Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Acts 3:18
Peter, after having clearly identified the men of Israel as having been those who killed their Messiah, then noted that they did it in ignorance. A sin of ignorance, as was seen in the previous commentary, could be forgiven with the appropriate sacrifices. But now, Peter doesn’t say to them, “You must observe the rituals laid down by Moses for the atonement of your sins.” Rather, he immediately turns to explain what those sacrifices only anticipated. He does this by beginning with, “But those things.”
This is referring to what he had just said in the previous verses –
But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
What Peter is saying is that what occurred in the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ Jesus had a set purpose. Despite the fact that Israel did these things, thus bearing guilt for their actions, the very things they did actually served as the means of making their own forgiveness possible. This continues to be seen with the words, “which God foretold.”
In other words, the things that happened to Jesus were actually prophesied in advance, meaning that God knew what would occur. Despite this, two things are to be taken as axioms: 1) God did not cause the events. His foreknowledge does not mean active participation in the event. And 2) the people bore guilt for their actions. God’s foreknowledge does not negate personal culpability in the things that they participated in.
God, knowing all things and understanding the hearts of the people of Israel, foresaw their rejection of Christ and allowed them to continue through with His crucifixion, knowing that it would be the means by which the world could be saved. What should have occurred, came about. God’s plans and purposes were fulfilled exactly as spoken “by the mouth of all His prophets.”
This is clearly evidenced throughout Scripture, especially it is seen in typology, but it is also directly prophesied to have occurred at times. Jesus indicated this after the resurrection –
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24:25-27
The word of God reveals Jesus. From beginning to end, He is the main subject of what God is doing in the span of redemptive history. The word of God is given to show this. And the word of God clearly revealed the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of man. Of all of the words of the prophets, this is most explicitly seen in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Take the time to read that short passage today, thinking about how they point to the Person of Jesus. In those words, as elsewhere in Scripture, it clearly indicates “that the Christ would suffer.”
By saying this, Peter is plainly and unambiguously saying that the sufferings of Christ were prophesied in advance, and that what happened to Him was in fulfillment of Scripture. As this is so, and as all of the sacrificial system pointed to what He would do, Scripture – meaning the Law of Moses – is fulfilled in Him. As such, it is now set aside (made obsolete and annulled) in Him.
With this understanding, Peter is indicating that Jesus – not the sacrificial system of the law – is the only Sacrifice acceptable to atone for what they had done. Depending on our knowledge of the Old Testament, we may or may not get this. But the men standing before Peter would. They had heard that God foretold these things, that Christ was the fulfillment of what was spoken forth, and that there was intent and purpose behind those events. Everything added up, and they would have fully grasped this, whether they believed it or not.
This is perfectly evident from discussions with Jews today. Any Jew who is even remotely versed in Scripture, and who understands who Jesus is, knows fully well that Christians believe this to be true. They grasp the theology mentally, but they do not believe it to be so. They also know it because throughout the centuries, a remnant of believing Jews has always existed. There are Jews who have not only grasped what is said, but they have believed it. Of these things concerning the sufferings of Christ that were prophesied in advance, Peter – still speaking of God in Christ – says, “He has thus fulfilled.”
As before, this does not mean that God actively caused these things to happen. And further, God could have actively stopped them from happening. This is evidenced by Jesus’ words prior to His crucifixion –
But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” Matthew 26:52-54
God allowed the events to take their course because He knew that what Christ would do was necessary for restoration between Him and man to take place. But the guilt of what took place rests squarely upon Israel for their actions, the denial they professed, and the rejection that occurred among them. Peter has stated it is so, he has shown that Scripture confirms his words, and he will next explain what they need to do in order to be forgiven for their actions. He will also explain to them what a failure to do what is necessary will mean for them.
Life application: When thought through, this verse is a good one to understand other important issues that arise in theology, such as the process of salvation. For example, many people believe that because God knows in advance what will transpire, it necessarily follows that man does not actually have free will. This is nonsense, and that becomes perfectly evident from evaluating this verse.
If that were so, then there would be no culpability for Israel’s actions in having crucified their Messiah. Peter clearly told them that Scripture foretold what would happen. And yet, he also unmistakably has told them that they are guilty before God because of it, and they must do something in order to be absolved of their guilt. God’s foreknowledge in no way negates man’s free will, nor the guilt that comes from exercising it.
Further, God’s foreknowledge in no way negates man’s responsibility toward the gospel. As an example, Calvinism teaches that man does not have free will in choosing Christ. It says that man is incapable of calling out to God because he is totally depraved. But total depravity can have various meanings. Just two of the many examples of total depravity are:
The first is wrong on the surface. James 3:9 clearly indicates that the image of God in man remains. And more, Genesis 3:22 plainly indicates that in the fall of man, he obtained the knowledge of good and evil. He can know the difference and choose what is good and what is evil (see Genesis 4:7).
With the incorrect view of man in relation to God, Calvinism says that man cannot receive Christ without God intervening. As such, it teaches that God chooses who will be saved, He regenerates their spirit (they are born again), they then can choose what is good by calling on Christ, and they are then saved. In essence, a person is saved before he is saved. It is confused thinking and poor theology.
Calvinists cling to John 6:44 as evidence of their view –
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Using this verse as a stand-alone rejects the entire context of what Jesus is saying. In John 5, Jesus distinctly indicates that God uses Scripture for this very purpose. God the Father IS DRAWING man through the word of God. The word of God speaks of Christ, and Christ came to fulfill Scripture. As such, Jesus later says in John 12:32 –
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
In every numbering system ever devised, except that used by Calvinists, 12:32 comes after 6:44. There is a reason why Jesus’ words are placed there. It is because Scripture is used to draw man to God. Jesus fulfills and thus embodies Scripture. Therefore, when He is crucified, He will become the principal means for God to draw men to Himself. This is just one of the many points where Calvinism incorrectly uses Scripture to come to erroneous conclusions concerning key theological points of doctrine.
Conclusion to life application: Calvinism is a failed theological system.
Lord God, thank You for the offer of Jesus Christ that has been presented to all people. It is by personal faith, through free will, that we are allowed to believe or reject Your offer. This demonstrates a great care for Your creatures. You allow us, without forcing us, to simply believe and be saved. Thank You for this offer of peace and reconciliation. Yes, thank You for the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
It is Free