The Axe of Acts 3:22-23

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The Creation Concept

John the Baptist

J. A. Alexander

Albert Barnes

Johann Albrecht Bengel

Darrell L. Bock

William Burkitt

John Calvin

J. B. Coffman

Thomas L. Constable

J. N. Darby

John Gill

William Godbey

Heinrich Meyer

Matthew Poole

Charles C. Ryrie

Stephen Sizer

John Wesley


John the Baptist preached a message from the prophet Isaiah. His message of hope said that salvation would extend far beyond the region of Judea, as he said, "all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. [Luke 3:1-6]

He told the Jews not to relay on their race, and on being descendants of Abraham. Bring forth fruit of repentance, he told them.

Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [Luke 3:7-9]

John's reference to the axe, which is laid to the root of the trees, portend drastic changes that were about to occur having special importance for Jews.

When Jesus was rejected by the leaders of the Jews, and crucified, they unwittingly fulfilled prophecy. At Pentecost, Peter said Jesus was made Christ by God, which meant that he fulfills the prophecies about a Messiah who will reign forever upon the throne of David, over Israel, in Jerusalem. Peter's message implies that Jerusalem is now a heavenly city. Those who believe in Jesus are its citizens.

Isaiah said the mountain of the Lord's house will be established in the top of the mountains, above the hills. It was established above all mountains, in heaven. This mountain is mount Zion, which represents the Christian Church.

In Acts 3:22-23, Peter said to the Jews that their failure to believe in Jesus would mean that they would be "destroyed from among the people," and quoted from the law of Moses.

"For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people."

This Scripture works as an axe, that is laid at the root of the tree of Judaism, and fulfills the prophecy of John the Baptist. Jews who did not submit to Jesus as Lord and king were no longer Israel.

This menu at the left links to various commentaries on Acts 3:22-23.

On Acts 3:23, dispensationalist C. I. Scofield's notes are silent.

Similarly Robert L. Saucy's book, The Church in God's Program, does not cite Acts 3:22-23 at all, as far as I can determine from a text search. Yet these verses seem highly relevant to the topic of the book.

Copyright © 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
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