Thursday, April 22, 2010
1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Verse 3 talks about the appearance of Jesus Christ to his apostles following his resurrection. Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, says that the Lord showed himself "by many infallible proofs". What were these infallible proofs?
The original language of the New Testament is Greek. The Greek word which was translated into "infallible truths" is τεκμήριον (tekmērion) which can also be translated as "token". This brings to mind the words of verse 7 of the hymn "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief":
Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before my eyes.
He spake and my poor name he named,
"Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not thou didst them unto me"
In the case of Acts 1:3 the tokens were most likely the nail prints in the hands and feet of the Savior and the wound in his side. It is interesting however to look at the definition of the word "token" to find out other possible meanings.
Here is the definition of token as given in the 1828 edition of Webster's dictionary:
TOKEN, n. to'kn. [L. signum, dialetically varied, or from the same radix.]
1. A sign; something intended to represent or indicate another thing or an event. Thus the rainbow is a token of God's covenant established with Noah. The blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled on the doors of the Hebrews, was a token to the destroying angel of God's will that he should pass by those houses. Gen 9. Exo 12.
Show me a token for good. Psa 86.
2. A mark. In pestilential diseases, tokens are livid spots upon the body, which indicate the approach of death.
3. A memorial of friendship; something by which the friendship of another person is to be kept in mind.
4. In coinage, tokens were coins struck in the reign of Elizabeth in the cities of Bristol, Oxford and Worcester, and also by private persons, which were put into circulation, and upon being returned,the issuer gave the value of them in current money.
5. In printing, ten quires of paper; an extra quire is usually added to every other token, when counted out for the press.
Additionally, it is interesting to consider these verses in a temple context. Brigham Young made this statement:
"Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell." -JD 2:31