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Commentary On Acts Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Acts 2: 5-12

5. And there were at Jerusalem Jews abiding, godly men, out of every nation of those which are under heaven.6. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and was astonished: because every one heard them speak in his own tongue.7. And they wondered all, and marveled, saying amongst themselves, Behold, are not all these which speak men of Galilee? 8. And how do we every one hear them speaking in his own language, wherein we were born? 9. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabiters of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, of Pontus and Asia, 10. And of Phrygia and Pamphylia, of Egypt, and of the parts of Libya towards Cyrene, and strangers of Rome; 11. Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our tongues the wonderful works of God.12. Therefore they were all amazed, and marveled, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking, said, They are full of sweet wine.

5. And there were at Jerusalem. When he calleth them godly or religious men, he seemeth to give us to understand that they came to Jerusalem that they might worship God; like as God, in all ages, after the scattering abroad, did gather together into that city some seed which remained, having, as it were, set up his banner, because as yet the temple did serve to some use. Yet, nevertheless, he showeth, by the way, who those be which profit by those miracles, whereby God doth declare his power. For wicked and profane men do either laugh at them, or else pass [care] not for them, as we shall see by and by. Furthermore, he meant to cite those as witnesses, which may the better be believed for their religion and godliness. When he said, out of every nation, he meaneth out of divers countries, whereof one is far from another. For he doth also afterwards reckon up those lands whereof one was far distant from another, of which sort are Libya and Pontus, Rome and Parthia, and Arabia, and such like. This serveth to increase the greatness of the thing. For the Cretians and men of Asia, dwelling so near together, might have some likelihood and agreement in speech; but the same could not be betwixt the Italians and the men of Cappadocia, betwixt the Arabians and those of Pontus. Yea, this was also a work of God worthy to be remembered and wondered at, that in so huge and horrible a scattering abroad of the people, he did always reserve some relics, yea, he caused certain strangers to adjoin themselves unto a people which was in such misery, and, as it were, quite destroyed. For although they lived here and there in exile in far countries, and being one far from another, did, as it were, inhabit divers worlds, yet did they hold among themselves the unity of faith. Neither doth he call them unadvisedly, and without good consideration, godly men, and men gearing God.

6. When this was noised abroad. Luke saith thus in Greek, This voice being made; but his meaning is, that the fame was spread abroad, whereby it came to pass that a great multitude came together. For if one after another in divers places, and at divers times, had heard the apostles speaking in divers tongues, the miracle had not been so famous; therefore they come altogether into one place, that the diversity of tongues may the better appear by the present comparison. There is a further circumstance also here to be noted, that the country (and native soil) of the apostles was commonly known, and this was also commonly known, that they never went out of their country to learn strange tongues. Therefore, forasmuch as one speaketh Latin, another Greek, another the Arabian tongue, as occasion was offered, and that indifferently, and every one doth also change his tongue, the work of God appeareth more plainly hereby.

11. The wonderful works of God. Luke noteth two things which caused the hearers to wonder; first, because the apostles being before ignorant and private persons, born in a base corner, did, notwithstanding, intreat profoundly of divine matters, and of heavenly wisdom. The other is, because they have new tongues given them suddenly. Both things are worth the noting, because to huddle out [utter] words unadvisedly and foolishly, should not so much have served to move their minds; and the majesty of the things ought the more to have moved them to consider the miracle. Although they give due honor to God, in that they are astonished and amazed, yet the principal and of the miracle is expressed in this, that they inquire, and thereby declare that they are prepared to learn; for otherwise their amazedness and wondering should not have done them any great good. And certainly we must so wonder at the works of God, that there must be also a consideration, and a desire to understand.

12. Others mocking Hereby it appeareth how monstrous as well the sluggishness, as also the ungodliness of men is, when Satan hath taken away their mind. If God should openly (and visibly) descend from heaven, his majesty could scarce more manifestly appear than in this miracle. Whosoever hath any drop of sound understanding in him must needs be stricken with the only hearing of it. How beastly, then, are those men who see it with their eyes, and yet scoff, and go about with their jests to mock the power of God? But the matter is so. There is nothing so wonderful which those men do not turn to a jest who are touched with no care of God; because they do, even upon set purposes, harden themselves in their ignorance in things most plain. And it is a just punishment of God, which he bringeth upon such pride, to deliver them to Satan, to be driven headlong into blind fury. Wherefore, there is no cause why we should marvel that there be so many at this day so blind in so great light, if they be so deaf when such manifest doctrine is delivered, yea, if they wantonly refuse salvation when it is offered unto them. For if the wonderful and strange works of God, wherein he doth wonderfully set forth his power, be subject to the mockery of men, what shall become of doctrine, which they think tasteth of nothing but of that which is common? Although Luke doth signify unto us that they were not of the worst sort, or altogether past hope, which did laugh (and mock;) but he meant rather to declare how the common sort was affected when they saw this miracle. And truly it hath been always so in the world, for very few have been touched with the true feeling of God as often as he hath revealed himself. Neither is it any marvel; for religion is a rare virtue, and a virtue which few men have; which is, indeed, the beginning of understanding. Nevertheless, howsoever the more part of men, through a certain hard stiff-neckedness, doth reject the consideration of the works of God, yet are they never without fruit, as we may see in this history.

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