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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 1:12-16 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 42 secs

Peter's reasons for choosing a disciple. Acts 1:12 – 16


There are a lot of interesting things going on in this passage that we need to learn, and we need to learn them not only because they are going on in this chapter but it sets the stage for being able to intelligently understand what comes up in chapter two. Acts 2 is an enormously controversial chapter. How many actually spoke in tongues on that day? Was it 120 or just 12? When Peter explained it in 2:16 he said that this was what was spoken of by the prophet Joel. He seems to be identifying what happened on the day of Pentecost with Joel prophesied in Joel chapter three.

There are basically three answers to the question of what Peter meant. The first answer is that Peter is saying that this is precisely and exactly the fulfilment of what Joel said. The problem with that is nothing that Joel predicted happened on that day, and nothing that did happen was prophesied by Joel. But if you take that view and you understand Joel in context then Joel is talking about something that occurs just prior to or at the time of the day of the Lord, which the Old Testament describes as the time when the Lord is going to come and rescue Israel from national calamity as they seem to be on the edge of complete and total destruction. And then the Messiah will establish His kingdom on the earth and rule as the son of David literally from Jerusalem over all the nations. Cf. Psalms 2; 110. So if Acts 2 is talking about a literal fulfilment then that would mean that the kingdom has come. Those who say that the kingdom has come recognize that it is not physical, so they have to change the meaning of the kingdom from a physical kingdom to a spiritual kingdom. That is essentially the position of amillennialism—no literal thousand-year reign.

Then there is the view that some recognize that there are some things that happen in Acts 2 that don't quite fit Joel but in some sense this is fulfilling Joel, so in some sense the kingdom came, or it came partially, or it was inaugurated, but it is gradually coming in over the period of the age in which we live and it won't come in its fullness until Jesus returns. That view is called the already-not-yet view. That idea permeates lots of stuff that goes on in the church today.

Then there are the dispensationalists who say isn't a fulfilment at all, it is not fulfilment language at all, all Peter is saying is that this is like what Joel said. So it is important for us to understand what is meant in the New Testament when Old Testament passages are quoted.

Acts 1:15 NASB "At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said." He is taking a position of leadership. He, James and John were very much in the inner circle. They were the ones with whom Jesus spent most of His time, the ones he taught most in a more intimate environment.

Acts 1:16 NASB "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." The word "fulfilled" is the Greek word pleroo [plhrow], the typical word that is used in fulfilment passages. He is not really quoting a specific verse here but he is saying that David under inspiration of the Holy Spirit spoke about Judas. The question is: where in the Old Testament does it speak of Judas?

In 2 Peter he talks about the fact that they are not believing something that is a really slick, made-up story. That is one of the evidences that confirms the validity of the truth of the disciples. When Jesus was crucified they scattered to the four winds. The last thing in the world they wanted was to be identified with Jesus and to be put on a cross by the Romans. So they scattered, were afraid, and Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. What gave them the courage to come back together and, for Peter especially, on the day of Pentecost to preach such a tremendous message before everybody who was there in light of his cowardice at the time of the crucifixion? It is that they saw a man who was raised from the dead. Not only that but as Jesus opened their eyes to an understanding of the Old Testament and took them through it from Genesis to Malachi He showed them how all of the prophets spoke about Him. 

2 Pet 1:18 NASB "and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain." [19] {So} we have the prophetic word {made} more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts." This is an allusion to the future absent from the body and face to face with the Lord.

2 Pet 1:20 NASB But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is {a matter} of one's own interpretation." He is not talking about the reader making a private interpretation, he is talking about the prophet interpreting the information that God gave him. He is saying that the prophet did not interpret the revelation that God gave him on his own but he just gives it directly as God gave it to him. [21] for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." This is completely in accord with what the Old Testament teaches, the tests of a true prophet in Deuteronomy 13 and 18 which are very clear that a prophet spoke for God. That is why it was a death penalty offence if anybody said, "God told me to say this" or "God spoke to me" if they didn't fit the qualifications of those tests. The word there for moving is a word that is also used of the wind blowing or directing a sailing vessel on the water so that it is not under its own control but under the control of something else. So in Old Testament prophecy it is God overseeing or directing the thinking and the writing of the prophet so that they wrote was what God intended, and it guaranteed that what they wrote was without error.

When those writers of the Old Testament wrote they wrote within a context. They were not writing without reference to historical events or historical situations but they were writing in relation to things that were happening around them. So what they wrote had direct application to an immediate set of circumstances. But the things that were happening were sometimes designed by God in His sovereignty and oversight to have significance that went beyond the immediate understanding that the prophet had at that time or the immediate circumstances of history.

Over the last ten or fifteen years there have been a couple of significant dissertations written at major universities in England and Europe that have addressed the issue of how the rabbis in the first century, prior to the destruction of the second temple, handled Scripture. These dissertations have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the way that the rabbis prior to 70 AD quoted Scripture and handled Scripture was very different from what had become by the second century and even later and into the present era, the church age. What they discovered is that rabbinical exegesis and interpretation was tighter, much more consistent with what we refer to as literal interpretation of Scripture.

From writings from the period of time of the time of Jesus and just prior to that—the Talmud, Mishna, and various Midrash writings from that period—we can see that passages that Christians consistently take as messianic—Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2; 110; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 53; Daniel 9, etc.—were understood by rabbis at the time of Jesus to be specifically and literally referring to the coming of the Messiah, whereas by 1000 AD there were different shifts that took place in rabbinical interpretation that became much more allegorical. 

When most people sit down and read their Bibles and it says, "And this was fulfilled," they think it is this. But there are three other ways that "this was fulfilled" is used. So we think in a wrong literal way. This is not what literal interpretation means. Literal interpretation is often mischaracterized as some sort of wooden view that doesn't take into account usage, figures of speech, similes or idioms. This is obviously an idiomatic use and we find it in many places. It will say "It is fulfilled" four times in Matthew chapter two and only one of them has to do with a literal prophecy that it literally fulfilled.

The second kind is a literal historical event that has a typological fulfilment. The word "type" comes from the Greek word tupos [tupoj] which has to do with the mark of something. For example, you take a seal and press it into a soft wax that leaves a mark or impression that is the reverse of what is on the seal. So the seal is the antitype and the mark in the wax is the type. A typology is that God built into a number of different things in the Old Testament: various patterns or shadows, that would teach certain things about His plan and about the Messiah, so that when the Messiah came He would be easily identified. That is what a type is. It is not an application, it is a pattern recognition.

A couple of important prophecies related to the Messiah came out of these really bizarre prophecies made by Balaam. Balak the king of Moab has hired Balaam to curse Israel. But God won't let him do it. Four different times he tries to curse Israel and each time God gives him something else to say and he ends up saying what God wanted him to say, despite the fact that he was really trying to curse Israel. In these prophecies what is clear is that Israel as a collective whole is being used as a pattern for the Messiah. We have also seen that Israel as a collective whole and their experience with God is a pattern of the spiritual life for the church age believer, and that is true. But in this Israel is used in this context as a picture of the Messiah. 

Numbers 23:21 NASB "He [God] has not observed misfortune in Jacob; Nor has He seen trouble in Israel; The LORD his God is with him, And the shout of a king is among them." Notice the use of third person singular pronouns. In synonymous parallelism Jacob and Israel are parallel to each other. This is classic Hebrew poetry of synonymous parallelism where the second line repeats what is in the first line, with synonyms to give a full picture of what is being said. Jacob is not referring to the literal individual Jacob, it is referring to the nation Israel.

In verse 22 there is a shift from a singular pronoun to a plural pronoun. God brings "them" out of Egypt. "God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox." What we read in vv. 22 ff is that God brings them out of Egypt. A wild ox is extremely strong and powerful so this image is used of God and His power to protect Israel. Numbers 23:24 NASB "Behold, a people rises like a lioness, And as a lion it lifts itself; It will not lie down until it devours the prey, And drinks the blood of the slain." So for the people, the "him" and the "them" we referred to earlier, God's power protects them like a wild ox, and they are compared to a lioness. Another things to notice is that God says in this passage: "God brings them out of Egypt." That is the historical event of the Exodus.

In Numbers 24:7 we get into Balaam's third prophecy. NASB "Water will flow from his buckets, And his seed {will be} by many waters…" That has to do with the universal blessing of Israel. "…And his king [of Israel] shall be higher than Agag, And his kingdom shall be exalted." A lot of English version have "Agag" in this verse, and that is what is found in the Massoretic Text. Remember that in Hebrew originally there were no consonants, so all that was there was 'gg' which could be just about anything. The Massoretic scribes inserted the vowels here quite some time after the time of Christ and there was a tendency among the Massoretes and rabbis to remove messianic implications as much as they could. So if this is translated "Agag" it is fulfilled historically, 1 Samuel 16. But of this is Gog it is a reference to the future when the Messiah will defeat the future enemy of Israel, and in Ezekiel 38-39 it is identified as Gog. The fact that this is a messianic prophecy then is extremely clear, as it is in other parts of this particular prophecy. "And his kingdom shall be exalted" is the kingdom of the Messiah, He will rule over all of the nations.

Numbers 24:8 NASB "God brings him out of Egypt, He is for him [Not them as in the last chapter] like the horns of the wild ox. He will devour the nations {who are} his adversaries, And will crush their bones in pieces, And shatter {them} with his arrows." God is going to bring them out of Egypt. That is the historical event. Hosea would have been aware of this prophecy and that is part of the backdrop to understanding Hosea 11:1. In this passage we also see that now it is the Messiah who is like a wild ox and it is the Messiah who is the lion in 23:24. The parallelism is pronounced here because what God is showing us is that Israel as a corporate body is teaching us things and stands for certain things in relationship to the Messiah.

Numbers 24:9 NASB "He couches, he lies down as a lion…" This goes back to the prophecy of Jacob over Judah in Genesis 49:10, that the sceptre would not depart from between his feet. And the last line, "Blessed is everyone who blesses you, And cursed is everyone who curses you," is from Genesis 12:2—part of the promise God made to Abraham.

Now we ask the question in relation to Hosea 11 and Matthew's use in chapter two: why didn't Matthew just quote from Numbers 24:7? Because there is something that is said in Hosea 11:1 that is the emphasis. It is not just that Jesus comes up from Egypt that fits that pattern, but it is that He is my son. It is connected to the statements from Psalm 2 that "He is my son," the virgin birth passage in Isaiah 7:14, and in 9:17 that there will be this child who will be born, a son given to us. So Hosea connects the messianic prophecy of Numbers 24:8 with the sonship prophecies related to the Messiah. So that is an historical event with a typical fulfilment.

Isaiah 29:13 NASB "Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned {by rote}." This is another example of where Israel has become religious but only in an external, outward sense. This is quoted in Matthew 15:7-9 when Jesus is confronting the Pharisees and their traditions.

Isaiah 6:10 NASB "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." This speaks of Isaiah's ministry which will be mostly rejected. It is quoted in John 12:39, 40 as a type of the Messiah's ministry that would also be largely rejected. 

Psalm 118:22, 23 talks about the rejected stone which is then typologically applied to Jesus in Matthew 21:42.

Exodus 12:46 which is a prohibition against breaking any bone of the Passover lamb is quoted as quoted as a type in John 19:36—Jesus as the Lamb of God hanging on the cross did not have any of His bones broken.