22. Moses truly said unto the fathers, The Lord your God shall raise up a Prophet unto you of your brethren, [like unto me;] him shall ye hear, according to all things which he shall speak unto you.23. And it shall come to pass, that every soul which shall not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed of the people.24. And all the prophets from Samuel, and thenceforth, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold these days.
22. By this argument he proveth that he goeth not about to cause them to revolt from Moses, because it is a part of the law to take heed to and obey this chief teacher. Here might a doubt arise, why Peter thought it more convenient to cite this testimony of Moses than others, seeing there were many others in readiness far more plain; but he did this for this cause, because he intreateth in this place of the authority of doctrine; and this was the best way to bring the Jews to be Christ's disciples. For he should have preached in vain of all other things, unless they had been persuaded that his doctrine was reverently to be received. This is therefore the thing which Peter aimeth at, to bring them to hear Christ willingly, as the master whom God hath appointed to teach them.
But here ariseth a question, which hath in it great difficulty; to wit, in that Peter applieth that unto the person of Christ which Moses spoke generally of the prophets. For although he make mention of a prophet in the singular number, yet the text [context] doth plainly declare, that he speaketh not of one alone; but that this word is put indefinitely. For after that Moses had forbidden the people to give themselves unto the superstitions of the Gentiles, by turning aside unto enchanters and soothsayers, he showeth them therewithal a remedy, whereby they may avoid all vanity; to wit, if they depend wholly upon the Word of God alone. By this means he promiseth that God will be careful at all times to send them prophets, that they may teach them aright. As if he should say, God will never suffer you to be destitute of prophets, of whom you may learn whatsoever shall be profitable for you to know. And Moses saith expressly, of thy brethren, to the end the Jews may know that the oracles of God are to be sought and set no where else, seeing that God had appointed unto them teachers of the kindred of Abraham. He addeth further, like unto me that they may know that they were not to hear God only at one time, or by the mouth of one man; but as God proceedeth to teach us by divers ministers throughout the continual course of time, so must we hold on in the obedience of the word. Now, the Jews were wont to reverence Moses; therefore, he will have them to give like honor to the prophets. I know that many would fain restrain it unto Christ. They catch at this word, whereas Moses doth testify that the prophet shall be like unto him, (Deuteronomy 18:15,) whereas, notwithstanding, it is written, that there arose none like unto Moses. I confess that there is in both places the same note of likeness, yet in a diverse sense. For, in the second place, the likeness or equality is expressed, as it doth plainly appear. They catch also at another thing, that the prophet shall far excel Moses, of whom he beareth witness as a crier or herald. But this is never a whit stronger, because Moses goeth about to bring to pass that the word of God may be believed by whomsoever it be brought.
Therefore, there is no cause why we should set ourselves to be laughed to scorn by the Jews, by wresting the words of Moses violently, as if he spoke of Christ alone in this place. Yet we must see whether Peter doth cite the testimony fitly, whose authority ought to serve for a sound reason. I say; that in Peter's speech there is nothing which is not most convenient. For he saw that which all men ought to grant, that this testimony doth so appertain unto the other prophets, that yet notwithstanding it doth chiefly commend Christ, not only because that he is the prince and chief of all the prophets, but because all other former prophecies were directed toward him, and because God did at length speak absolutely by his mouth, For God spoke in divers manners, and at sundry times in times past3 unto our fathers by the prophets, he addeth the conclusion at length, in the last days in his only begotten Son, (Hebrews 1:1, 2.) Therefore, it came to pass, that they wanted prophets for a certain years before his coming; which thing is plainly gathered out of the words of Malachi, who, after he hath commanded the people to be mindful of the law, he passeth over by and by unto John Baptist and unto Christ, as if he should say, that the prophecies are now ended until the last revelation come, (Malachi 4:4-6;) according to that,
|The law and the prophets prophesied until John; after that the kingdom of God is preached,|
And that was so common amongst the people, that the woman of Samaria could say, according to the common fame and opinion,
|We know that the Messias shall come,
who will teach us all things,|
Therefore, we know that after the return of the people all the prophets ceased, to the end they might be made more attentive to hear Christ, by that silence or intermission of revelations. Therefore, Peter did not wrest this place, or abuse the same through ignorance, but he took that doctrine which all men had received for a principle; that God had promised to teach his people at the first by his prophets as by means, but at length principally by Christ, at whose hands they were to hope for the perfect manifestation and laying open of all things. And to this purpose serveth that excellent testimony or commendation wherewith his Father setteth him forth, |Hear him,| (Matthew 17:5.)
23. Every soul. Here, by a most grievous punishment against the rebellious, the authority of all the prophets, but most of all of Christ, is established; and that for good causes. For seeing there is nothing that God doth account more precious than his word, it cannot be that he should suffer the same to be freely contemned. Therefore, if any man despised the law of Moses, he was adjudged to die the death. And hereunto Moses had respect when he said, |He shall be put away from among the people.| For God had adopted the stock and kindred of Abraham unto himself, upon this condition, that this might be sufficient for them unto the chiefest felicity to be reckoned in that number, as it is said in the Psalm, |Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.| And in another place, |Blessed is the nation whom the Lord hath chosen to be his inheritance.| Wherefore it is not to be doubted, but that he pronounceth that he shall be blotted out of the book of life whosoever shall refuse to hear Christ. For he is not worthy to be accounted one of the Church, whosoever he be that refuseth to have him to be his Master, by whom alone God doth teach us, and by whom he will have us to hear himself; and he cutteth himself away from the body, whosoever he be that refuseth to be under the Head.
24. And all When as he saith that all the prophets do with one consent send their scholars unto Christ, that appeareth more plainly hereby, which I said, that the commendation of the gospel is contained under that testimony of Moses, and so, consequently, that the conclusion of prophecies is principally noted. Again, this maketh much for the certainty of the gospel, that all the prophets, for a long time, [series of ages,] do yet, notwithstanding, so temper their form of teaching with one consent, that they do testify altogether that men ought to hope for a certain, better, and more perfect thing. Therefore, whosoever will believe Moses and the prophets, he must needs submit himself unto the doctrine of Christ, without which all that is lame and imperfect which they taught, (John 5:47.)