《Whedon’s Commentary on the Bible - Acts》(Daniel Whedon)


Daniel Whedon was born in 1808 in Onondaga, N.Y. Dr. Whedon was well qualified as a commentator. He was professor of Ancient Languages in Wesleyan University, studied law and had some years of pastoral experience. He was editor of the Methodist Quarterly Review for more than twenty years. Besides many articles for religious papers he was also the author of the well-known and important work, Freedom of the Will. Dr. Whedon was noted for his incisive, vigorous style, both as preacher and writer. He died at Atlantic Highlands, N.J., June 8, 1885.

Whedon was a pivotal figure in the struggle between Calvinism and Arminianism in the nineteenth-centry America. As a result of his efforts, some historians have concluded that he was responsible for a new doctrine of man that was more dependent upon philosophical principles than scripture.

01 Chapter 1

Verse 1

1. The former treatise—Or narrative. That is, Luke’s Gospel.

Have I made—Rather, did I make.

Began—To this word Baumgarten, followed by Alford, assigns a meaning somewhat fanciful, yet pregnant with a rich truth. It assumes that the Gospel was Christ’s beginning of his mediatorial doings, and the Acts the great continuance: the former on earth, the latter in the heavens over the earth. The Gospel shows us Jesus terrene, the Acts, Christ celestial: the former as suffering, the latter as reigning. Hereby we see that our great Head, while allowing his Church to struggle amid trial and probation, does still overrule the whole; all to the good of his redeemed and his own glory. This brings into view the great number of instances in the Acts in which the transactions of the Church below are ascribed to the Lord of the Church above. So Baumgarten: “He it is, for instance, who again appoints the twelfth witness, (Acts 1:24;) who, after he himself has received the Spirit, sends him down from on high on his Church, (Acts 2:33;) who adds to his Church in Jerusalem, (Acts 2:47.) He it is who works miracles, both of healing and destruction, in testimony to his apostles’ preaching, (Acts 3:6; Acts 4:10; Acts 4:30; Acts 9:34; Acts 13:11; Acts 14:3; Acts 19:13.) To his dying martyr Stephen he reveals himself standing at the right hand of God, (Acts 7:55-56;) his angel speaks unto Philip, (Acts 8:26;) it is his Spirit that caught him away, (Acts 8:39;) he appears to Saul of Tarsus, (Acts 19:5; Acts 19:27; Acts 22:8; Acts 22:26;) his hand established the first Church among the Gentiles, (Acts 11:21;) his angel delivers St. Peter, (Acts 12:7; Acts 12:11; Acts 12:17;) his angel strikes the hostile Herod, (Acts 12:23;) he again it is who appears to St. Paul in the temple, and commits to him the conversion of the Gentiles, (Acts 22:17; Acts 22:21;) to him the apostles and brethren address themselves on the occasion of the first mission to the Gentiles, (Acts 13:2, cf. acts 5:47;) to him are the infant Churches commended, (Acts 14:23;) his Spirit prevents the apostolic missionaries from preaching in Bithynia, (Acts 16:7;) he calls them by the voice of the man of Macedonia into Europe, (Acts 16:10;) he opens the heart of Lydia and effects the first conversion in Europe, (Acts 16:14;) he comforts and encourages Paul at Corinth, (Acts 18:9-10;) he strengthens him in prison, and informs him of his journey to Rome, (Acts 23:11.) These interventions of Jesus, so numerous, express, and decisive, are a sufficient warrant for our regarding his ascension as essentially his really sitting on his throne. We are, therefore, fully justified in ascribing all to his influence, even in those instances where, without any express mention of his name, we are referred to the invisible world. In this way, therefore, we must consider the conversion of the Samaritans by miracles, (Acts 8:6-12;) the restoration to life of Tabitha, (Acts 9:36-42;) the vision of St. Peter, (Acts 10:10-16.) And in like manner in those passages, also, where the Holy Ghost is spoken of as the efficient cause, as, for example, Acts 13:2, we must bring before our minds the Lord himself, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, cf. Acts 16:6-7. And, also, in every mention of the name of God, as at Acts 27:23, we are to understand the person of Jesus, for, from Acts 1:22; Acts 4:30, we learn that God works by Him.” We recognise the fact thus beautifully expanded, but do not recognise it as implicitly embraced in this word began. Luke, we think, refers to this beginning as a great commencement; the continuance is implied in the word until; the termination is at the day in which he was taken up.

Do and teach—His miracles, and his discourses authenticated by his miracles.

HISTORICAL NOTE I.—As we have intimated in notes introductory to, and also upon, Luke 3:1, our Saviour was born under the reign of AUGUSTUS CESAR, who was succeeded, when Jesus was about seventeen years of age, by TIBERIUS.

TIBERIUS was the first of that line of imperial tyrants whose crimes hastened the downfall of the Roman Empire. It was during his reign that the manhood and ministry of our Saviour were passed, and in its eighteenth year took place the crucifixion. While his imperial crimes were contributing to the dissolution of society the Pentecostal Church was rising, destined by the Divine hand to reconstruct the modern civilization of Europe and of our own America. About the period of Stephen’s rise the hand of one of the court favourites relieved the world of the imperial monster, March 16, A.D. 36.

CALIGULA, his successor, ruled four years, signalizing his reign by a series of fooleries and cruelties disgraceful to history. It is a fact which curiously illustrates his character, that, while his real name was Caius, yet his nickname Caligula (Little Boots) became his permanent historical appellation. One of his freaks was a project of requiring worship to be paid to his statue throughout the Empire. This brought him into a fearful collision with the Jews, who were ready to sacrifice their own lives in mass rather than commit an act of idolatry so heinous. So intense was the concentration of their minds on this subject that for the time being they forgot to persecute the Christians, and the Church had a period of repose. This emperor fell by the hand of an assassin, January 24, A.D. 41, in the twenty-ninth year of his age. It was during the four years of this man’s imperial pranks that the most earnest man of any age, Saul of Tarsus, was passing through the solemn scenes of his persecution of the Christian Church, his conversion; his residence in Damascus and Arabia, and his return to Jerusalem. Such are the contrasts of history. (See Hist. Note II at Acts 9:31.)

Verse 2

2. He was taken up—The Rhemish version has it, he was assumpted; that is, into heaven by God the Father. So the ecclesiastical phrases, The assumption of the Virgins, the assumption of Moses, to express their supposed resurrection and ascension.

Through the Holy Ghost—Richly dwelling in himself; for in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and through its power he rose and ascended.

Had given commandments—Such as contained in Acts 1:4.

Verse 3

3. Showed himself alive—Gloriously and repeatedly displayed himself in his resurrection nature.

Infallible proofs—As Christ is the great miracle, so in him the resurrection is the central miracle apparent to men; and it was important, therefore, that this miracle should be sustained by infallible proofs. The evangelists record nine appearances of Jesus. In regard to Jesus’ risen body, see note on Luke 24:36.

Forty days—Compare note on Luke 24:44-45.

Between the Passover (when Christ was crucified) and the Pentecost were, inclusive, fifty days; during forty of which the various showings of himself took place, and the remaining ten days were the those days of Acts 1:15. Forty, seventy, and one hundred and twenty are the three primal sacred numbers multiplied by the decimal. See on Acts 1:15. Forty days according to Wordsworth, on this passage, is the period indicating “a probation before some great event;” that is, the completion of some preparatory stage. Such was the fact with Moses before the giving of the law, Exodus 24:18; Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 10:10; with Hebrew spies, Numbers 13:25; Numbers 14:34; with Elias, 1 Kings 19:8; with Nineveh, Jonah 3:4. And as the purification by the presentation of a male child in the temple required a period of forty days, so forty days was Jesus’ probation before he was presented, Luke 2:22; forty days his probationary temptation, Mark 1:13; and forty days his earthly resurrection stage before ascension. And this last forty days were the apostolic probation before the Pentecostal preparatories commenced.

Things pertaining—Doubtless fully and clearly as their advancement in knowledge allowed, yet not so successfully but that they asked the unwise question in Acts 1:6.

Kingdom of God—Not that a large body of new teachings was given, but the kingdom of God was the topic of all he did say.

Verse 4

1. The waiting at Jerusalem, Acts 1:4-5.

4. Not depart from Jerusalem—Though the disciples had already been in Galilee, and though Jerusalem was the most dangerous spot in the world for them, yet now they are there divinely imprisoned by the Lord’s word. And this for several reasons: 1. In Jerusalem Jesus had performed mighty works, had been rejected and slain, and just there it was fitting that his name should be first received and maintained; 2. In no place could the Pentecostal manifestation and other first displays of the power of the new religion so startle the attention of the nation as at its theocratic capital; 3.

As there the sacrifices had for ages been offered, and there the last sacrifice, namely, of the Lamb of God, so that was the true starting-point for the religion of the Cross. 4. All this accorded with the prophecy, Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.Isaiah 2:3.

Verses 4-26


From among the events of the forty days Luke selects those only now which are preparatory to the great manifestation at the Pentecost. For, just as the section of the Gospel immediately succeeding the introduction narrates the preparation for the advent of the Son; so this section presents the preparation for that great advent of the Spirit. Hence, we have here successively, 1. The command to wait at Jerusalem for the Pentecostal baptism, 4, 5; 2. The promise of the gift or charisma of power, 6-8; 3. The ascension, which was the necessary condition of the Spirit’s mission, 9-14, 4. The re-completion of the apostolic number, in order that the full twelve may receive the Pentecostal inauguration, 15-26.

Verse 5

5. And finally, together they must stay in order that together they may receive the one Pentecostal unction.

Promise of the Father—See notes on Luke 24:49; John 14:16-26, John 16:7-11. So called because predicted in the Old Testament as from God. See note on Acts 2:16; Joel 3:1-2.

5. Baptized with the Holy Ghost—Under the old dispensation it was the law, the type, the ritual, and the shadow that were prominent, and the Spirit was in the background; under the new, reversely, all these retreat into the background, and the Spirit is predominant. This is the dispensation not of the ritual but of the Spirit. Hence it must be inaugurated by a full and overwhelming manifestation of the Spirit, as the old was inaugurated by the physical splendour of Sinai. And if this dispensation be ever glorious in its realization, if it ever attain a latter-day glory worthy to be the antitype of which the Pentecost was the type, it must be by the power of the Spirit poured forth upon men of the advanced culture of the future.

Baptized— By a curious contradiction Lechler on this verse tells us that this baptism was an immersion, and yet on verse seventh calls it an outpouring. Now, no one would say that a shower, however copiously outpoured, immersed a man. Nor would the most inconsiderate reasoner say that the person was plunged into the Holy Ghost. The element is applied to the person, not the person to the element. Nor does the Greek preposition εν, in, reasonably imply immersion. Thus, the Greek Septuagint renders Ezekiel 16:9, “I washed thee with water, εν υδατι, and anointed thee in oil, εν ελαιω.” The Pentecostal baptism was certainly not by immersion.

Not many days hence—Though the days of delay of fulfilling the promise were to be not many, yet why so many? Why not the immediate charisma? The reasons may be several: 1. Their hearts must be trained by yet further experiences before they are fitted to become recipients of so wonderful an outpouring of the Spirit. Errors (like their question in Acts 1:6) must be corrected; trials like the last departure of their Lord must be endured; hours of earnest supplication (Acts 1:14) must be passed before their own hearts, minds, and wills are ready to co-operate freely, fully, and energetically with the Divine Spirit. 2. As we shall soon illustrate, the final departure of the Son was a requisite condition before the advent of the Spirit. 3. As it was at the Passover that the crucifixion was to take place, so the founding of the new Church must in the Divine order be placed at the Pentecost. An epochal event must have its epochal day.

Verse 6

2. The gift of power, Acts 1:6-8.

6. Come together—Not a second assembling different from Acts 1:4, but a furnishing of the apostles’ part at the same assembling.

Therefore—In consequence of his assurance that a stupendous blessing was in wait for them, they are stimulated to inquire unitedly whether the restoration of national sovereignty to Israel is included in it.