To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days…
I. THE FACT ITSELF, OR THE NOTION OF A RESURRECTION IN GENERAL. Admitting the power and providence of God, there can be nothing in it repugnant to reason, or incredible.
1. To raise a dead man to life surpasses the power of any creature; but no reason can be assigned why it should be beyond the Divine power; since the doing it involves no contradiction. He that first inspired the soul into the body, may surely be supposed capable of reuniting them.
2. Nor was it apparently in its design unworthy of God, or inconsistent with His holy will: for the ends thereof, such as were pretended by its attesters, were —
II. THE WITNESSES.
1. General considerations:(1) As to their number, it was not one or two, but many, who conspired in asserting it.
(2) They were no strangers to Jesus, but persons by long conversation familiarly acquainted with Him.
(3) They did aver themselves to be eye or ear-witnesses of the matter, as fully informed about it as senses could make them.
(4) The chief of these witnesses, the apostles themselves, were at first so far from being credulous in this matter, that they took it for a fiction, gave no credence thereto, and were at last with difficulty persuaded of it.
(5) On these grounds they boldly and concurrently aver the fact: "they spake the Word of God with boldness": and "with great power gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." Which things being weighed, it appears impossible that the attesters of this fact, supposing them in their wits and senses, could be ignorant therein, or mistaken about it.
2. The character of the witnesses.
(1) They were persons who did (with denunciation of God's heavy judgments on the contrary practice) preach and press earnestly all kinds of goodness, sincerity, modesty, and equity, as main points of that religion which by this testimony they confirmed.
(2) Their practice was answerable to their doctrine, being exemplary in all sorts of virtue and sincerity, whereby they did in effect conciliate much respect and authority to their words: the life they led was not the life of wicked impostors, but worthy of the divinest men; fit to carry on the best design.
(3) They were:persons of good sense; very wise and prudent; not in the way of worldly or fleshly wisdom, to compass projects of gain or pleasure to themselves; but endued with a wisdom far more excellent, and suitable to the characters they sustained.
(4) As to their purposes in this case: profit, honour, pleasure, or any worldly advantage they could not have in view; for they willingly abandoned all those things, for the sake of this very testimony incurring loss, disgrace, and pain.
(5) And all such afflictions, as they knowingly exposed themselves to them, they did endure with contentedness and joy.
(6) Whence it is evident enough that the satisfaction of their conscience, and expectation of future reward from God for the discharge of their duty, was all the argument that induced them to undertake this attestation, all the reason that could support them in it; neither of which could be consistent with the resolved maintenance of a falsehood.
(7) And how is it conceivable that such persons should be bewitched with so passionate an affection toward a man, who died as a malefactor, that merely for his sake, or rather a vain opinion about him, they should with such obstinacy defy all the world, with its persecutions, and the punishment of hell itself.
(8) Again, we may consider these witnesses to have been persons very unlikely to devise such a plot, very unfit to undertake it, very unable to manage and carry it through.
III. THEIR TESTIMONY.
1. How could such a cheat, if contrived, have so easily prospered,. and obtained so wonderful a progress?
2. The matter of their testimony, and its drift, were very implausible, such as no impostors would be likely to forge, and no hearers, without great evidence of truth, be ready to admit.
3. One would indeed think that this report, had it been false, might easily have been disproved and quashed; they who were mightily concerned, and as eagerly disposed to confute it, wanting no means of doing it.
4. As also this testimony had no human power to sustain it, so it used no sleight to convey itself into the persuasions of men" it craved no blind faith: it dared all adversaries and powers to withstand it, relying on the patronage of heaven alone.
5. Furthermore, the thing itself, had it been counterfeit, was adapted to fall of itself; the witnesses clashing together, or relenting for their crime. The advice of Gamaliel on this point had much reason in it.
6. He then who doubts the sincerity of this testimony, or rejects it as incredible, must instead of it admit stronger incredibilities.
7. To these things we may add that God Himself did signally countenance and ratify this testimony, by extraordinary powers and graces conferred on the avowers thereof, as well as by a wonderful success bestowed on them.
(F. Barrow, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: