The former treatise] In the original we have the superlative adjective used, but the idiom which speaks of the first of two is common to Greek with many other languages. An example is found 1Co_14:30. So Cicero, de Inventione, in his second book (chap, iii.) calls the former book primus liber.
treatise] The original (λόγος) indicates rather an inartistic narrative than a history. It is a book more like a piece of Herodotus than Thucydides.
have I made] Better, I made. The time is indefinite, and we have no warrant in the text for that closer union of the two books, in point of date, which is made by the language of the A. V.
Theophilus] Nothing is known of the person to whom St Luke addresses both his Gospel and the Acts, but the adjective “most excellent” applied to him in Luk_1:3 is the same which is used in addressing Felix in a letter and in a speech (Act_23:26; Act_24:3), and Festus (Act_26:25) in a speech; from which we are perhaps warranted in concluding that Theophilus was a person of rank, and it may be a Roman officer. Josephus uses the same word in addressing Epaphroditus, to whom he dedicates the account of his life (Vit. Josephi, ad fin.). The suggestion that Theophilus (= lover of God) is a name adopted by the writer to indicate any believer, is improbable. Such personification is unlike the rest of Scripture, and is not supported by evidence.
began] for the Gospel is not a history of all that Jesus did, but only an account of the foundations which He laid and on which the Church should afterwards be built So this book is still an account of what the Lord does and teaches from heaven.
to do and teach] As in the Gospel (Luk_24:19) the disciples call Jesus “a prophet mighty in deed and in word.” The acts and life spake first, and then the tongue.
Until the day – The 40th day after the resurrection, Act_1:3. See Luk_24:51.
In which he was taken up – In which he ascended to heaven. He was taken up into a cloud, and is represented as having been borne or carried to heaven, Act_1:9.
After that … – This passage has been variously rendered. The Syriac translates it, “After he had given commandment unto the apostles whom he had chosen by the Holy Spirit.” So also the Ethiopic version. Others have joined the words “through the Holy Spirit” to the phrase “was taken up,” making it mean that he was taken up by the Holy Spirit. But the most natural and correct translation seems to be what is in our King James Version.
Through the Holy Ghost – To understand this, it is necessary to call to mind the promise that Jesus made before his death, that after his departure, the Holy Spirit would descend to be a guide to his apostles. See Joh_16:7-11, and the notes on that place. It was to be his office to carry forward the work of redemption in applying it to the hearts of people. Whatever was done, therefore, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, was to be regarded as under the unique influence and direction of the Holy Spirit. Even the instructions of Jesus and his commission to the apostles, were to be regarded as coming within the department of the sacred Spirit, or within the province of his unique work. The instructions were given by divine authority, by infallible guidance, and as a part of the work which the Holy Spirit was sent down to accomplish. Under the direction and guidance of that Spirit the apostles were to go forth; by his aid they were to preach the gospel, to organize the church, to establish its order and its doctrines; and hence, the entire work was declared to be by his direction. Though in his larger and more mighty influences the Spirit did not descend until the day of Pentecost (Luk_24:49; compare Acts 2), yet, in some measure, his influence was imparted to the apostles before the ascension of Christ, Joh_20:22.
Had given commandments – Particularly the command to preach the gospel to all nations, Mat_28:19; Mar_16:15-19. It may be worthy of remark, that the word “commandments,” as a noun in the plural number, does not occur in the original. The single word which is translated, “had given commandments” is a participle, and means simply “having commanded.” There is no need, therefore, of supposing that there is reference here to any other command than to that great and glorious injunction to preach the gospel to every creature. That was a command of so much importance as to be worthy of a distinct record, as constituting the sum of all that the Saviour taught them after his resurrection.
The apostles – The eleven that remained after the treason and death of Judas.
Whom he had chosen – Mat_10:1-4; Luk_6:12-16.
To whom also (hois kai). He chose them and then also manifested himself to these very same men that they might have personal witness to give.
Shewed himself alive (parestēsen heauton zōnta). To the disciples the first Sunday evening (Mar_16:14; Luk_24:36-43; Joh_20:19-25), the second Sunday evening (Joh_20:26-29), at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-23), on the mountain in Galilee (Mat_28:16-20; Mar_16:15-18; 1Co_15:6), to the disciples in Jerusalem and Olivet (Luk_24:44-53; Mar_16:19.; Act_1:1-11). Luke uses this verb paristēmi 13 times in the Acts both transitively and intransitively. It is rendered by various English words (present, furnish, provide, assist, commend). The early disciples including Paul never doubted the fact of the Resurrection, once they were convinced by personal experience. At first some doubted like Thomas (Mar_16:14; Luk_24:41; Joh_20:24.; Mat_28:17). But after that they never wavered in their testimony to their own experience with the Risen Christ, “whereof we are witnesses” Peter said (Act_3:15). They doubted at first, that we may believe, but at last they risked life itself in defence of this firm faith.
After his passion (meta to pathein auton). Neat Greek idiom, meta with the articular infinitive (second aorist active of paschō) and the accusative of general reference, “after the suffering as to him.” For pathein used absolutely of Christ’s suffering see also Act_17:3; Act_26:23.
By many proofs (en pollois tekmēriois). Literally, “in many proofs.” Tekmērion is only here in the N.T., though an old and common word in ancient Greek and occurring in the Koinéš (papyri, etc.). The verb tekmairō, to prove by sure signs, is from tekmar, a sign. Luke does not hesitate to apply the definite word “proofs” to the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ after full investigation on the part of this scientific historian. Aristotle makes a distinction between tekmērion (proof) and sēmeion (sign) as does Galen the medical writer.
Appearing (optanomenos). Present middle participle from late verb optanō, late Koinéš verb from root optō seen in opsomai, ōphthēn. In lxx, papyri of second century b.c. (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 83). Only here in the N.T. For optasia for vision, see note on Act_26:19; Luk_1:22; Luk_24:23.
By the space of forty days (di’ hēmerōn tesserakonta). At intervals (dia, between) during the forty days, ten appearances being known to us. Jesus was not with them continually now in bodily presence. The period of forty days is given here alone. The Ascension was thus ten days before Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came. Moses was in the mount forty days (Exo_24:18) and Jesus fasted forty days (Mat_4:2). In the Gospel of Luke 24 this separation of forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension is not drawn.
The things concerning the Kingdom of God (ta peri tēs basileias tou theou). This phrase appears 33 times in Luke’s Gospel, 15 times in Mark, 4 times in Matthew who elsewhere has “the kingdom of heaven,” once in John, and 6 times in Acts. No essential distinction is to be drawn between the two for the Jews often used “heaven” rather than “God” to avoid using the Tetragrammaton. But it is noticeable how the word kingdom drops out of Acts. Other words like gospel (euaggelion) take the place of “kingdom.” Jesus was fond of the word “kingdom” and Luke is fond of the idiom “the things concerning” (ta peri). Certainly with Jesus the term “kingdom” applies to the present and the future and covers so much that it is not strange that the disciples with their notions of a political Messianic kingdom (Act_1:6) were slow to comprehend the spiritual nature of the reign of God.
To whom – he showed himself alive – by many infallible proofs – Πολλοις τεκμηριοις; by many proofs of such a nature, and connected with such circumstances, as to render them indubitable; for this is the import of the Greek word τεκμηριον. The proofs were such as these:
1. Appearing to several different persons at different times.
2. His eating and drinking with them.
3. His meeting them in Galilee according to his own appointment.
4. His subjecting his body to be touched and handled by them.
5. His instructing them in the nature and doctrines of his kingdom.
6. His appearing to upwards of five hundred persons at once, 1Co_15:6. And,
7. Continuing these public manifestations of himself for forty days.
The several appearances of Jesus Christ, during the forty days of his sojourning with his disciples, between his resurrection and ascension, are thus enumerated by Bishop Pearce:
The first was to Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, Mat_28:1-9.
The second, to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, Luk_24:15.
The third, to Simon Peter, Luk_24:34.
The fourth, to ten of the apostles, Thomas being absent, Luk_24:36, and Joh_20:19.
(All these four appearances took place on the day of his resurrection.)
The fifth was to the eleven disciples, Thomas being then with them, Joh_20:26.
The sixth, to seven of the apostles in Galilee, at the sea of Tiberias, Joh_21:4.
The seventh, to James, 1Co_15:7, most probably in Jerusalem, and when Jesus gave an order for all his apostles to assemble together, as in Act_1:4.
The eighth, when they were assembled together, and when he led them unto Bethany, Luk_24:50, from whence he ascended to heaven. But see the note on Joh_21:14, for farther particulars.
Pertaining to the kingdom of God – Whatever concerned the doctrine, discipline, and establishment of the Christian Church.
Being assembled together with them (sunalizomenos). Present passive participle from sunalizō, an old verb in Herodotus, Xenophon, etc., from sun, with, and halizō, from halēs, crowded. The margin of both the Authorized and the Revised Versions has “eating with them” as if from sun and hals (salt). Salt was the mark of hospitality. There is the verb halisthēte en autōi used by Ignatius Ad Magnes. X, “Be ye salted in him.” But it is more than doubtful if that is the idea here though the Vulgate does have convescens illis “eating with them,” as if that was the common habit of Jesus during the forty days (Wendt, Feine, etc.). Jesus did on occasion eat with the disciples (Luk_24:41-43; Mar_16:14).
To wait for the promise of the Father (perimenein tēn epaggelian tou patros). Note present active infinitive, to keep on waiting for (around, peri). In the Great Commission on the mountain in Galilee this item was not given (Mat_28:16-20). It is the subjective genitive, the promise given by the Father (note this Johannine use of the word), that is the Holy Spirit (“the promise of the Holy Spirit,” objective genitive).
Which ye heard from me (hēn ēkousate mou). Change from indirect discourse (command), infinitives chōrizesthai and perimenein after parēggeilen to direct discourse without any ephē (said he) as the English (Italics). Luke often does this (oratior ariata). Note also the ablative case of mou (from me). Luke continues in Act_1:5with the direct discourse giving the words of Jesus.
5.] The Lord cites these words from the mouth of John himself, reff. Matt.;—and thus announces to them that, as John’s mission was accomplished in baptizing with water, so now the great end of His own mission, the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, was on the point of being accomplished. Calvin remarks, that He speaks of the Pentecostal effusion as being the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, because it was a great representation on the whole Church of the subsequent continued work of regeneration on individuals: ‘Quasi totius Ecclesiæ communis baptismus.’ I may add, also because it was the beginning of a new period of spiritual influence, totally unlike any which had preceded. See ch. Act_2:17.
They therefore (hoi men oun). Demonstrative use of hoi with men oun without any corresponding de just as in Act_1:1 men occurs alone. The combination men oun is common in Acts (27 times). Cf. Luk_3:18. The oun is resumptive and refers to the introductory (Act_1:1-5), which served to connect the Acts with the preceding Gospel. The narrative now begins.
Asked (ērōtōn). Imperfect active, repeatedly asked before Jesus answered.
Lord (kurie). Here not in the sense of “sir” (Mat_21:30), but to Jesus as Lord and Master as often in Acts (Act_19:5, Act_19:10, etc.) and in prayer to Jesus (Act_7:59).
Dost thou restore (ei apokathistaneis). The use of ei in an indirect question is common. We have already seen its use in direct questions (Mat_12:10; Luk_13:23 which see note for discussion), possibly in imitation of the Hebrew (frequent in the lxx) or as a partial condition without conclusion. See also Act_7:1; Act_19:2; Act_21:37; Act_22:25. The form of the verb apokathistanō is late (also apokathistaō) omega form for the old and common apokathistēmi, double compound, to restore to its former state. As a matter of fact the Messianic kingdom for which they are asking is a political kingdom that would throw off the hated Roman yoke. It is a futuristic present and they are uneasy that Jesus may yet fail to fulfil their hopes. Surely here is proof that the eleven apostles needed the promise of the Father before they began to spread the message of the Risen Christ. They still yearn for a political kingdom for Israel even after faith and hope have come back. They need the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 14-16) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Act_1:4.).
It is not for you to know – The question of the apostles respected the time of the restoration; it was not whether he would do it. Accordingly, his answer meets precisely their inquiry; and he tells them in general that the time of the great events of God’s kingdom was not to be understood by them. They had asked a similar question on a former occasion, Mat_24:3, “Tell us when shall these things be?” Jesus had answered them then by showing them that certain signs would precede his coming, and then by saying Mat_24:36, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” God has uniformly reproved a vain curiosity on such points, 1Th_5:1-2; 2Pe_3:10; Luk_12:39-40.
The times or the seasons – The difference between these words is, that the former denotes any time or period that is indefinite or uncertain; the later denotes a fixed, definite, or appropriate time. They seem to be used here to denote the periods that would mark or determine all future events.
The Father hath put … – So entirely had the Father reserved the knowledge of these to himself, that it is said that even the Son did not know them. See Mar_3:32, and the notes on that place.
In his own power – That is, he has fixed them by his own authority, he will bring them about in his own time and way; and therefore it is not proper for people anxiously to inquire into them. All prophecy is remarkably obscure in regard to the time of its fulfillment. The reasons why it is so are such as the following:
(1) To excite people to watch for the events that are to come, as the time is uncertain, and they will come “like a thief in the night.”
(2) As they are to be brought about by human agency, they are so arranged as to call forth that agency. If people knew just when an event was to come to pass, they might be remiss, and feel that their own efforts were not needed.
(3) The knowledge of future scenes of the exact time, might alarm people, and absorb their thoughts so entirely as to prevent a proper attention to the present duties of life. Duty is ours now; God will provide for future scenes.
(4) Promises sufficiently clear and full are therefore given us to encourage us, but not so full as to excite a vain and idle curiosity. All this is eminently true of our own death, one of the most important future scenes through which we are to pass. It is certainly before us; it is near; it cannot be long delayed; it may come at any moment. God has fixed the time, but will not inform us when it shall be. He does not gratify a vain curiosity; nor does he terrify us by announcing to us the day or the hour when we are to die, as we do a man that is to be executed. This would be to make our lives like that of a criminal sentenced to die, and we should through all our life, through fear of death, be subject to bondage, Heb_2:15. He has made enough known to excite us to make preparation, and to be always ready, having our loins girt about and our lamps trimmed and burning, Luk_12:35.
It is not for you, &c.] During the tutelage, as it may be called, of His disciples, our Lord constantly avoided giving a direct answer to enquiries which they addressed to Him. He checked in this way their tendency to speculate on the future, and drew their minds to their duty in the present. Cp. Joh_21:21-22.
in his own power] The word here rendered power is not the same as that so rendered in the following verse. The sense of this first word is “absolute disposal,” and we might well render it authority.
Power (dunamin). Not the “power” about which they were concerned (political organization and equipments for empire on the order of Rome). Their very question was ample proof of their need of this new “power” (dunamin), to enable them (from dunamai, to be able), to grapple with the spread of the gospel in the world.
When the Holy Ghost is come upon you (epelthontos tou hagiou pneumatos eph’ humas). Genitive absolute and is simultaneous in time with the preceding verb “shall receive” (lēmpsesthe). The Holy Spirit will give them the “power” as he comes upon them. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit referred to in Act_1:5.
My witnesses (mou martures). Correct text. “Royal words of magnificent and Divine assurance” (Furneaux). Our word martyrs is this word martures. In Luk_24:48 Jesus calls the disciples “witnesses to these things” (martures toutōn, objective genitive). In Act_1:22 an apostle has to be a “witness to the Resurrection” of Christ and in Act_10:39 to the life and work of Jesus. Hence there could be no “apostles” in this sense after the first generation. But here the apostles are called “my witnesses.” “His by a direct personal relationship” (Knowling). The expanding sphere of their witness when the Holy Spirit comes upon them is “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (heōs eschatou tēs gēs). Once they had been commanded to avoid Samaria (Mat_10:5), but now it is included in the world program as already outlined on the mountain in Galilee (Mat_28:19; Mar_16:15). Jesus is on Olivet as he points to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost (last, eschatou) part of the earth. The program still beckons us on to world conquest for Christ. “The Acts themselves form the best commentary on these words, and the words themselves might be given as the best summary of the Acts” (Page). The events follow this outline (Jerusalem till the end of chapter 7, with the martyrdom of Stephen, the scattering of the saints through Judea and Samaria in chapter 8, the conversion of Saul, chapter 9, the spread of the gospel to Romans in Caesarea by Peter (chapter 10), to Greeks in Antioch (chapter 11), finally Paul’s world tours and arrest and arrival in Rome (chapter 11 to chapter 28).
While they beheld – While they saw him. It was of importance to state that circumstance, and to state it distinctly. It is not affirmed in the New Testament that they “saw him rise” from the dead, because the evidence of that fact could be better established by their seeing him after he was risen. But the truth of his “ascension to heaven” could not be confirmed in that manner. Hence, it was so arranged that he should ascend in open day, and in the presence of his apostles; and that not when they were asleep, or were inattentive to what was occurring, but when they were engaged in a conversation that’ would fix the attention, and even when they were looking upon him. Had Jesus vanished secretly, or had he disappeared in the night, the apostles would have been amazed and confounded; perhaps they would even have doubted whether they had not been deceived. But when they saw him leave them in this manner, they could not doubt that he had ascended to heaven, and that God approved his work, and would carry it forward. This event was exceedingly important:
(1) It was a confirmation of the truth of the Christian religion.
(2) It enabled the apostles to state distinctly where the Lord Jesus was, and at once directed their affections and their thoughts away from the earth, and opened their eyes on the glory of the scheme of religion they were to establish. If their Saviour was in heaven, it settled the question about the nature of his kingdom. It was clear that it was not designed to be a temporal kingdom. The reasons why it was proper that the Lord Jesus should ascend to heaven rather than remain on earth were:
(1) That he had “finished” the work which God gave him to do “on the earth” Joh_17:4; Joh_19:30, and it was proper that he should be received back to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, Joh_17:4-5; Phi_2:6, Phi_2:9-10.
(2) It was proper that he should ascend in order that the Holy Spirit might come down and perform his part of the work of redemption. Jesus, by his personal ministry, as a man, could be but in one place; the Holy Spirit could be in all places, and could apply the work to all people. See note on Joh_16:7.
(3) A part of the work of Christ was yet to be performed in heaven. That was the work of intercession. The high priest of the Jews not only made an atonement, but also presented the blood of sacrifice before the mercy-seat, as the priest of the people, Lev_16:11-14. This was done to typify the entrance of the great high priest of our profession into the heavens, Heb_9:7-8, Heb_9:11-12. The work which he performs there is the work of intercession, Heb_7:25. This is properly the work which an advocate performs in a court for his client. As applicable to Christ, the meaning is, that he, as our great high priest, still manages our cause in heaven; secures our interests; obtains for us grace and mercy. His work, in this respect, consists in his appearing in the presence of God for us Heb_9:24; in his presenting the merits of his blood Heb_9:12, Heb_9:14; and in securing the continuance of the mercy which has been bestowed on us, and which is still needful for our welfare. The Lord Jesus also ascended that he might assume and exercise the office of King in the immediate seat of power. All worlds were made subject to him for the welfare of the church; and it was needful that he should be solemnly invested with that power in the presence of God as the reward of his earthly toils. 1Co_15:25, “he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Compare Eph_1:20-22; Phi_2:6-11.
A cloud received him – He entered into the region of the clouds, and was hid from their view. But two others of our race have been taken bodily from earth to heaven. Enoch was transported (Gen_5:24; compare Heb_11:5); and Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind, 2Ki_2:11. It is remarkable that when the return of the Saviour is mentioned, it is uniformly said that he will return in the clouds, Act_1:11; Mat_24:30; Mat_26:64; Mar_13:26; Rev_1:7; Dan_7:13. The clouds are an emblem of sublimity and grandeur, and perhaps this is all that is intended by these expressions, Deu_4:11; 2Sa_22:12; Psa_97:2; Psa_104:3.
as he went up] The preposition is not in the Greek, which has simply, as he went.
in white apparel] They are called men, but they are evidently angels. So the two angels are clothed in white (Joh_20:12) whom Mary saw in the sepulchre after the Resurrection, and one of these is called by St Mark (Mar_16:5) “a young man clothed in a long white garment.” St Luke in the Gospel calls them “two men in shining garments” (Act_24:4). So the “man in bright clothing,” Act_10:30, is described in Act_11:13 as “an angel.” This was a common Jewish expression to signify angelic or divine messengers. Cf. Talm. Jer. Joma Act_1:2, ad fin.
“Shimeon ha-Tsaddik (i.e. the righteous) served Israel forty years in the High-priesthood, and in the last year he said to the people, ‘In this year I shall die.’ They said to him: ‘How dost thou know this?’ He said to them: ‘Every year when I was going into the Holy of Holies there was an Ancient one, clad in white garments and with a white vail, who went in with me and came out with me; but this year he went in with me and did not come out with me.’ [On this matter] they asked of Rabbi Abuhu, ‘But surely it is written: ‘Nothing of mankind shall be in the tent of meeting when he [the High-priest] goes in to make atonement until his coming out again,’ not even those concerning whom it is written [Eze_1:5] ‘They had the likeness of a man,’ even they shall not be in the tent of meeting.’ He said to them: ‘What is there [in this language of Shimeon] to tell me that it was a human being at all? I say it was the Holy One.”
Ye men of Galilee – Galilee was the place of their former residence, and they were commonly known by the name of Galileans.
Why stand ye … – There is doubtless a slight degree of censure implied in this, as well as a design to call their attention away from a vain attempt to see the departed Saviour. The impropriety may have been:
(1) In the feeling of disappointment, as if he would not restore the kingdom to Israel.
(2) Possibly they were expecting that he would again soon appear, though he had often foretold them that he would ascend to heaven.
(3) There might have been an impropriety in their earnest desire for the mere bodily presence of the Lord Jesus, when it was more important that he should be in heaven. We may see here also that it is our duty not to stand in idleness, and to gaze even toward heaven. We, as well as the apostles, have a great work to do, and we should actively engage in it without delay.
Gazing up – Looking up.
This same Jesus – This was said to comfort them. The same tried friend who had been so faithful to them would return. They ought not, therefore, to look with despondency at his departure.
Into heaven – This expression denotes into the immediate presence of God; or into the place of perpetual purity and happiness, where God especially manifests his favor. The same thing is frequently designated by his sitting on the right hand of God, as emblematic of power, honor, and favor. See the Mar_16:19; Mar_14:62 notes; Heb_1:3; Heb_8:1 notes; Act_7:55 note; Rom_8:34 note; Eph_1:20 note.
Shall so come – At the day of judgment. Joh_14:3, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,” etc.
In like manner … – In clouds, as he ascended. See the Act_1:9 note; 1Th_4:16 note. This address was designed to comfort the disciples. Though their master and friend was taken from them, yet he was not removed forever. He would come again with similar majesty and glory to vindicate his people, and to tread his enemies under his feet. The design for which he will come will be to judge the world, Matt. 25. There will be an evident fitness and propriety in his coming for such reasons as the following:
(1) Because his appropriate work in heaven as mediator will have been accomplished; his people will have been saved; the great enemy of God and man will have been subdued; death will have been conquered; and the gospel will have shown its power in subduing all forms of wickedness; in removing the effects of sin; in establishing the Law, and in vindicating the honor of God; and all will have been done that is necessary to establish the authority of God throughout the universe. It will be proper, therefore, that this mysterious order of things shall be wound up, and the results become a matter of record in the history of the universe. This will be better than it would be to suffer an eternal millennium on the earth, while the saints should many of them slumber, and the wicked still be in their graves.
(2) It is proper that he should come to vindicate his people, and raise them up to glory. Here they have been persecuted, oppressed, put to death. Their character is assailed; they are poor; and the world despises them. It is fit that God should show himself to be their friend; that he should do justice to their injured names and motives; that he should bring out hidden and obscure virtue, and vindicate it; that he should enter every grave and bring forth his friends to life.
(3) It is proper that he should show his hatred of sin. Here it triumphs. The wicked are rich, and honored, and mighty, and say, Where is the promise of his coming? 2Pe_3:4. It is right that he should defend his cause. Hence, the Lord Jesus will come to guard the avenues to heaven, and to see that the universe suffers no wrong by the admission of an improper person to the skies.
(4) The great transactions of redemption have been public, open, often grand. The apostasy was public, in the face of angels and of the universe. Sin has been open, public high-handed. Misery has been public, and has rolled its deep and turbid waves in the face of the universe. Death has been public; all worlds have seen the race cut down and moulder. The death of Jesus was public: the angels saw it; the heavens were clothed with mourning; the earth shook, and the dead arose. Jesus was publicly whipped, cursed, crucified; and it is proper that he should publicly triumph – that all heaven rejoicing, and all hell at length humbled, should see his public victory. Hence, he will come with clouds – with angels – with fire – and will raise the dead, and exhibit to all the universe the amazing close of the scheme of redemption.
(5) We have in these verses a description of the most grand and wonderful events that this world has ever known – the ascension and return of the Lord Jesus. Here is consolation for the Christian; and here is a source of ceaseless alarm to the sinner.