27. For those which dwelt in Jerusalem, and their rulers, seeing that they knew him not, neither the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day; when they had condemned him, they fulfilled them. 28. And when they found no cause of death in him, they desired Pilate that he would crucify him. 29. And after that they had fulfilled all things which were written of him, when they had taken him down from the tree, they put him in a tomb. 30. But God raised him up from the dead. 31. Who appeared many days to those which went up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people.
27. He doth wisely, and in due time, prevent an offense which might have been a great hindrance to their faith, [men's faith.] For Jerusalem was God's sanctuary, the king's seat, the fountain of truth, and the light of the whole world; but Christ was put to death there. Furthermore, nothing could seem more absurd to look to than to receive him who was cast out of the temple of God; and to seek the doctrine of salvation any where else than there whence God himself had testified it should come. Moreover, by believing in Christ, they seemed to make a departure from the Church; and, therefore, this one objection was strong enough to refute all Paul's sermon, Why dost thou force upon us, under color of God's covenant, a man whom the principal part of the holy people condemned? This objection doth Paul answer, lest it hinder the course of the gospel; and not that only, but he turneth it also to the contrary part; for seeing that the author of life was despised and rejected at Jerusalem, Paul exhorteth the men of Antioch, at least those who among them feared God, that they receive him so much the more joyfully; for this doth the causal word declare, as if he should have said, Seeing that Jerusalem knew not her good, it behoveth you to be the more awakened and inflamed, lest the same unthankfulness and forwardness be found in you.
But he useth another reason to remove the offense, to wit, that their ungodliness was so far from diminishing any whit of Christ's divine excellency, that it ought rather to serve to prove and establish the same, for whereby doth Christ better appear than because all that was fulfilled in him which had been foretold in the law and prophets? (Luke 24:25, 26.) Furthermore, what got the enemies of Christ, save only that in him shined the plain truth of the Scripture? It must needs be that Christ should be rejected of the chief, for it was so foretold,
"The stone which the builders refused hath
God made the head of the corner," (Psalm 118:22.)
Christ must needs have been condemned among the wicked, that he might acquit us before God; it was expedient that sins should be laid upon him, that he might make satisfaction for the same; that he should be offered upon the cross, that the shadowish sacrifices of the law might cease; for even the Scripture contained these things, (Isaiah 53:4, 5; Daniel 9:26.)
Therefore, the more violently the captains of the people sought to extinguish Christ, they did in very deed prove him to be Christ, and the Lord did wonderfully deceive [frustrate] them, so that their obstinate impiety doth more edify the faith of the godly than destroy it. Of the same sort are almost all offenses which lead away weak and inconstant souls from Christ; for if they would thoroughly ponder the whole process of the work of God, there should be matter of confirmation where they faint. Therefore it cometh to pass, for the most part, that 1 we be troubled with offenses and stumbling-blocks, because, whilst we behold those things which belong to Christ with purblind eyes, 2 we imagine that to be black which is white; and we see how far Paul is from dissimulation, and how freely 3 he professeth the truth of the matter, that Christ was hated not only of the common sort, but also of the chief chieftains; and that he was not hissed at by a few, but oppressed by the wicked conspiracy of all the people. That was hard and hateful at the first conflict; but Paul opposeth a more strong engine, that God used them against their wills as a touchstone, whereby he might try his Son. Seeing that the gospel standeth in the same state at this day, let us not be ashamed, with Paul, to confess that the proud princes of the world, and those who bear the greatest sway in the Church, are the deadly enemies of Christ, seeing that doth rather turn to Christ's praise than reproach; for by this means is the Scripture fulfilled.
For the Jews are not therefore excusable, because they fulfilled the Scriptures; because we must consider their wicked will, and not the event, which they did not look for, yea, which ought to be counted a miracle. If we look into their work by itself, it is quite contrary to God; but as God doth, in the sun and other planets, by wonderful cunning, temper contrary motions, and such as strive among themselves, so he directeth the perverse endeavors of the wicked, by his secret power, unto another end than they thought upon and did desire, lest they should do any thing but that which he would. They, indeed, as touching themselves, do contrary to his will; but it falleth out according to the will of God after an incomprehensible manner. Forasmuch as this course is contrary to nature, no marvel if the wisdom of the flesh see it not. Therefore, it must be discerned with the eye of faith, or rather it must be reverenced; and those dogs who bark against it must be despised with their wantonness. 7
31. After that he hath said that Christ came out of the grave, which was beset with the hired ministers of the adversaries, he addeth now that he appeared to many of the disciples, which bare faithful witness to the people. And he calleth them
1 "Nostra socordia," by our sluggishness.
2 "Torvis aut lusciosis," with stern or purblind eyes.
3 "Ingenue," ingenuously.
4 "Sicut alibi, quum dicit, absconditam esse mundi principibus evangelii sapientiam," as elsewhere, when he says, That the wisdom of the gospel was hid from the princes of the world, omitted.
5 "Larvatos Ecclesiae praesules," pretended prelates of the Church.
6 "Providentiae" the providence.
7 "Petulantla," petulance.
8 "Se adjungerent socios," join themselves as associates.
9 "Probe fuisse testatem," was well attested.