And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:…
I. ITS SUBSTANCE.
1. Christ's miracles. "All things which He did." These miracles were —
(1) Declarative of His Divine power, and thus credentials of His Messiahship.
(2) Symbols of His saving influence. As there was a miracle in every parable, so there was a parable in every miracle. Thus, when Christ opened blind eyes, it typified the restoration of spiritual sight; when He healed disease, it showed His power over the paralysis and leprosy of sin; when He raised people from the dead, it proclaimed His ability to raise from the death of trespasses and sins.
2. Christ's crucifixion. "Whom they slew." This was the central fact of all apostolic testimony. It was the burden of Peter's earliest message and latest epistle, and the ruling theme of all Paul's ministry. This was not only
(1) Martyrdom for truth, or
(2) An example of self-sacrifice, but also
(3) Atonement for sin. As the preacher afterwards testified, "He bore our sins," "He died the Just for the unjust," and redeemed us with His "precious blood."
3. Christ's resurrection (ver. 40). This was declarative of —
(1) His Divine Sonship.
(2) His victory over death and the grave.
(3) The acceptance of His atonement.
(4) Our resurrection, of which His was a pledge and type.
4. His second coming (ver. 42). This was a matter of revelation, not of eyewitnessing, but it was the inevitable outcome of all they saw. Christ was to come —
(1) As Judge, and assert openly His universal Lordship.
(2) As Raiser of the dead.
5. Remission of sins through faith in Christ (ver. 43). Thus we have in the first sermon to the Gentiles the whole gospel in substance, and the main articles of the Christian creed.
II. ITS AUTHORITY.
1. The testimony of their senses. They were trustworthy men. They could see, and actually saw, and had no inclination or inducement to make a false report; and their clear knowledge and full conviction gave body and strength to their testimony.
2. The Divine choice and command. They were selected because they had seen, and were commanded to tell what they saw. Hence they were not lecturers on history, which they would have been without a Divine call, but missionaries of a gospel.
3. Their own sanctified impulse. They could not but, out of the love of Him who had died for them and rose again, declare the things they had seen and heard.
III. ITS METHOD.
1. It was not simple declaration. Merely to say that they saw Jesus, etc., would have excited interest, stimulated inquiry, imparted information, and perhaps have founded a school, but would never have converted a soul or established a Church.
2. It was persuasive preaching. Their aim was not merely to secure belief in certain truths, but to save souls; and so "it has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe." How faithful, earnest, telling, and successful this preaching was these early sermons testify.
IV. ITS REARING ON OURSELVES.
1. We are not eyewitnesses, but we may be heart witnesses. We have not seen Christ's physical miracles, but we may be the subjects of His spiritual miracles. We have not seen the crucifixion, but we may receive the atonement. We are not witnesses of Christ's resurrection, but we may feel its power.
2. Being heart witnesses, we are bound to testify what we feel.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: