Acts Chapter 2: Pentecost

Jan 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: Acts, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Acts Chapter 2: Pentecost

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The expression “when the day of Pentecost was fully come” shows the importance of the date.

Similar examples are that Jesus was born “when the fulness of the time was come” and crucified when “his hour was come” (Gal. 4:4; John 13:1). Therefore, the Holy Spirit could not come until the Day of Pentecost arrived. “They were all with one accord in one place [in an upper room of a house]” (Acts 1:13; 2:2).

Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

The sound of a mighty wind filled the house. The thought is not that objects were blowing around the room but that the apostles and the others heard the roar of a violent wind. The wind was no doubt so violent that it shook the house as on another occasion (see Acts 4:31).

Why did the sound come suddenly? Why did the wind represent the Holy Spirit? Like the wind, the Holy Spirit is a powerful, invisible force. Since wind normally increases gradually, the suddenness had the psychological effect of showing that the sound was not a natural occurrence. Also, the suddenness of the sound would have startled the apostles and the others into attention. Having been in “one accord,” they may even have been praying, but whatever they were doing, they would have stopped and hearkened (Acts 1:14).

The sound of a violent wind (but not the wind itself) “filled all the house” like a powerful presence. The “sound … of a rushing mighty wind” means a continuing roar, not one blast. All in the room received the Holy Spirit and a tongue of fire. This incident marked the introduction of the Holy Spirit in the sense of doing extraordinary things in a marked, miraculous fashion in the early Church.

Q: Would Matthias have been present with the apostles?

A: Yes. Presumably he was not only with the apostles but considered one of them until Paul came on the scene.

Q: Would Matthias also have received a tongue of fire?

A: It would seem so because even ordinary believers in the early Church got a gift of the Holy Spirit as an evidence of their acceptance.

Acts 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

In addition to the sound of wind, a tongue of fire (a flame in the shape of a fiery tongue) rested on the head of each one in the room. A luminous body of fire was above, and to each person assembled, a flame came out in the shape of a tongue; that is, the terminal end that rested on the head of each person was in the shape of a tongue. The “tongues … of fire” indicated that there would be some evidence of power and illumination in their future speech. The disciples were probably sitting when they heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind right in the room. As they were paralyzed from the sound, they saw cloven tongues of fire on the heads of those assembled. The fact that the tongues were “cloven” means they were separated from a main source above, and a connection or distribution of fire singled out each one in the room.

The same Holy Spirit has diverse operations. Subsequently in the early Church, the gift of the Holy Spirit came by a laying on of hands (usually by one of the apostles) instead of a tongue of fire. The variety of gifts, listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, included the sudden miraculous impartation of speaking in a tongue (another language), interpreting tongues (other languages), prophesying, and having a remarkable memory of Scripture with the ability to quote at length. With each of the Spirit-begotten brethren having at least one gift and thus contributing something to the whole, the brethren got a powerful lesson of how they needed one another for Bible study and edification. This evidence of the communal need for fellowship may have been one reason the disciples divided their properties later on, although, in time, experience proved that living in communes was inadvisable and impractical (Acts 4:34–5:11).

Why was fire so appropriate as a symbol? Fire was visible, and it represented illumination, energy, activity, and zeal. At one time, the Prophet Jeremiah was so depressed about the lack of attention being paid to the words the Lord had given him to speak that he thought, “Maybe I should refrain from speaking.” However, he could not contain himself because the Lord’s Word was in his bones like a consuming fire. The words kept building up and building up until they came out like a fire (Jer. 20:7-9). At the First Advent, Jesus said, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up [consumed me]” (John 2:17).

Comment: Two Scriptures come to mind. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10). Any power, or might, that is here on the earth is pale by comparison with the power of the Holy Spirit. Fire is a good symbol of the effectiveness of that power.

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

All who were present received a fiery “tongue,” the ability to speak a foreign language, but they did not all receive the same language. As a minimum, each of the disciples could now speak at least two languages, the previous language and a new (gift) language.

Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Jews gathered in Jerusalem to worship at the Temple on the Day of Pentecost (and for Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles). Those who came from a great distance surely did not go to the Temple on the very day of their arrival. For example, if the service began early in the morning, they would have to arrive the day before or the week before. And sometimes they stayed the week after the service, especially if they had made a long trip from a far country and wanted time to get acquainted with other Jews. Therefore, the “dwelling” of “devout men” at Jerusalem from “every nation under heaven” was mostly of a temporary nature—a sojourning, as it were, for an occasion. Some of the Jews came for Passover and then remained in the Jerusalem area for the 50 days until Pentecost. A 50-day stay would certainly be considered “dwelling” there.

These were “devout men” because the trip to Jerusalem was long and expensive and entailed sacrifice, sometimes requiring them to be away from their families for months. They could not travel from a distance every year and yet support a family, but they did the best they could under the circumstance.

Acts 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

The speaking in tongues for witnessing purposes occurred in the environs of Jerusalem at this Pentecostal season. Each one in the audience recognized his own language being spoken. With 1 to 2 million people coming for a feast, it was natural for families, friends, and all those of a certain race or language to lodge together. There were not enough rooms, so many slept outdoors and in tents, such as on the Mount of Olives, and gathered according to language and background for closer fellowship. As word spread about the apostles’ speaking in different languages, a larger group gathered to hear.

Acts 2:7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

Acts 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Basically speaking, the apostles were all Galileans, as revealed by their speech or accent in ordinary conversation. Therefore, the multitude were amazed to be able to “hear … every man in our own tongue.”

Acts 2:9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

Acts 2:10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Acts 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Acts 2:12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

Acts 2:13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

As all of the apostles (and some others too) were speaking in tongues, little groups formed around each of the brethren according to the language spoken. Thus multiple sermons on the truth were being preached simultaneously to various Jews from various places. The local residents of Judea also attended, but the Jews who gathered to hear were mostly from other lands.

Some of the hearers began to mock, accusing the apostles of being drunk. These mocking Jews were probably from Judea, that is, indigenous Israelites. Because they could not understand the foreign languages, they considered the different tongues to be babbling. But the Jews from other countries who heard the preaching in their own tongue were very attentive, and they marveled.

The Parthians, Medes, and Elamites were mostly from Asia Minor to the north and west. Cappadocia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia were also in Asia Minor (Turkey today). Jews came from all of the 15 or so places that are mentioned. With a tongue being spoken for each of the nationalities, the suggestion is that more than just the apostles spoke in tongues. Those who spoke in tongues to the multitude were probably all men, but the Holy Spirit rested on women too on the Day of Pentecost. All who consecrated in the early Church received a gift. In fact, if one did not get a gift back there, it was questionable whether the consecration was sincere. For example, when a man named Simon tried to buy the Holy Spirit in his insincerity, his request was denied (Acts 8:18-23).

We will digress a little and discuss certain aspects of speaking in tongues, as presented in Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries” (1 Cor. 14:2). The one who spoke in a tongue frequently understood the tongue and could communicate with God, but that type of communication was only self-edification between God and him. Paul said it was more important to edify others, and in edifying others, the individual also edified himself. But it was even more important to teach and to prophesy than to speak in a tongue (1 Cor. 14:1,3,4). Why? Because teaching implies a deeper understanding.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). The expression “tongues … of angels” means that literal angels have a literal language. It is probably the same language that was spoken by all people on earth prior to the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:6,7). Therefore, based on this Scripture, a person in the early Church might have the ability to speak the language “of angels,” which nobody down here could understand. A person was to keep quiet if no one in the congregation could understand or interpret the language being spoken (1 Cor. 14:28).

Since Paul could speak in multiple tongues, he visited many countries. He characteristically went first to the synagogue in a new area and then spoke to the Gentiles in their own tongue.

Tongues were a gift used to convince nonbelievers and to witness to them in their own language (1 Cor. 14:22).

Comment: If one spoke a language no one but God could interpret, then that tongue was to be spoken only to God in prayer.

If a foreign language was spoken to, say, three or four individuals out of a group of 15, an interpreter would then translate the message so that the rest would understand and benefit. Prophesying was the ability to take that which was translated and expound on its significance, correlating it to other Scriptures.

Because of the gifts, each one in an ecclesia in the early Church felt like an essential part of the whole. These encouraging experiences offset the persecutions and helped the brethren to maintain their faith.

Some apply what happened in the early Church to present-day conditions in an attempt to rationalize speaking that no one can understand. Sometimes tongues are genuine, sometimes they are fraudulent through pride or simulation, and sometimes they come through the Adversary. Tongues are not the method the Lord uses today.

Paul likened speaking in tongues to a child with a toy (1 Cor. 13:8-11). To deal with a child, we have to come down to the intellect of that youngster and use a rattle, a drum, baby talk, etc. As the child grows and matures, we can use more intelligence. Paul did not say that tongues had no validity, but he said that the Christian should go on to higher things.

Comment: The purpose is, and always has been, to edify. If one person out of a whole congregation needed a message, there would be no need to confuse the entire congregation.

God is not the author of confusion.

Reply: Tongues are used as an excuse today and are not valid. If we had a message for another person, we would single out that individual privately.

Comment: It would be frightening to be speaking and not know what we were saying.

Reply: Sometimes a message is true even though it comes from a fallen spirit. The spirit singles out an individual and capitalizes on the situation, using a spectacular method for a purpose that can be very misleading. An individual who feeds on such messages is not edified anymore than a baby matures with a rattle.

Comment: The following Scriptures are good regarding the place of tongues in the early Church: “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men…. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1 Cor. 14:18-20,22).

Reply: One duty of an elder in those days was to see that as many as possible were edified and to stop someone from speaking in a tongue that no one could understand. The gifts came almost invariably by the laying on of hands of the apostles, but there were exceptions. For example, Paul got his gifts from Ananias, who was not an apostle. He said he would rather speak five meaningful words that were edifying than 10,000 words that were not.

Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

Acts 2:15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

Acts 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Acts 2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

Acts 2:19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Let us assume that the mockers were Judeans who did not understand the foreign languages being spoken and felt the words were gibberish. When Peter overheard their snide remarks on the sideline, he was bestirred to speak out strongly to the native residents of Judea. He wanted to put the mockers in their place, and he started by saying the apostles were not drunk. One reason they were not drunk was that it was “but the third hour [9 a.m.] of the day.” This statement helps us to calculate time in the Book of Acts. For example, the sixth hour would be 12 noon. Although Peter was particularly addressing the Judean Jews on this issue, his sermon subsequently embraced all Israelites: “Ye men of Israel….” (Acts 2:22).

Next Peter quoted from Joel 2:28-32, paraphrasing to some extent, as was the custom, because there were no chapters or verses in the Old Testament. Peter was saying, “Joel spoke about what you are now seeing and experiencing. God said He would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.” The “all flesh” in this context would be the Medes, Parthians, Cappadocians, Elamites, etc. (Acts 2:9-11). In other words, Peter was saying, “There is universal representation here with Jews of all nations, as it were, coming to this feast and receiving a dispensation of grace in their own tongues.” (Paul also used this technique of giving a localized application to a text with a broader primary meaning yet to be fulfilled.)

Peter gave a strong message, but his application of Joel 2:28-32 was only a partial fulfillment. The primary fulfillment is still future, at the end of the age (“in the last days”). Just as the French Revolution was a mini-picture of things to come, so the application of Joel in Peter’s day was a mini-representation of what will occur in the future. Although we usually give a Gospel Age application to the phrase “in those days” in verse 18, it also has a future application. We usually apply this text to the Gospel Age Church, but that fulfillment is buried in the whole just like the prophecies of Babylon in Jeremiah Chapters 50 and 51, where some verses have already been fulfilled, some are yet future, and some have double fulfillments. The point is that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom will not be exclusive to the Jews. In time, the Holy Spirit will be poured out universally on a broad segment of the populace regardless of nationality, race, sex, or age. Young men will see visions, old men will dream dreams, and sons and daughters (children) will prophesy, sing songs, and have the spirit of happiness and joy.

“I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath.” Peter was referring to the supernatural signs in nature at the time of the Crucifixion, which were again a partial fulfillment of the Joel text. An earthquake occurred, and the resulting debris cloud darkened the sun from noon until 3 p.m.—midday! One proof that there was an earthquake is the rending of the Temple veil—something that had never happened before. Peter was pointing out to all, the signs that had occurred in that one day. (Incidentally, there was no eclipse at that time, contrary to what many think.) Although the fulfillment at the First Advent was very important, the Prophet Joel was speaking primarily of the end of the present age, as can be seen by actually studying the Book of Joel and seeing the breadth of the description.

As Peter applied verse 19, the expression “vapour of smoke” referred to the dark dust cloud from the earthquake that obscured the sunlight at the time of the Crucifixion. “The moon [being turned] into blood” means that the dust particles reddened the moon—a phenomenon that is sometimes very beautiful. The word “blood” may even refer to deaths that occurred in connection with the earthquake.

Q: Would those who heard Peter’s sermon and then lived for several decades have thought that the trouble of AD 69-70 was “that great and notable day of the Lord”?

A: Yes, and signs will precede the great day of the Lord yet future.

Comment: First, the listening Jews were startled to hear their own tongues being spoken by Galileans. Then Peter thundered on the prophecy from Joel. Next Peter said, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (verse 21). The subsequent words about Jesus would have had a powerful emotional effect on those whose hearts were right (see verses 22 and 23). Their consciences were affected.

Reply: Peter was using his tongue of fire. Verse 21 was the preface for the powerful conviction that he impressed upon the listeners in the next two verses. We should keep in mind, however, that the primary application is still future in regard to the Holy Remnant, who will be enjoined to “call on the name of the Lord … [and thus] be saved.”

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Now Peter began to address all in attendance including the sojourning Jews from foreign lands: “Ye men of Israel….” He pricked the consciences of devout Jews regarding the Crucifixion whether or not they lived in Israel proper.

Comment: This verse would be meaningless with the Trinity doctrine. God did miracles “by” or through the man Jesus. God did not do the miracles through Himself.

Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

When Jews from other places arrived for Pentecost, some heard for the first time what had happened 50 days previous. They heard contradictory reports, some favorable and some unfavorable, but now they were hearing the truth. “Men of Israel, ye have taken Jesus and crucified him by wicked hands” is the main thought of verses 22 and 23.

Q: Does the term “determinate counsel” refer to God’s predetermined plan?

A: The term reinforces God’s foreknowledge and indicates there was a purpose to the Crucifixion, namely, to save others through Jesus’ blood. The Crucifixion was necessary. Not only did Jesus acquiesce and allow himself to be taken, but even more emphatic, he came for that very purpose. God had a predetermined plan that Jesus should die. Jesus said, “Truly the Son of man goeth, as it was [pre]determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22:22). It was predetermined that Messiah would be a “man of sorrows” and that the curse would be upon him (Isa. 53:3). He had to die in order to provide a basis for salvation of both Jew and Gentile.

In God’s “counsel,” in His plan, it was necessary for Jesus to come to earth and die. All of the events in connection with the Crucifixion were predetermined and foreknown by God.

Foreknowledge is the ability to see something before it happens. To predetermine means to plan that something will happen. It was predetermined that Jesus would be numbered among the transgressors, for example (Isa. 53:12). In the Diaglott, “determinate counsel” is called a “fixed purpose.”

Acts 2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

In one sense, God raised Jesus out of death. In another sense, Jesus burst asunder the bonds of death.

Acts 2:25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

Acts 2:26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Acts 2:28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

In verses 25-28, the Apostle Peter quoted from Psalm 16, where David was prophetically speaking for Jesus. “I [Jesus] have set the LORD [Jehovah] always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved…. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Hebrew sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer [the flesh of] thine Holy One to see corruption [to corrupt in the normal fashion]” (Psa. 16:8,10). In Acts 2:27, the Greek word hades is used for “hell.” Hence Acts 2:27 is a proof text that hades and sheol are the same.

Stench usually accompanies the decaying process but not in Jesus’ case. Jesus’ flesh was not left to corrupt and decay, for it was miraculously extracted from the burial wrappings and dissolved into gases. “Linen clothes” had been wrapped continuously around the various members of Jesus’ body, and when John saw the grave clothes still in position but as a collapsed cocoon, he believed Jesus had risen (John 20:6-8).

Q: Since Jesus is at the Father’s right hand of power, why does Psalm 16:8 (and Acts 2:25) say the Father is at Jesus’ right hand?

A: There are two possibilities: (1) Acts 2:25 (Psa. 16:8) refers to Jesus’ position as the Father’s mouthpiece prior to glorification. When glorified, Jesus will be exalted not just as the Father’s mouthpiece but as the Father’s dear Son and honored agent in future works. (2) The Father was Jesus’ bosom benefactor, his closest friend. The two verses in question do not refer to the throne (as in Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 12:2; and 1 Peter 3:22) but are stated from a fellowship standpoint.

The earlier emphasis with the Logos was different—he and his Father were closest companions. The right hand is considered a position of favor. In regard to the throne of authority, Jesus is seated on the right hand of God’s power. Jehovah, being on the left in this circumstance, has the primacy. The position to the Father’s right is next in honor, command, and authority.

Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

Acts 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

Peter was saying that David is still in the tomb and that David’s son would be his Lord. “Of the fruit of his [David’s] loins” would come forth Messiah, who would be raised to sit on a heavenly throne.

Acts 2:32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Acts 2:33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

Acts 2:34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

Acts 2:35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Notice that Peter’s words were strong: “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that … ye have crucified” Jesus. Notice also the emphasis on the Father. God raised Jesus. God exalted Jesus. God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit. God made Jesus to be Lord and Christ. Trinitarians cannot explain verses 32, 33, and 36.

Jehovah said to Jesus (paraphrased), “Sit on my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” In the Old Testament as well as here in verse 34, the translators differentiated between “LORD” and “Lord.” Trinitarians do not explain this difference.

Peter said to the Jews who were listening, “Jesus shed forth the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which you now see and hear in our [the apostles’] ability to speak in tongues” (paraphrase). Again Peter stated that David is not in heaven (verses 29 and 34).

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Peter’s sermon in verses 14-36 had to be delivered with power and emphasis for so many to be “pricked [or pierced] in their heart” about the Crucifixion of Jesus. Peter’s words brought conviction, and in bringing conviction to a hazy subject, Peter had to be assisted by the Holy Spirit in annunciation, volume, proper emphasis, etc., for this was a new subject.

Q: At the end of this age, the Father will open the eyes of understanding of the Holy Remnant by His Spirit. Was the Holy Spirit also a factor back there at Pentecost? Since God can read the heart, would He have given individual help to understand? Most of those present were hearing these truths for the first time, so did God assist them so that the words would penetrate and a sizable nucleus would accept Christ at that point? In other words, was there an assist for the hearers as well as for Peter, who gave the sermon?

A: Yes, some providence was exercised in advance to make sure the right-hearted ones were present. They were individually guided to that spot so that there would be an almost unanimous reaction with “three thousand souls” accepting Christ (Acts 2:41). Then, too, most of these Jews were a “devout” element who had come from a distance at personal sacrifice.

Of the listening Jews from Israel, only a limited number would have been present at Jesus’ trial, so others must have beheld him on the Cross and been momentarily swayed by the circumstances that made Jesus look like a sinner. He was crucified on a cross, and the Scriptures say, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Deut. 21:22,23; Gal. 3:13). Of course they did not know that Jesus had to be considered a curse in order to have the penalty of Adam’s sin laid upon him and thus to take Adam’s place as the sinner. The Jews assumed that if God’s providence allowed Jesus to be crucified, then God must have approved of the guilty verdict.

Jesus had claimed to be the Son of God, but his crucifixion made him appear as a false Messiah. The Jews did not know the philosophy of the Ransom; they did not know that the perfect and innocent Jesus had to be a corresponding price for Adam. The reaction of the Jews at the time was understandable, but now that the Scriptures were being explained, they were repentant. After all, even the apostles, who had been properly instructed for 3 1/2 years were momentarily taken aback by the Crucifixion, so it is no wonder the other Jews reacted thus (Isa. 53:3). Those whose consciences were properly affected asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Peter instructed them, “Repent, and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Bible Students generally misunderstand this verse. The command was to repent and be baptized. The Pastor felt that Jews who consecrated could be transferred into Christ because they had already received John’s baptism, but Peter was urging baptism into Christ.

Comment: Based on the Harvest message, some reason that the Jew, up until the time of the conversion of Cornelius, needed only John’s baptism. And they say that Acts 2:38 refers to John’s baptism because it mentions the remission of sins, but this verse very clearly says “in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Reply: Both Jew and Gentile needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins in order to receive the Holy Spirit. The Jew did not just go from the Law to the Grace Covenant without repentance and remorse.

All who received the Holy Spirit got at least one gift. The eleven apostles were all on hand to help in baptizing the 3,000 (verse 41). The account does not say whether the apostles laid hands on each of the 3,000. However, the apostles’ hands had to touch the convert to immerse him in water, so this occasion was not an exception to the usual procedure.

Acts 2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Peter’s saying “the Lord our God” shows he was addressing fellow Jews. Another proof of a Jewish audience is the statement “unto you, and to your children.” “And to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” applies to Jews from other countries but also makes allowance for Gentiles later.

Acts 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Peter exhorted the Jews who were present, “Save yourselves from this untoward [crooked] generation.” Then “they that gladly received his word were baptized.” Not all who heard the sermon were baptized, but probably the great majority were in order to result in 3,000. Among those who were providentially guided to hear the sermon, there could have been compatriots who simply accompanied them as family members.

Comment: The sermon started at 9 a.m. in the morning. We do not know how “many other words” Peter spoke, but with 3,000 being baptized in one day, it is good the sermon started early in the morning. How beautiful to behold 3,000 being baptized on one occasion!

Comment: Imagine being part of the group of 3,000 whose hearts were pricked! The group emotionalism would have been very moving. And what a joy to Peter, who had denied the Lord not long before, to be the instrument of such blessing here!

Reply: Many of these Jews had come from a distance. They were a “devout” element, who sacrificed to go to Jerusalem (Acts 2:5).

The baptism would have been total immersion. It could have taken place in the Pool of Siloam or the Pool of Bethesda, which was a little larger.

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

The 3,000 “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” What a wonderful introduction into the body of Christ, and what a change, for prior to this incident, there were relatively few disciples! Holy reverence “came upon every soul.”

Comment: The beginning of the Gospel Age started with a miraculous group conversion, and the beginning of the Kingdom Age will likewise start with a miraculous group conversion, this time with the Holy Remnant. Both miraculous group conversions are with Jews.

Reply: Although only a small percentage of all Jews, the Holy Remnant will be a significant number of individuals. Most Israelites will die in the Time of Trouble at the end of this age, but they will come forth from the tomb very early and receive correctional judgment.

Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

Acts 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

With their “gladness and singleness of heart,” we can see their holy joy. To meet their natural needs, the brethren sold their possessions and put the results in a common pot for distribution as needed. Thus communal living prevailed in the early Church, but in time, it proved to be impractical.

There were 500 brethren in addition to the 3,000 (1 Cor. 15:6). “Breaking bread from house to house” implies that the local Christian Jews made their homes available for eating. The first part of verse 46 describes the spiritual gathering together: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple.” The rest of the verse describes how their temporal needs were taken care of. Communal eating was necessary because the brethren had sold their possessions, but of course the large group had to be split up.

Comment: Their food must have been simple (bread and fish?) so that they had as much time as possible for the spiritual.

Notice that they had “favour with all the people” (verse 47). The 3,000 new Christian converts were so joyous and wonderfully moved that their joy was contagious to those who beheld them, at least temporarily, until the preaching began.

“The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Selection was going on. God’s providence was steering people so that they would get the message and be able to consecrate intelligently.

(1991–1992 Study)

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