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Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Lesson

Acts 13:27-31



27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.   28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.   29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.   30 But God raised him from the dead:   31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.  



[2.] That the rulers and people of the Jews, who should have welcomed him, and been his willing, forward, faithful subjects, were his persecutors and murderers. When the apostles preach Christ as the Saviour, they are so far from concealing his ignominious death, and drawing a veil over it, that they always preach Christ crucified, yea, and (though this added much to the reproach of his sufferings) crucified by his own people, by those that dwelt in Jerusalem, the holy city—the royal city, and their rulers, v. 27. First, Their sin was that though they found no cause of death in him, could not prove him, no, nor had any colour to suspect him, guilty of any crime (the judge himself that tried him, when he had heard all they could say against him, declared he found no fault with him), yet they desired Pilate that he might be slain (v. 28), and presented their address against Christ with such fury and outrage that they compelled Pilate to crucify him, not only contrary to his inclination, but contrary to his conscience; they condemned him to so great a death, though they could not convict him of the least sin. Paul cannot charge this upon his hearers, as Peter did (ch. ii. 23): You have with wicked hands crucified and slain him; for these, though Jews, were far enough off; but he charges it upon the Jews at Jerusalem and the rulers, to show what little reason those Jews of the dispersion had to be so jealous for the honour of their nation as they were, when it had brought upon itself such a load and stain of guilt as this, and how justly they might have been cut off from all benefit by the Messiah, who had thus abused him, and yet they were not; but, notwithstanding all this, the preaching of this gospel shall begin at Jerusalem. Secondly, The reason of this was because they knew him not, v. 27. They knew not who he was, nor what errand he came into the world upon; for, if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Christ owned this in extenuation of their crime: They know not what they do; and so did Peter: I wot that through ignorance you did this, ch. iii. 17. It was also because they knew not the voice of the prophets though they heard them read every sabbath day. They did not understand nor consider that it was foretold that the Messiah should suffer, or else they would never have been the instruments of his suffering. Note, Many that read the prophets do not know the voice of the prophets, do not understand the meaning of the scriptures; they have the sound of the gospel in their ears, but not the sense of it in their heads, nor the savour of it in their hearts. And therefore men do not know Christ, nor know how to carry it towards him, because they do not know the voice of the prophets, who testified beforehand concerning Christ. Thirdly, God overruled them, for the accomplishment of the prophecies of the Old-Testament: Because they knew not the voice of the prophets, which warned them not to touch God's Anointed, they fulfilled them in condemning him; for so it was written that Messiah the prince shall be cut off, but not for himself. Note, It is possible that men may be fulfilling scripture prophecies, even when they are breaking scripture precepts, particularly in the persecution of the church, as in the persecution of Christ. And this justifies the reason which is sometimes given for the obscurity of scripture prophecies, that, if they were too plain and obvious, the accomplishment of them would thereby be prevented. So Paul saith here, Because they knew not the voice of the prophets, therefore they have fulfilled them, which implies that if they had understood them they would not have fulfilled them. Fourthly, All that was foretold concerning the sufferings of the Messiah was fulfilled in Christ (v. 29): When they had fulfilled all the rest that was written of him, even to the giving of him vinegar to drink in his thirst, then they fulfilled what was foretold concerning his being buried. They took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. This is taken notice of here as that which made his resurrection the more illustrious. Christ was separated from this world, as those that are buried have nothing more to do with this world, nor this world with them; and therefore our complete separation from sin is represented by our being buried with Christ. And a good Christian will be willing to be buried alive with Christ. They laid him in a sepulchre, and thought they had him fast.

[3.] That he rose again from the dead, and saw no corruption. This was the great truth that was to be preached; for it is the main pillar, by which the whole fabric of the gospel is supported, and therefore he insists largely upon this, and shows,

First, That he rose by consent. When he was imprisoned in the grave for our debt, he did not break prison, but had a fair and legal discharge from the arrest he was under (v. 30): God raised him from the dead, sent an angel on purpose to roll away the stone from the prison-door, returned to him the spirit which at his death he had committed into the hands of his Father, and quickened him by the Holy Ghost. His enemies laid him in a sepulchre, with design he should always lay there; but God said, No; and it was soon seen whose purpose should stand, his or theirs.

Secondly, That there was sufficient proof of his having risen (v. 31): He was seen many days, in divers places, upon divers occasions, by those that were most intimately acquainted with him; for they came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, were his constant attendants, and they are his witnesses unto the people. They were appointed to be so, have attested the thing many a time, and are ready to attest it, though they were to die for the same. Paul says nothing of his own seeing him, which was more convincing to himself than it could be when produced to others.


[With gratitude to the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for this text.]