This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: Acts 28:20 ‘for because of the hope of Israel, I am bound with this chai

This Week’s Focus Passage: Acts 28:20

‘for because  of the hope of Israel, I am bound with this chain.’

    Just what is the ‘hope of Israel,’ or, Who is the ‘hope of Israel’? Of what, or Whom, does the apostle speak of, or write of, here is this final passage in the book of Acts? We, most likely, should be asking this question not with reference to the apostle, but rather with reference to the author of this book of the Bible, usually referred to as, ‘The Gospel of Luke.’ Lenski, at any rate, along with many others, ascribes the authorship to Luke, the Gentile physician. He also cites corroboration from such as, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. He additionally cites Eusebius, when saying “Eusebius, in his Church History, 3:4, speaks, without doubting, of both the Gospel and the Acts as being written by Luke.” And Luke, we remember as the active historian writing the book of Acts, and referring in that book, to Luke, saying;

The former treatise [The Gospel of Luke] I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen.-Acts 1:1-2.

And the humility of Luke is most demonstrable in his opening words in Luke:

Foreasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; that thou mightiest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou was instructed. (Luke 1:1-4).

And Luke has recorded, for his readers, this statement of the apostle Paul, explaining himself; or attempting to explain himself, and his teaching. He wishes for them to understand why he is under guard in Rome, when he says to them in the context of our focus verse, that he had done nothing against the people; speaking of his people, the Jews; and that, in fact, neither had he done anything against their customs, those customs of the fathers, as he called them. And again, in point of fact, when he was delivered into the hands of the Romans, and examined by them, they found no cause of death in him, and even desired to set him free, to set him at liberty, our text says. 

Joseph Addison Alexander’s remarks on the apostle’s defense noted here in our text, are most interesting, and worthy of repetition from his commentary on the book of Acts. J. A. Alexander was the third son of Archibald Alexander, and graduated from the college of New Jersey, founded by his father, and later was himself a professor.             



He wrote the following in his commentary:

    “By this skillful but most natural conclusion, Paul connects the simple statement of his own case, and the purpose of his present visit, with the great Messianic doctrine which was at once the center of the Jewish and the Christian systems. Here, as in 23:6, 24:15, and 26:6, 7, the hope of Israel is faith in the Messiah as predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures. Here too, as in his previous apologies just cited, he describes this hope as the occasion of his sufferings, because it was his Messianic doctrine that had caused the breach between him and his countrymen, and thus led to his loss of liberty and accusation as a renegade and heretic. But this doctrine, far from involving a rejection of the ancient Jewish faith, was in his view and inflexible adherence to it, and he thus comes back to the point from which he set out, namely, that the best Christian is the best Jew in the true sense of the term.”

    Old Simeon is set before us, in Luke 2:25, when Joseph and Mary bring their newborn, Jesus, to the temple. His sanctified response is most blessed; we read:

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ

Simeon was looking for One denominated to be ‘The Consolation of Israel;’ and is not this ‘Consolation of Israel,’ to be understood as being, ‘The Hope of Israel’? Surely, He who is referred as the Lord’s Christ is both the Consolation and the Hope.   

In Psalm 71:14, we may read; “But I will hope continually, And will praise thee yet more and more. (Psalm 71:14), where the Hebrew yahal is to be taken in the following sense: “yahal is primarily translated by elpizo in the LXX with the good in view. This yahal is ‘hope,’and is not a pacifying wish of the imagination which drowns out troubles, nor is it uncertain, but rather yahal ‘hope’ is the solid ground of expectation for the righteous. As such it is directed toward God. The Psalmist twice commands; O Israel, hope in Jehovah; for with Jehovah there is lovingkindness, and with him is plenteous redemption. (Psalm 130:7), O Israel, hope in Jehovah from this time forth and for evermore. (131:3).”

How would Paul, this assiduous Pharisee and student of the Old Testament, have understood Ezek. 37:10-12? Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, O my people. Would he not have understood of the Hope spoken of above, as being the Hope of Israel ? And would his preaching of Christ not have demonstrated that He [Jesus Christ] would be the One that would ‘open your graves,’ through His satisfying atonement at Golgotha? Would he not embrace, for himself, his own teaching, as in Colossians 1:27, Christ in you, the hope of glory and 1 Thessalonians 5:8, And for a helmet, the hope of salvation?

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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