« AnteriorContinuar »
pear again to sit on the throne of David, as Peter seems to have expected; therefore there is no ground for applying this to him.
Acts iii. 22: "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you."
See remark on Luke xxiv. 27.
Acts iii. 24: "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25, Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed."
Some passages in Isaiah and Micah seem to point to a religious conversion of all mankind; but the general subjects of all the prophets are the distresses of Israel, and his future glory.
Acts iv. 25: "Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ (anointed). For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together."
The 2d Psalm appears to be a coronation ode, addressed to David, the Lord's anointed. A parallel passage is in Psalm lxxxix. 20: "I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him. . . . . 27, Also I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth."
Acts viii. The 53d chapter of Isaiah applied to Christ by Philip.
This will be considered in a separate chapter.
Acts x. 43: "To him (Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that
through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."
Nothing of this is to be found in any of the prophets.
Acts xiii. 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."
The only passage which appears to countenance the doctrine of a suffering Messiah, is, Dan. ix. 26: "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off." This admits of various readings; and the time cannot be made to agree with the death of Jesus. See chap. on Daniel.
Acts xiii. 32: "The promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my son ; this day have I begotten thee."
Since the Psalm contains no reference to Jesus (see note on Acts iv. 35), these words might be applied to any supposed instance of divine protection towards any person whatever, as well as to the resurrection of Christ.
Acts xiii. 34: "And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David."
Nathan the prophet promised David (2 Sam. vii. 15, 16), that the Lord's mercy should not depart from him as it did from Saul, and that his throne should be established for ever. But being raised from the dead, and maintaining the throne of David, are very different things; and it is not surprising that the Jews of Pisidia contradicted the things spoken by Paul.
Acts xv. 15: "And to this (the conversion of the Gentiles) agree the words of the prophets, as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down: and I will
build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up, that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth these things."
Amos ix. 11-12: "In that day" (on the return of Israel from among all nations) " will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen which are called by my name (or upon whom my name is called), saith the Lord, that doeth this." In Obadiah, 17—20, is a similar passage, with a list of the territories which Israel is to possess, viz. Edom, the Philistines, the field of Ephraim, of Samaria, Gilead, &c. It is probable, therefore, that Amos alluded to an increase of the dominion of Israel. The Apostle James (or Luke) has misquoted the prophecy, and made it to signify the conversion of the Gentiles to the religion of Jesus, to which meaning it could not have been strained, if he had quoted correctly.
Acts xvii. 2: "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them (the Jews of Thessalonica), and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead."
Ver. 28: "For he (Apollos) mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ."
These passages shew that the early Christians rested the proof of the Messiahship of Jesus mainly on the agreement of his character with the prophecies. We have seen that, in many of those quoted, there appears to be no agreement, and that in some cases they altered the prophecies. There is reason, then, to suspect that when in these public discourses they were hard pushed by the Jews, they might be tempted to make out the correspondence the other way, by altering the facts.
Acts xxvi. 22: "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue
unto this day saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come, that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles."
Acts xxvi. 27: "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets ?"
Paul again chooses to rest the truth of his preaching on prophecy. If we suppose that Paul used here also such arguments as this, that the texts, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee," and "I will give you the sure mercies of David," signified that Christ was raised from the dead, we cannot wonder that Festus should have thought that this kind of argument contained more learning than common sense.
Acts xxviii. 23: "And when they (the Jews of Rome) had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them, concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning until evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not."
From Paul's threat to turn to the Gentiles, it would seem that those who did not believe were the greater part. In an assembly of Jews, therefore, well disposed to examine the question fairly, his argument from prophecy failed.
And we need not be surprised that Paul failed, after thus examining the manner in which he and the other Apostles were accustomed to argue from prophecy. We see that they selected sentences from all parts of the Old Testament, tearing them from the context, and applying them, without regard to their original meaning, to the history of Jesus. If the words bore a resemblance in sound only, they were pressed into the service, and sometimes altered so as to adapt them to their new application. By this method, a large collection of writings, like the Old Testament, might afford a tolerable description
of any person whatever.
Nevertheless, it is not necessary to suppose that, in this misinterpretation, the Apostles pursued all along a system of intentional fraud. Very few of the Jews in their time attended so much to historical criticism as to be able to pronounce on the original meaning of all the prophetical parts of the Old Testament. Like many persons in our own time, they quoted them piecemeal, as if they were a collection of separate oracles. Jesus adapted some of his actions intentionally to the prophecies, and claimed to be the predicted Messiah: this put his followers upon seeking for more evidence of the same sort, and, thus biassed, they imagined that they discovered abundant coincidences. Afterwards, quoting from memory in their public discourses, they gave to the words the same turn which they had already given mentally to the sense; and, acquiring thus the habit of making out coincidences, they insensibly altered also their narratives of facts.*
* Basnage (Hist. of Jews, ch. xxvi.) gives an account of the notions of the Talmudists and Rabbis concerning the Messiah expected by the Jews. They are extremely confused and contradictory. The Rabbis agree that the prophets contain oracles relating to the Messiah, but that the particular oracles which indicate his coming cannot be distinguished. Some say they were fulfilled in the person of Hezekiah. Maimonides gives for the true character of the Messiah, that he shall overcome all nations and never die. Some acknowledge that all the terms fixed for the coming of the Messiah are past. Hillel, who lived in the century before Jesus Christ, said, "There is no more a Messiah for Israel; for they had a fruition of him in the time of Hezekiah." Nevertheless, the Jews generally expect confidently that he will still come, saying, that God hath put off the time of his coming on account of the sins of the people, and that he will appear when they repent. Some Rabbis maintain that there will be two Messiahs; the first the son of Joseph, called Nehemiah, with the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, will war successfully against the Romans, and recover the vessels of the sanctuary hid in the palace of the emperor Ju