does not refer to the doctrine of Divine sovereignty or election. It simply affirms that God will not save a man because he is a Jew; nor because he is rich, or learned, or of elevated rank; nor by any external privileges. Nor will he exclude any man because he is destitute of these privileges. But this does not affirm that he will not make a difference in their character, and then treat them according to their character; nor that he will not pardon whom he pleases, which is a different question. The interpretation of this passage should be limited strictly to the case in hand—to mean that God will not accept and save a man on account of external national rank and privileges. That by receiving some, and leaving others, on other grounds, he will not make a difference, is not anywhere denied. Comp. 1 Co 4:7; Ro 12:6. It is worthy of remark, further, that the most strenuous advocate for the doctrines of sovereignty and election in the New Testament—the apostle Paul—is also the one that laboured most to establish the doctrine that God was no respecter of persons; that is, that there was no difference between the Jews and Gentiles in regard to the way of salvation; that God would not save a man because he was a Jew, nor destroy a man because he was a Gentile. Yet, in regard to the whole race viewed as lying on a level, he maintained that God had a right to exercise the prerogatives of a sovereign, and to have mercy on whom he would have mercy. The doctrine may be thus stated:
(1.) The barrier, between the Jews and Gentiles was broken down.
(2.) All men thus were placed on a level—none to be saved by external privileges, none to be lost by the want of them.
and none had a claim on God.
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