For so hath the Lord commanded us
For though Christ in his first commission restrained his disciples from going into the Gentiles, and preaching to them, yet when he enlarged their commission after his resurrection, he bid them go into all nations, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and told them, that they should be his witnesses to the uttermost part of the earth; see ( Matthew 28:19 ) ( Mark 16:15 ) ( Acts 1:8 ) unless this should rather be thought to refer to what follows:
or "as it is written", as the Syriac version supplies; or "because so saith the Scripture", as the Ethiopic version, namely in ( Isaiah 49:6 ) .
I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles;
to enlighten the Gentiles that sit in darkness, by the preaching of the Gospel to them, and the Spirit of God attending it: this supposes the Gentiles to have been in darkness; as they were about divine things, before the times of the Gospel: they had no true knowledge of God himself; for though they knew there was a God, they did not know, at least but few of them, that there was but one God; and none of them knew anything of him as in Christ; they had not a revelation of his will, they were without the written law, and were strangers to the true manner of worshipping the divine Being; they knew nothing at all of the Messiah, and of his righteousness and salvation by him; nor of the Spirit of God, and the operations of his grace, nor of the resurrection of the dead, and were very ignorant of a future state: it was therefore an unspeakable mercy to them, that Christ was appointed to be a light to them; not in a way of nature, as he is that light which lightens every man that comes into the world; but in a way of grace, through the ministration of the Gospel, and by the special illuminations of the divine Spirit; whereby they see there is a righteous judge, and that there will be a righteous judgment; and that sin is exceeding sinful, and cannot be atoned for by them, and therefore they are in themselves miserable and undone; and they further see, that pardon and righteousness are only by Christ, and that salvation is alone in him. The words are spoken by God the Father to his Son, and express the eternal decree of God, and the designation of Christ to be the light of his people; the mission of him in time as the light of the world, and the exhibition of him in the Gospel, for the illumination of men by his Spirit and grace. In the Hebrew text it is, "I will give thee" for all this springs from the free grace of God; Christ in all respects is the gift of God, as he is the head of the church, and the Saviour of the body, so as he is the light of men; and it is necessary that he should be light, in order to be salvation, as follows; for though men may go to hell in the dark, yet not to heaven; the way of the wicked is darkness, but the path of just is shining light: those whom God rives, he enlightens with the light of life:
that thou shouldest be for salvation to the ends of the earth;
impetratively as the author of it, and applicatively by means of the Gospel, which publishes salvation by Christ; and is the power of God unto salvation, to Gentiles as well as Jews, even to all that believe, in what part of the world soever they live: thus what was decreed and resolved on by God the Father, and was declared by him to his Son, is applied to his ministers and ambassadors, who represented him; so that what they did, he may be said to do; and who by them was to go, and did go to the Gentiles, and enlighten them with the light of the Gospel, and became salvation to them; so that this prophecy is produced by the apostles, to vindicate their conduct, as well as to show the agreement between the command of Jesus Christ to his disciples, and the decree of God the Father; as also to illustrate and confirm the particular order, which the Apostle Paul had, to go to the Gentiles, and to which he may have a regard here; see ( Acts 26:17 ) . In the Hebrew text it is, "my salvation": provided, promised, and sent by God, the Saviour of his people.