Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
32. This Jesus hath God raised up; whereof we all are witnesses. 33. He being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Ghost of the Father, he hath now shed forth that which ye now see and hear. 34. For David is not ascended into heaven: But he saith, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35. Until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 36. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for a surety, that God hath made this Jesus Lord, and the same Christ, whom ye have crucified.
32. This Jesus After that he had proved by the testimony of David, that it was most requisite that Christ should rise again, he saith, that he and the rest of his fellows were such witnesses as saw him with their eyes after his resurrection. For this text 124 will not suffer this word raised up to be drawn into any other sense. Whereupon it followeth that that was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth which David did foreshow concerning Christ. After that he intreateth of the fruit or effect. For it was requisite for him to declare that first, that Christ is alive. Otherwise it had been an absurd and incredible thing that he should be the author of so great a miracle. Notwithstanding he doth therewithal teach us, that he did not rise for his own sake alone, but that he might make the whole Church partaker of his life, having poured out the Spirit.
33. He being therefore exalted by the right hand of God The right hand is taken in this place for the hand or power, in like sort as it is taken everywhere in the Scripture. For this is his drift, to declare that it was a wonderful work of God, in that he had exalted his Christ (whom men thought to be quite destroyed by death) unto so great glory.
The promise of the Spirit for the Spirit which was promised. For he had oftentimes before promised the Spirit to his apostles. Therefore Peter doth signify, that Christ had obtained power of God the Father to fulfill the same. And he maketh mention of the promise in plain words, to the end the Jews may know that this came not to pass suddenly, but that the words of the prophet were now verified, which went long time before the thing itself.
Furthermore, whereas it is said that he obtained it of the Father, it is to be applied to the person of the Mediator. For both these are truly said, that Christ sent the Spirit from himself and from the Father. He sent him from himself, because he is eternal God; from the Father, because in as much as he is man, he receiveth that of the Father which he giveth us. And Peter speaketh wisely according to the capacity of the ignorant, lest any man should move a question out of season concerning the power of Christ. And surely forasmuch as it is the office of Christ to direct us unto his Father, this is a most apt form of speaking for the use of godliness, that Christ being placed, as it were, in the midst between God and us, doth deliver unto us with his own hand those gifts which he hath received at the hands of his Father. Furthermore, we must note this order that he saith, that the Spirit was sent by Christ after that he was exalted. This agreeth with those sentences:
“The Spirit was not yet given,
because Christ was not yet glorified,”
“Unless I go hence, the Spirit will not come,”
Not because the Spirit began then first to be given, wherewith the holy fathers were endued since the beginning of the world; but because God did defer this more plentiful abundance of grace, until such time as he had placed Christ in his princely seat; which is signified by this word poured out, as we saw a little before. For by this means the force and fruit of Christ his death and resurrection is sealed; and we do also thereby know, that we have lost nothing by Christ his departing out of the world; because, though he be absent in body, yet is he present with us after a better sort, to wit, by the grace of his Holy Spirit.
34. For doubtless David Although they might easily gather by the very effect which they saw with their eyes, that the principality was granted and given to Christ, yet to the end his glory may carry the greater credit, he proveth, by David his testimony, that it was so appointed in times past by God, that Christ should be lifted up unto the highest degree of honor. For these words, to “sit at the right hand of God,” import as much as to bear the chief rule, as we shall afterward more at large declare. Yet before he reciteth the prophecy, he saith that it agreeth only to Christ. Therefore, to the end the sense may be more manifest, the sentence must thus run. David pronounceth that it was decreed by God that a king should sit at his right hand. But this doth not appertain unto David, who was never extolled unto so great dignity. Therefore lie speaketh this of Christ. Furthermore, that ought to have seemed no strange thing unto the Jews which was foretold by the oracle of the Holy Ghost. Hereby it appeareth in what sense Peter denieth that David ascended into heaven. He intreateth not in this place of the soul of David, whether it were received into blessed rest, and the heavenly dwelling or no; but the ascending into heaven comprehendeth under it those things which Paul teacheth in the Epistle to the Ephesians, (Eph 4:9), where he placeth Christ above all heavens, that he may fulfill all things. Wherefore the disputation concerning the estate of the dead is altogether superfluous in this place. For Peter goeth about to prove no other thing but this, that the prophecy concerning the sitting at the right hand of God was not fulfilled in David, and that, therefore, the truth thereof must be sought elsewhere. And forasmuch as it can be found nowhere else save only in Jesus Christ, it resteth that the Jews 125 do know that that is showed to them in Christ which was foretold them so long before. That is true, indeed, that David reigned, God being the author hereof, and, in some respect, he was God’s vicegerent; yet not so that he might be above all creatures. Wherefore, this sitting agreeth to none, unless he excel and be above all the whole world.
The Lord said unto my Lord. This is the most lawful manner of ruling, when as the king (or by what other title soever he be called) doth know that he is ordained of God, therefore David pronounceth that the commandment to reign was given unto Christ by name, (Ps 110:1.) As if he should say, He took not the honor to himself rashly, but did only obey God when he commanded him, (Heb 5:5.) Now must we see whether Peter’s reason be sound enough or no. He gathereth that the words concern Christ, because the sitting at the right hand of God doth not agree to David. It seemeth that this may be refuted, because David did reign by the peculiar commandment, name, and help of God; which is to sit at the right hand of God. But Peter taketh that for a thing which all men grant, which is true, and which I have already touched, that a greater and more royal government is here spoken of than that which David did enjoy. For howsoever he was God’s vicegerent and did, as it were, represent his person in reigning, yet is this power far inferior to that, to sit even at the right side of God. For this is attributed to Christ, because he is placed above all principality, and above every name that is named, both in this world, and in the world to come, (Eph 1:21.) Seeing that David is far inferior to the angels, he doth possess no such place that he should be counted next to God. For he must ascend far above all heavens, that he may come to the right hand of God. Wherefore no man is said to sit at it, rightly and properly, save only he which doth surpass all creatures in the degree of honor. As for him which is resident amongst the creatures, although he be reckoned in the order of angels, yet is he far from that highness. Again, we must not seek the right hand of God amongst the creatures; but it doth also surpass all heavenly principalities.
Furthermore, there is great weight even in the sentence itself. The king is commanded to bear the chiefest rule, until God have put all his enemies under his feet. Surely, although I grant that; he name of such an honorable sitting may be applied unto earthly lordship: yet do I deny that David did reign until such time as all his enemies were subdued. For we do hereby gather that the kingdom of Christ is eternal. But the kingdom of David was not only temporal, but also frail, and of a small continuance.
Moreover, when David died, he left many enemies alive here and there he got many notable victories, but he was far from subduing all his enemies. He made many of those people which were round about him tributaries to him; some did he put to flight and destroyed; but what is all this unto all? Finally, we may prove by the whole text of the Psalm, that there can nothing else be understood save only the kingdom of Christ. That I may pass over other things: that which is here spoken touching the eternal priesthood is too far disagreeing from David’s person. I know that the Jews do prattle, that kings’ sons are called elsewhere cohenim. But he intreateth here of the priesthood as it is ascribed by Moses to the king Melchizedek. And there is established by a solemn oath a certain new kind of priesthood. And, therefore, we must not here imagine any common or ordinary thing. But it had been wickedness for David to thrust himself into any part of the priest’s office. How should he then be called cohen, greater than Aaron, and consecrated of God for ever? But because I do not intend at this present to expound the whole Psalm, let this reason suffice which Peter bringeth: That he is made Lord of heaven and earth, which sitteth at the right hand of God. As touching the second member of the verse, read those things which I have noted upon the fifteenth chapter (1Co 15:25) of the former Epistle to the Corinthians, concerning the putting of his enemies under his feet.
36. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know The house of Israel did confess that that Christ should come which was promised; yet did they not know Who it was. Therefore, Peter concludeth, that Jesus: whom they had so spitefully handled, yea, whose name they did so greatly detest: is he whom they ought to acknowledge to be their Lord, and whom they ought to reverence. For, (saith he,) God hath made him Lord and Christ; that is, you must look for none other than him whom God hath made and given. Furthermore, he saith, That he was made, because God the Father gave him this honor. He joineth the title Lord with the word Christ, because it was a common thing among the Jews, that the Redeemer should be anointed upon this condition, that he might be the Head of the Church, and that the chiefest power over all things might be given him. He speaketh unto the whole house of Israel; as if he should say, Whosoever will be reckoned among the sons of Jacob, and do also look for the promise, let them know for a surety, that this is he and none other. He useth the word house, because God had separated that name and family from all other people. And he saith ασφαλως, or for a surety, not only that they may repose their sure confidence and trust in Christ, but that he may take away all occasion of doubting from those which do oftentimes willingly doubt even of matters which are certain and sure. In the end of his oration he upbraideth unto them again, that they did crucify him, that being touched with greater grief of conscience, they may desire remedy.
And now, forasmuch as they know that Jesus is the Anointed of the Lord, the governor of the Church, and the giver of the Holy Ghost, the accusation hath so much the more force. For the putting of him to death was not only full of cruelty and wickedness, but also a testimony of outrageous disloyalty against God, of sacrilege and unthankfulness, and, finally, of apostasy. But it was requisite that they should be so wounded, lest they should have been slow to seek for medicine. And yet, notwithstanding, they did not crucify him with their own hands; but this is more than sufficient to make them guilty, in that they desired to have him put to death. And we also are accused by this same voice, if we crucify him in ourselves, being already glorified in heaven, making a mock of him, as saith the Apostle, (Heb 6:6.)
“Prophetia admoniti,” admonished by prophecy, omitted.