PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|The Coming of the Holy Spirit||Coming of the Holy Spirit||The Day of Pentecost||The Coming of the Holy Spirit||Pentecost|
|The Crowds Respond|
|Peter's Speech at Pentecost||Peter's Sermon||Peter's Sermon||Peter's Sermon||Peter's Address to the Crowd|
|The Call to Repentance||The First Conversions|
|A Vital Church grows||2:38-39|
|2:40-47||2:40-42||The Early Christian Conversions|
|Life Among the Believers||Life Among the Believers||2:42|
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one main subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
A. This is the first sermon of the New Age. Notice the OT quotes and allusions in chapter 2. Peter is preaching to Jews from all over the Mediterranean world. The Scriptures he chooses reflect Jesus' teachings of the two on the road to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:21-32) and His post-resurrection visits with the disciples (cf. Luke 24:45).
1. vv. 16-21 – Joel 2:28-32
2. vv. 25-28 – Psalm 16:8-11
3. v. 30 – an allusion to II Sam. 7:11-16 and Ps. 89:34 or 132:11
4. vv. 34-35 – Psalm 110:1
B. The fulfillment of Joel's eschatological prophecy is a physical manifestation that the judgment of God that withdrew His Spirit from Israel after Malachi (or the author of Chronicles) is over! The Spirit has returned in Great Commission power and purpose!
C. The confusion of languages from the Tower of Babel (cf. Genesis 11) is now reversed (at least symbolically). The New Age has begun.
D. For now the "tongues" of Acts are different from the tongues of Corinth. There is no need for an interpreter. The message is exclusively evangelistic.
Tongues in Acts are for believing Jews to recognize that God has accepted a new racial/geographical group of people into the Kingdom (i.e., Samaritans, Romans, etc.).
The Corinthian tongues fit the cultural model of the Delphi Oracle. They address God not humans (cf. I Cor. 14:2). They edify the speaker (cf. I Cor. 14:4). Please do not take these observations as negative in any sense to the Corinthian model (cf. I Cor. 14:5,18). I believe it is still an ongoing spiritual gift. However, because of the questions of I Cor. 12:28-29, which expect a "no" answer, they are not for every believer! See full notes on the subject at I Corinthians 12 and 14 at www.freebiblecommentary.org
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:1-4
1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
2:1 "Pentecost" This annual Jewish Feast is also called "Feast of Weeks" (cf. Exod. 34:22; Deut. 16:10). The term "Pentecost" means "fiftieth." This feast was held fifty days (seven weeks) after Passover (i.e., numbering from the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread). It had three purposes in Jesus' day:
1. commemoration of giving of the Law to Moses (cf. Jubliees 1:1)
2. thanksgiving to God for the harvest
3. an offering of the first fruits (i.e., a sign of YHWH's ownership of the whole harvest) of the grain harvest. The OT background is in Exod. 23:16-17; 34:22; Lev. 23:15-21; Num. 28:26-31 and Deut. 16:9-12.
NASB, NRSV"had come"
NKJV"had fully come"
This is literally "had been filled." It is a present passive infinitive. This was a divine appointment and fulfillment of divine purpose. It is used only in Luke's writings (cf. Luke 8:23; 9:51; here; and a similar metaphor in Luke 2:6). Human history is calendared by YHWH.
M. R. Vincent, Word Studies, vol. 1, p. 224, reminds us that the Jews saw the day as a container to be filled. The time of Pentecost had fully come! It was also the time of God's special inauguration of the Age of the Spirit, the beginning of the church.
▣ "they were all together in one place" This phrase implies unity of both place and mind (cf. 1:14). It is not certain where this occurred. It was probably in the "upper room" (cf. Acts 1:13; "house," v. 2), but at some point the Temple is involved in this experience (cf. Luke 24:53; size of group in v. 47).
2:2 "came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind" In this entire section the emphasis is on the sound, not the wind or fire. This is similar to Gen. 3:8. In the OT the word ruah (BDB 924) is used of breath, wind, and Spirit (cf. Ezek. 37:9-14); in the NT pneuma is used of wind and the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:5-8). The term wind in this verse is pnoē. It is used only here and in 17:25. The term pneuma is used of the Spirit in v. 4.
2:3 "tongues as of fire distributing themselves" The text appears to describe a sound and light event. The light-like fire was at first unified, but broke into separate manifestations and gathered on each believer. Each person in the Upper Room—Apostles, Jesus' family members, and disciples—had visible confirmation of their inclusion. The church was one!
The Feast of Pentecost had developed in Judaism as a celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai (when the tradition developed is uncertain, it was definitely by the second century a.d., but probably much earlier). Therefore, the loud wind and fire may be a reminder of the awesomeness of YHWH descending on Horeb (cf. Exod. 19:16).
In the OT fire symbolizes (1) the presence of deity; (2) judgement (cf. Isa. 66:15-18); or (3) purification (cf. Exod. 3:2; Deut. 5:4 and Matt. 3:11). Luke is using an analogy to try to express a unique occurrence of a physical manifestation of the Spirit. See Special Topic following.
▣ "each one of them" There was no distinction made between Apostles or disciples; men or women (cf. Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21).
2:4 "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" This event is mentioned in Luke 24:49 and called "the promise of My Father." "Filling" is repeatable (cf. 2:4; 4:8,31; 6:3,5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9). It implies daily Christlikeness (cf. Eph. 5:18 compared with Col. 3:16). This is different from baptism of the Spirit, which denotes the initial Christian experience or incorporation into Christ (cf. I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:4-5). Filling is the spiritual empowering for effective ministry (cf. Eph. 5:18-20), here evangelism! See note at 3:10.
In many ways some segments of Evangelicalism have reacted to what they see as excess in the area of spiritual experience and have depreciated the NT emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Two books that have helped me work through this issue are by Gordon Fee.
1. Gospel and Spirit
2. Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God
See full note at 5:17.
NASB, NKJV"began to speak with other tongues"
NRSV"began to speak in other languages"
TEV"talk in other languages"
NJB"began to speak in different languages"
Literally it is "other tongues" (heterais glōssais). The translation "different languages" reflects the understanding of this term based on the context of vv. 6 and 11. The other possible translation is "ecstatic utterances," based on I Corinthians 12-14 and possibly Acts 2:13. It is uncertain how many different languages were being spoken, but it was many. If you try to add up all the countries and regions in vv. 9-11 it must have been well over twenty. Several of the 120 believers must have spoken the same language.
God did something unique and powerful to inspire this small group of frightened men and women waiting in a locked upper room to become bold proclaimers of the gospel (both men and women). Whatever this initial sign of the coming of the promised Holy Spirit was, God also used it to confirm His acceptance of other groups (e.g., Samaritans, Roman army officers, and Gentiles). "Tongues" in Acts was always a sign to believers that the gospel had overcome another ethnic, geographical barrier. There is a distinctive difference between the tongues of Acts and Paul's later ministry in Corinth (cf. I Corinthians 12-14).
Theologically it is possible that Pentecost is the direct opposite of the tower of Babel (cf. Genesis 10-11). As prideful, rebellious humans asserted their independence (i.e., refusal to disperse and fill the earth), God implemented His will by the insertion of multiple languages. Now, in the new age of the Spirit, the nationalism which impedes humans from uniting (i.e., one world government of the eschaton) has for believers been reversed. Christian fellowship across every human boundary (i.e., age, sex, class, geography, language) is the reversal of the consequences of Genesis 3.
▣ "as the Spirit was giving them utterance" The verb is imperfect active indicative, meaning the Spirit began to give them. The word "utterance" (apophtheggomai) is a present passive (deponent) infinitive. This term is only used by Luke in Acts (cf. 2:4,14; 26:25). It is used in the Septuagint for the speaking of prophets (i.e., Spirit-inspired speech, cf. Deut. 32:2; I Chr. 25:1; Ezek. 13:9,19; Mic. 5:11; Zech. 10:2).
I prefer this interpretation to the Classical Greek etymological meaning "raised volume," "impassioned speaking," or "elevated rhetorical speaking." Luke knew the Septuagint and was influenced by its terminology. The Septuagint was the Bible of the Mediterranean world and became the Bible of the Church.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:5-13
5Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8"And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9"Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." 12And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine."
2:5 "devout" This term means "taking hold of something well" (cf. LXX Lev. 15:31; Micah 7:2). In the case of first century Judaism, it implies a reverence toward God and the traditions of the Elders (i.e., Oral Traditions, which became the Talmud). These were pious, religious men (cf. 8:2; 22:12; Luke 2:25). This is similar in meaning to "blameless" used of Noah and Job.
▣ "from every nation under heaven" All male Jews were strongly urged to attend the three major annual feast days (cf. Leviticus 23) at the Temple (cf. Deut. 16:16). There were
1. probably pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean area who had come to Jerusalem for Passover and stayed until Pentecost
2. permanent residents who had moved from somewhere outside of Jerusalem (cf. use of the word in 4:16; 7:24; 9:22,32)
This has great theological implications (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).
2:6 "when this sound occurred" This could refer to (1) the noise of the rushing wind (cf. v. 2) or (2) the believers speaking in other languages (cf. v. 4).
This same term is used in the Septuagint in Gen. 11:7,9, relating to the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel. I think Pentecost is the symbolic reversal of the nationalism begun at the Tower of Babel, first in punishment for mankind's sinful rejection of God's will to disperse and second for mankind's protection from a one-world government. The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 2, p. 172, further reinforces this view by the use of diamezizō in Acts 2:3, which is a rare term, but also used in the Septuagint of Deut. 32:8 for dispersion of the Tower of Babel. Believers are no longer separated by nationality! See note at 9:22.
▣ "the crowd came together" This implies that this occurred in the Temple area because a great crowd could not fit in a small upper room or in the small streets of Jerusalem.
▣ "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born" This may have been a miracle of hearing, not necessarily speaking (cf. vv. 8 and 11). If this many people, all speaking a different language, spoke at the same time it would be confusion. This is the theological reversal of The Tower of Babel (cf. Genesis11).
This is the Greek term dialektos (cf. v. 8), from which we get the English term "dialect." Luke uses this term often in Acts (cf. 1:19; 2:6,8; 21:40; 22:2; 26:14). It is used in the sense of "language." However, in this context, dialect may be the intended meaning. These Jews heard about Jesus in their mother dialect. This was meant to be a confirming sign to them of the truthfulness of the new message about God and its universal inclusion!
2:7,12 Notice all the different terms expressing high emotions in this context.
1. sunechō, "bewildered" (v. 6)
2. existēmi, "amazed" (v. 7)
3. thaumazō, "astonished" (v. 7)
4. diaporeō, "perplexed" (v. 12)
▣ "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans" This rhetorical question (expecting a "yes" answer) was asked because of their northern accent (i.e., dialect, cf. Matt. 26:73). The word "why" reflects the Greek term idou (behold), used twenty three times in Acts and Luke.
2:9 "Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia" All of these groups were from the Fertile Crescent (Mesopotamia), where Abraham was called from (Ur of the Chaldees, cf. Gen. 11:28) and from where Israel and Judah had been exiled (Assyrian, Babylonian).
▣ "Judea" Why is Judea listed between two other unrelated countries? Why is it listed without the article, which would be grammatically correct? Why would it surprise people of Judea that Galileans spoke Aramaic? Because of these questions many have that supposed an early scribal error has occurred and this term refers to another nation.
1. Tertullian, Augustine – Armenia
2. Jerome – Syria
3. Chrysostom, Erasmus – India
4. for several modern suggestions see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 293.
2:9-10 "Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia" These were groups from modern Turkey.
2:10 "Egypt and the district of Libya around Cyrene" These were groups from North Africa.
▣ "from Rome" Jewish pilgrims who were converted on this occasion may have been the origin of the church in Rome.
▣ "proselytes" This refers to Gentile converts to Judaism who were required
1. to keep the Mosaic law
2. that males be circumcised
3. to baptize themselves before witnesses
4. when possible to offer a sacrifice in the Temple
They were present in Jerusalem because all Jewish males were required to attend the three major feast days annually (cf. Exodus 23 and Leviticus 23).
2:11 "Cretans" This was a large island in the Mediterranean close to Turkey. It may have stood as a collective term for all the islands of the Aegean.
▣ "Arabs" This would refer to the descendants of Esau. There were numerous Arab tribes spread out across the southern Near East. This list represented to Jewish people of the first century the entire known world. It may be a metaphor similar to the seventy languages of the world as a Jewish symbol of all humanity (cf. Luke 10). This same idea is expressed in Deut. 32:8 in the LXX.
2:12 These pilgrims recognized this special event as a sign of significance. Peter seizes the moment to answer their questions.
2:13 "They are full" This is a Periphrastic perfect passive indicative, which asserts that these disciples had drunk themselves into a state of drunkenness and they remained intoxicated.
▣ "sweet wine" One explanation of the situation was that these followers of Jesus were drunk (cf. Eph. 5:18a). How did drunkenness explain the linguistic abilities? I am sure there was also an atmosphere of excitement and joy.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2: 14-21
14But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15"For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, ‘, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18Even on My bondslaves, both men and women will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. 19'And I will grant wonders in the sky above And signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20'The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. 21'And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
2:14 "Peter" Just think, of all the disciples, Peter was the one to preach the first Christian sermon! The one who denied knowing Jesus three times (cf. Luke 23)! Peter's change from cowardice and denial to boldness and spiritual insight is another evidence that the age of the Spirit had dawned with life-changing power. This is his first recorded sermon in Acts. It shows us the content and emphasis of the preaching of the Apostles. These apostolic sermons form an important part of Acts.
▣ "with the eleven" This shows two things: (1) Peter is the spokesman, but still part of the Apostolic group. He does not speak alone or on his own authority. The Spirit speaks uniquely through this whole group of called, eyewitnesses and (2) Matthias, though we know nothing about his ministry, has officially become part of the Apostolic group.
▣ "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem" The people addressed here seem to be different from the pilgrims delineated by nationality in vv. 7-11.
▣ "Let this be known to you and give heed" These are both imperatives. The first is a present active and the second an aorist middle (deponent). Peter wants their undivided attention.
This phrase is apparently a Semitic idiom. It is used twice to introduce Peter's sermons (cf. 2:14; 4:10) and twice with Paul (cf. 13:38; 28:28). Luke was a Gentile convert as an adult. This vestige of Semitic idioms shows that Luke does not create the sermons in Acts for his own theological purposes, but faithfully summarizes his sources.
2:15 "these men are not drunk" Peter, responding to the charge in v. 13, says it was too early for Orthodox Jews to drink wine. This follows the rabbinical interpretation of Exod. 16:8 (cf. E. M. Blaiklock, Tyndale NT Commentary Series, Acts, p. 58).
▣ "third hour" This would have been 9:00 a.m. It was the time of the daily morning sacrifice in the Temple. It had become a special prayer time for Jews. The "third hour" is a Jewish time indicator. New Testament authors (esp. John) use both Jewish and Roman time indicators.
2:16 "this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel" This is a quote from Joel 2:28-32 from the Septuagint. Jesus Himself may have been the source of identifying this prophetic passage as being fulfilled (cf. Luke 24:27,45).
2:17 "in the last days" This phrase is Luke's alteration of the Septuagint's text and should not be in capital letters. In the OT this phrase referred to the end of time and the coming of the Messianic Age. In the NT the "last days" referred to the overlapping of the two Jewish ages. The New Age began at Jesus' incarnation in Bethlehem and will last until His Second Coming. We live in the tension between "the already" and "the not yet" of the Kingdom of God. See Special Topic following.
▣ "God says" Codex Bezae, MS D, has kurios (Lord). Does Kurios refer to OT YHWH or to Jesus, the Messiah? It is surely possible that Theos (God) was a scribal attempt to clarify the speaker.
▣ "I will pour forth My Spirit on all mankind" Note the universal element (cf. v. 39). All the old traditional barriers are down in Christ (cf. I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 3:6; Col. 3:11). Although no Jew-Gentile distinction is mentioned in Joel 2, notice v. 38, which implies no distinctions. YHWH is sharing His Spirit with all humans made in His image (literally, "all flesh"), which is asserted in Gen. 1:26-27.
▣ "sons and your daughters shall prophesy. . .both men and women, I will pour forth My Spirit" This may be a specific fulfillment of Num. 11:29. Note that there is no gender distinction.
▣ "prophecy" There are at least two ways to understand this term: (1) in the Corinthian letters this term refers to sharing or proclaiming the gospel (cf. 14:1; Acts 2:17) (2) the book of Acts mentions prophets (cf. 12:27; 13:1; 15:32; 22:10, even prophetesses, 21:9), who predict the future (see Special Topic at 11:27).
The problem with this term is, how does the NT gift of prophecy relate to OT prophets? In the OT prophets are the writers of Scripture. In the NT this task is given to the original twelve Apostles and their helpers. As the term "apostle" is retained as an ongoing gift (cf. Eph. 4:11) but with a changed tasks after the death of the Twelve, so too, the office of prophet. Inspiration has ceased, there is no further inspired Scripture (cf. Jude 3,20). New Testament prophets' primary task is the proclamation of the gospel, but also a different task, possibly how to apply NT truths to current situations and needs.
▣ "young men. . .old men" Note that there is no age distinction.
2:18 "even on my bondslaves" Notice that there is no socioeconomic discrimination. Peter has added the term "prophesy" to Joel's prophecy. It is not in the Masoretic Hebrew text or the Greek Septuagint, but it is implied from v. 17.
As Luke 24 (vv. 3,6,12,17,32,36,40,51) has several textual variants, so too, Acts (i.e., 2:11,18,37,44). These variants are often related to a shorter text found in MS D (Bezae from the 5th century) and in a few Old Latin versions (itd from the 5th century). Usually this western family of Greek manuscripts adds phrases, but in Luke/Acts it has the shorter readings. Most English translations include all the Alexandrian family of manuscripts' longer version.
See Introduction to Acts, "Opening Statements," E.
2:19-20 This is apocalyptic language, which is obvious because Peter asserts that this was fulfilled, yet none of these specific natural phenomena occurred, except possibly the darkness while Jesus was on the cross. It speaks in figurative language of the coming of the Creator and Judge. In the OT His comings may be for blessing or judgment. All creation convulses at His approach (cf. Isa. 13:6ff and Amos 5:18-20). In the OT prophecy there is no obvious distinction between the Incarnation (first coming) and the Parousia (second coming). The Jews were expecting only one coming and that of a powerful Judge/Deliverer. A very helpful book on apocalyptic language is D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking Prophetic and Apocalyptic Language.
2:20 "the Great and Glorious Day of the Lord" The term "glorious" is from the same root as epiphaneia, which is often used of Jesus' Second Coming (cf. I Tim. 6:14; II Tim. 4:1; Titus 2:13). See Special Topic following.
2:21 "everyone" Here is the universal element again (cf. vv. 17 and 39). Jesus died for the sin/sins of the entire world (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; 4:42; I Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11; II Pet. 3:9; I John 2:1; 4:14). Notice the Spirit is poured on all mankind (cf. v. 17).
▣ "who calls" This is an aorist middle subjunctive. Human response is part of God's plan for salvation (cf. Joel 2:32; John 1:12, 3:16; and Romans 10:9-13). Individual human beings are called (cf. 2:39) on to repent (cf. 2:38) and believe the gospel, and to enter into a personal relationship with God through Christ (cf. 3:16,19; 20:21; Mark 1:15). Jesus died for the whole world; the mystery is why some respond to the Spirit's wooing (cf. John 6:44,65) and some do not (cf. II Cor. 4:4).
▣ "on the name of the Lord" This refers to the character of Jesus or teachings about Him. It has both the personal and doctrinal element.
▣ "will be saved" In this context, this refers to spiritual salvation, while in Joel it probably meant physical deliverance from God's wrath (cf. v. 40). The term "saved" is used in the OT of physical deliverance (cf. Matt. 9:22; Mark 6:56; James 5:14,20). However, in the NT it was used metaphorically of spiritual salvation or deliverance from God's wrath (ex. James 1:21; 2:14; 4:12). God's heart beats for the salvation of all men and women made in His image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27); made for fellowship!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:22-28
22"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know --23this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24"But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. 25"For David says of Him, ‘I saw the Lord always in my presence; For He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 26'Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; Moreover my flesh also will live in hope; 27Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 28'You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.'
2:22 "Men of Israel" These hearers were eyewitnesses to the events of the last week of Jesus' earthly life. They had first-hand knowledge of what Peter was talking about. Those who had spiritual insight responded to the gospel, about three thousand to the first sermon (cf. v. 41).
▣ "listen" This is an aorist active imperative. The Spirit's physical manifestation got their attention; now comes the gospel message.
▣ "Jesus the Nazarene" It is often assumed that this is just a parallel to "Jesus of Nazareth." But, this is a rather unusual way to express this. It is just possible that this phrase reflects the Messianic title, "the Branch" (BDB 666, cf. Isa. 4:2; 6:13; 11:1,10; 14:19; 53:2; Jer. 23:5; 33:15-16; Zech. 3:8; 6:12-13). The Hebrew term for "branch" is nezer.
▣ "a man attested to you by God" Jesus is surely human (i.e., v. 23; Rom. 1:3), as well as divine (cf. I John 4:1-3).
This is a perfect passive participle. The term means "shown by demonstration." God has clearly and repeatedly revealed Himself in Jesus' words, deeds, and lifestyle. These Jerusalem hearers had seen and heard!
▣ "with miracles and wonders and signs" These hearers were eyewitnesses of all that Jesus did in Jerusalem the last week of His life.
The term "wonders" (teras) meant an unusual sign, usually occurring in the heavens, like vv. 19-20.
The term "signs" (sēmeion) denotes a special event which conveys meaning or significance. This is a key term in John's Gospel (seven special signs, cf. 2:1-11; 4:46-54; 5:1-18; 6:1-15,16-21; 9:1-41; 11:1-57). Signs are not always seen in a positive light (cf. John 2:18; 4:48; 6:2). Here it is used as a series of power manifestations which reveal that the new age of the Spirit has begun!
It is interesting that Peter does not spend any time in the first sermon (at least the summary in Acts 2) about Jesus' early life and teachings. The fulfillment of OT prophecy, His predetermined sacrificial death, and His glorious resurrection are the main points.
2:23 "This man" This may be an idiom of contempt (cf. 5:28; 6:13; Luke 23:14; John 9:16; 18:29), but in Acts 23:9 and 20:31-32it is not a negative idiom. Again the humanity of Jesus is emphasized (cf. v. 22)
▣ "delivered over" This term (ekdotos) is found only here in the NT.
NASB"the predetermined plan"
NKJV"the determined counsel"
NRSV"the definite plan"
TEV"God's own plan"
NJB"the deliberate intention"
This is the term horizō in its perfect passive participle form. Its basic meaning is to determine, to appoint, or to fix. In the OT it is used of setting boundaries of land or desires. Luke uses it often (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 10:42; 11:29; 17:26,31). The cross was not a surprise to God, but had always been His chosen mechanism (i.e., sacrificial system of Leviticus 1-7) for bringing redemption to rebellious humanity (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53:10; Mark 10:45; II Cor. 5:21).
Jesus' death was no accident. It was the eternal, redemptive plan of God (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 3:18; 4:28; 13:29; 26:22-23). Jesus came to die (cf. Mark. 10:45)! The cross was no accident!
▣ "foreknowledge of God" This is the term prognosis (to know before), used only here and in I Pet. 1:2. This concept of God's knowing all of human history is difficult for us to reconcile with human free will. God is an eternal, spiritual being who is not limited by temporal sequence. Although He controls and shapes history, humans are responsible for their motives and acts. Foreknowledge does not affect God's love and election. If so, then it would be conditional on future human effort and merit. God is sovereign and He has chosen that His Covenant followers have some freedom of choice in responding to Him (cf. Rom. 8:29; I Pet. 1:20).
There are two extremes in this area of theology: (1) freedom pushed too far: some say God does not know the future choices and actions of humans (Open Theism, which is a philosophical extension of Process Thought) and (2) sovereignty pushed too far, which becomes God choosing some to heaven and some to hell (supralapsarianism, double-edged Calvinism). I prefer Psalm 139!
▣ "you" Peter asserts the guilt and duplicity for Jesus' death to these Jerusalem hearers (cf. 3:13-15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:39; 13:27,28). They were not part of this rabble that called for His crucifixion; they were not members of the Sanhedrin that brought Him to Pilate; they were not Roman officials or soldiers who crucified Him, but they are responsible, as we are responsible. Human sin and rebellion forced His death!
▣ "nailed to a cross" Literally this is the term "fastening" (prospēgnumi). It is used only here in the NT. It implies both a nailing and a tying to a cross. In 5:30 the same process was described as "hanging on a tree." The Jewish leaders did not want Jesus stoned for blasphemy as Stephen later was (cf. Acts 7), but they wanted Him crucified (Louw and Nida say this hapax legomenon may be equivalent to stauroō, crucify, [p. 237 footnote 9]). This was probably connected to the curse of Deut. 21:23. Originally this curse related to public impaling and improper burial, but by Jesus' day the rabbis had linked it to crucifixion. Jesus bore the curse of the OT law for all believers (cf. Gal. 3:13; Col. 2:14).
▣ "godless men" Literally this is "lawless men" and refers to the Romans.
2:24 "God raised Him" The NT affirms that all three persons of the Trinity were active in Jesus' resurrection:
1. the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:11)
2. the Son (cf. John 2:19-22; 10:17-18)
3. and most frequently the Father (cf. Acts 2:24,32; 3:15,26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30,33,34,37; 17:31; Rom. 6:4,9)
The Father's actions were confirmation of His acceptance of Jesus' life, death, and teachings. This was a major aspect of the early preaching of the Apostles. See Special Topic: The Kerygma at 2:14.
▣ "putting an end to the agony of death" This term can mean (1) literally, birth pains (Classical Greek, cf. Rom. 8:22) (2) metaphorically the problems before the Second Coming (cf. Matt. 24:8; Mark 13:8; I Thess. 5:3). Possibly it reflects the Hebrew terms "snare" or "noose" in Ps. 18:4-5 and 116:3, which were OT metaphors of judgment (cf. Isa. 13:6-8; Jer. 4:31).
▣ "since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power" John 20:9 also links Jesus' resurrection to OT prophecy (cf. vv. 25-28). Jesus went to Hades for a purpose (cf. I Pet. 3:19; 4:6). When He left He took the righteous believers with Him (cf. II Cor. 5:6,8)!
2:25 "For David says of Him" This is a quote from Ps. 16:8-11. Peter is asserting that Psalm 16 is Messianic (as does Paul in 13:36; these are the only two quotes of Psalm 16 in the NT) and that it refers directly to Jesus. Jesus' resurrection is the Psalmists hope and the NT believer's hope.
2:26 "hope" This term is not used in the Gospels, but is used in Acts to describe the faith of believers in the future consummation of the gospel promises (cf. 23:6; 24:15; 26:6,7; 28:20). It is used often in Paul's writing, but in several senses connected to the eternal redemptive plan of God. See Special Topic following.
2:27 "hades" This is the Greek term for the holding place of the dead. It is equivalent to the Hebrew term Sheol in the OT. In the OT the afterlife was described as a conscious existence with one's family, but there was no joy or fellowship. Only the progressive revelation of the NT more clearly defined the afterlife (i.e., heaven and hell).
▣ "‘Nor allow your holy one to undergo decay'" This was an obvious Messianic reference relating to the death, but not corruption of the Promised One, the Anointed One, the Holy One (cf. Ps. 49:15 and 86:13).
2:28 "you will make me full of gladness with your presence" This phrase implies a personal, joyful experience with the Father (vv. 22-28) in heaven by means of the death of the Messiah (cf. Isa. 53:10-12). This same positive view of personal fellowship with God in the afterlife is recorded in Job 14:14-15; 19:25-27.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:29-36
29"Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30"And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32"This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33"Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34"For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."' 36"Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified."
2:29-31 It is not easy for modern western readers to follow Peter's analysis of this Psalm because he is using rabbinical hermeneutical procedures (this is also true of the book of Hebrews). Peter may have heard this argument in the synagogue for the coming Messiah and now knows it refers to Jesus of Nazareth.
2:29 Peter shows that Psalm 16, although in some ways referring to David (especially 16:10b), cannot completely refer to David.
2:30 "he was a prophet" The Jews believed that God spoke through prophets. Moses is called a prophet (cf. Deut. 18:18). The OT books of Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel, and I and II Kings were known in the Jewish canon as "the former prophets." After the death of the last prophet, Malachi, the rabbis considered revelation as ceasing. It was in this Jewish sense of the term (i.e., Scripture writer) that David is considered a prophet. Earlier in the OT God had revealed to Moses (cf. Genesis 49) that the Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah. In II Samuel 7 God revealed that He would be of the royal line of David. In Psalm 110 God further revealed that He would also be of the priestly line of Melchizedek (cf vv. 34-35).
▣ "God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne" This is a summary or composite reference to II Sam. 7:11-16; Ps. 89:3-4; or 132:11. This shows that God's ancient intent is to be fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. His death and resurrection were not plan B, but God's pre-determined, pre-creation plan of redemption (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13).
2:31 "the Christ" This is the Greek translation of "the Messiah" or literally "the Anointed One." Not only was Jesus son of David, King of Israel, but Son of God and seated on the heavenly throne (cf. Psalm 110).
▣ "He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay" This is not marked off as an OT quote in the 1995 NASB (updated) text. It is obviously referring to Psalm 16.
For "flesh" see Special Topic below.
2:32-33 "Jesus. . .God. . .Spirit" Although the word "trinity" is never used in the Bible, the concept of a triune God is demanded by (1) the deity of Jesus and (2) the personality of the Spirit. The Bible communicates this concept by mentioning the three persons of the Trinity in a single context (cf. Acts 2:32-33; Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 12:4-6; II Cor. 1:21-22; 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6 and I Pet. 1:2).
2:32 "This Jesus God raised up again" See full note at 2:24.
▣ "to which we are all witnesses" This refers to those who saw the resurrected Christ. See chart of the post-resurrection appearances from Paul Barnett, Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity, p. 185, at 1:3 (p. 9).
2:33 "to the right hand of God" This is an anthropomorphic metaphor for the place of power, authority, and intercession (cf. I John 2:1), which is taken from Ps. 110:1 (quoted more than any other Psalm in the NT) or Ps. 118:16. God is eternal Spirit, present throughout physical and spiritual creation. Humans must use earth-bound language and concepts to speak of Him, but they are all (1) negations (2) analogies or (3) metaphors. Even the word "Father" to describe God or "Son" to describe Jesus are metaphorical. All metaphors break down at some point. They are meant to convey a central truth or concept about deity. Be careful of literalness! Surely you do not expect to see an old man, a young man on a throne and a white bird circling overhead when you get to heaven. See Special Topic following.
▣ "the promise of the Holy Spirit" The OT promised a new day of Spirit-led righteousness, made operative by the work of the Messiah.
1. John 7:39, the new day has arrived
2. Gal. 3:14, the blessing of Abraham (cf. Gen. 12:3) is now available to the whole world
3. Eph. 1:13, believers in this new age are sealed by the Spirit.
▣ "which you both see and hear" This is the continuing emphasis in this sermon on the eyewitness nature of these hearers (cc. 14,22,32,33,36). They knew what Peter said was true because they were there. Lawyers call this primary source evidence.
2:34 "the Lord said to my lord" This is a quote from Psalm 110:1 (YHWH...Adon). Jesus uses it in Matt. 22:41-46. In the NT it shows the dual aspect of the kingdom; Jesus is already at God's right, but His enemies are not yet His footstool. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE KINGDOM OF GOD at 1:3.
2:36 "Let all the house of Israel" This refers to the Jewish leadership and people, the very ones Peter is addressing. He is asserting that OT prophecy is fulfilled and culminated in Jesus of Nazareth. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE KINGDOM OF GOD at 1:3.
NASB"know for certain"
NRSV"know with certainty"
TEV"know for sure"
NJB"can be certain"
This reflects two Greek words, the adverb aphalōs, which means "to fasten securely" (metaphorically with certainty, cf. 16:23) and the present active imperative of ginōskō, "to know." These eyewitnesses of Jesus' last week, death, and resurrection could have no doubt about the truthfulness of Peter's words.
▣ "Lord and Christ" The term "lord" (kurios) can be used in a general sense or in a specific theological sense (cf. v. 21). It can mean "mister," "sir," "master," "owner," "husband," or "the full God-man." The OT usage of this term (adon) came from the Jews' reluctance to pronounce the covenant name for God, YHWH, from the Hebrew verb "to be" (cf. Exod. 3:14). They were afraid of breaking the commandment which said, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (cf. Exod. 20:7, Deut. 5:11). They thought if they did not pronounce it, they could not take it in vain. So, they substituted the Hebrew wordadonai, which had a similar meaning to the Greek word, Kurios (Lord). The NT authors used this term to describe the full Deity of Christ. The phrase "Jesus is Lord" was the public confession of faith and baptismal formula of the early church (cf. Rom. 10:9-13; I Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11). See Special Topic: Names for Deity at 1:6.
"Christ" was the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term messiah, which meant "an anointed one" (cf. 2:31,36; 3:18,20; 4:26; 5:42; 8:5; 9:22; 17:3; 18:5,28; 26:23). It implied "one called and equipped by God for a specific task." In the OT three groups of leaders: priests, kings, and prophets, were anointed. Jesus fulfilled all three of these anointed offices (cf. Heb. 1:2-3). See SPECIAL TOPIC: MESSIAH at 2:31.
By using both of these OT titles for Jesus of Nazareth, Luke asserts both His deity (cf. Phil. 2:6-11, see Special Topic at 2:32) and His Messiahship (cf. Luke 2:11). This surely sets the stage for the proclamation (kerygma) of the other sermons in Acts!
See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE KERYGMA OF THE EARLY CHURCH at 2:14.
▣ "this Jesus whom you crucified" Peter accused these inhabitants of Jerusalem with duplicity in Jesus' death. All fallen humans are equally involved in the guilt. See note at 2:23.
▣ "this Jesus" The designation "this Jesus" (cf. 2:23,32,36) links Peter's proclamation of the historical Jesus to the resurrected, exalted Christ. Both concepts are true. There is no biblical distinction between the early Jesus and the Jesus of faith!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:37-42
37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39"For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
2:37 "they were pierced to the heart" This is the Greek term kata plus nussō. The root word is used in John 19:34 for Jesus being nailed to the cross. Peter's sermon nailed these hearers to the truth of the gospel. This obviously refers to the necessary conviction of the Holy Spirit which precedes salvation (cf. John 16:8-11; Rom. 3:21-31).
2:38 "Repent" This is an aorist active imperative, which means make a decisive decision. The Hebrew term for repentance meant a change of action. The Greek term meant a change of mind. Repentance is a willingness to change. It does not mean a total cessation of sin, but a desire to please God, not self. As fallen humanity we live for ourselves, but as believers we live for God! Repentance and faith are God's requirements for salvation (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16, 19; 20:21). Jesus said "Unless you repent, you will all perish" (cf Luke. 13:3,5). Repentance is God's will for fallen man (cf. II Pet. 3:9, Ezek. 18:23, 30, 32). The mystery of the sovereignty of God and human free will can be clearly demonstrated by repentance as a requirement for salvation. However, the paradox or dialectic pair is that it is also a gift of God (cf. 5:31; 11:18 and II Tim. 2:25). There is always a tension in the biblical presentation of God's initiating grace and humanity's needed covenantal response. The new covenant, like the old covenant, has an "if. . .then" structure. There are several terms used in the NT which relate to the concept of repentance.
▣ "be baptized" This is another aorist passive imperative. See Special Topic following.
▣ "in the name of Jesus Christ" This is a Hebrew idiom (reflected in Joel 2:32) which refers to the person or character of Jesus. It may be that the early church's baptismal formula, which was probably repeated by the candidate, was "I believe Jesus is Lord" (cf. Rom. 10:9-13; I Cor. 1:13,15). This was both a theological affirmation and a personal trust affirmation. In the Great Commission of Matt. 28:19-20 the triune name is the baptismal formula. Again we must guard against a mechanical sacramentalism! The title or formula is not the key, but the heart of the one being baptized.
For "Christ" see Special Topic at 2:31.
NIV"for the forgiveness of your sins"
NKJV"for the remission of sins"
NRSV"so that your sins may be forgiven"
TEV"so that your sins will be forgiven"
The theological question is how does "for" (eis) function? Is forgiveness linked to "repent" or "be baptized"? Is forgiveness dependent on repentance and/or baptism?
The possible uses of eis are multiple. The most common use is "with a view to" or "for this purpose of." Most Baptist scholars choose "because of" for theological reasons, but it is a minor option. Often our presuppositions even function at this grammatical analysis level. We must let the Bible speak in context; then check the parallels; then form our systematic theologies. All interpreters are historically, denominationally, and experientially conditioned.
Forgiveness through faith in Christ is a recurrent theme in these sermons in Acts (i.e., Peter 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 10:43; and Paul 13:38).
▣ "receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" This is a Future middle (deponent) indicative. The gift of the Spirit was
1. an assured salvation
2. an indwelling presence
3. an equipping for service
4. a developing Christlikeness
We must not push the items or the order of the events of salvation because they are often different in Acts. Acts was not meant to teach a standard formula or theological sequence (cf. How To Read the Bible for All Its Worth, pp. 94-112), but record what happened.
Should an interpreter use this text to assert a sequence of salvation acts: repent, be baptized, forgiveness, and then the gift of the Spirit? My theology demands the Spirit as active from the first (cf. John 6:44,65) and crucial all through the process of conviction (cf. John 16:8-12), repentance (cf. 5:31; 11:18; II Tim. 2:25), and faith. The Spirit is primary and necessary (cf. Rom. 8:9) from start to finish. He certainly cannot be last in a series!
One of the books that has helped me shed my denominational indoctrination and let the Bible speak with power is F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions. In it he makes several good comments about Acts 2:38. One that grabbed me is:
"This reception of the spirit might be experienced before baptism (Acts 10:44), after baptism (Acts 2:38), or after baptism plus the laying on of apostolic hands (Acts 8:16; 19:54)" (p. 167).
Moderns want clear statements of doctrine which can be affirmed, but usually they react to a "proof-text" method of interpretation and isolate only those texts that fit their pre-understanding, biases (see seminar on Biblical Interpretation, www.freebiblecommentary.org )
2:39 "the promise is for you and your children" This was an OT corporate, multi-generational, familial concept (cf. Exod. 20:5-6 and Deut. 5:9-10; 7:9). The faith of the children was affected by the parents and was the parents' responsibility (cf. Deut. 4:9; 6:6-7; 20-25; 11:19; 32:46). This corporate influence also has a frightful aspect in light of Matt. 27:25 ("His blood be on us and our children").
The promise of multi-generational faith influence helps me trust that God will use my faith to influence, bless, and protect my descendants (cf. Deut. 7:9). This does not deny personal responsibility, but adds an element of corporate influence. My faith and faithful service in Christ does impact my family and their family and so forth (cf. Deut. 7:9). What a comforting hope and motivational promise. Faith runs through families!
In Acts the promise (2:39) of God involves several items with OT links:
1. forgiveness of sins – 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38-39; 26:18
2. salvation – 2:21; 4:12; 11:14; 13:26; 16:31
3. the Spirit – 2:38-39; 3:19; 5:32; 8:15-18; 10:44-48; 19:6
4. times of refreshing – 3:19
▣ "for all who are far off" Peter is addressing Jewish people. This phrase originally referred to exiled Jews who would be brought back to the Promised Land (cf. Isa. 57:19). However, it also, in some passages, seemed to refer to the Gentiles who were so far from a knowledge of YHWH (cf. Isa. 49:1; Zech. 6:15). The good news of the gospel is that the one true God (i.e., monotheism) who created all humans in His image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27), desires to have fellowship with all of them (cf. I Tim. 2:4; II Pet. 3:9). This is the hope of the unity of all humans in Christ. In Him there are no more Jews-Gentiles, slaves-free, men-women, but all are one (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13). Paul uses this very quote addressing Gentiles in Eph. 2:13 & 17. The new age of the Spirit has brought an unexpected unity!
▣ "as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself" This is an aorist middle (deponent) subjunctive. It originally referred to scattered Judaism. God always takes the initiative (middle voice, cf. John 6:44,65). From Ezek. 18:32; John 3:16; I Tim. 2:4; II Pet. 3:9 we know He calls all humans, at some level, to Himself. But, they must respond (i.e., subjunctive mood).
The terms "many" and "all" are biblically parallel (compare Isa. 53:6, "all" with Isa. 53:11,12, "many" or Rom. 5:18, "all" with Rom. 5:19, "many"). God's heart beats for a lost humanity made in His image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27), created for fellowship with Him (cf. Gen. 3:8)!
2:40 "with many other words" This is textual evidence that the sermons recorded in Acts are summaries. This is also true of Jesus' teaching and preaching in the Gospels. We presuppositionally affirm the inspiration and accuracy of these summaries. The first century world was accustomed to oral presentations and their retention.
▣ "solemnly testified" This Greek term (dia plus marturomai) is popular with Luke (cf. 2:40; 8:25; 10:42; 18:5; 20:21,23,24; 23:11; 28:23; Luke 16:28). The gospel has an urgency and ultimacy that cannot be ignored in either proclamation or hearing.
▣ "kept on exhorting them" Man must respond to God's offer in Christ (cf John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9-13). This is the paradox of God's sovereignty and human free will (cf. Phil. 2:12-13).
NASB, NKJV"Be saved"
The inflected form of this term is aorist passive imperative, but as you can tell, NRSV, TEV, and NJB translate it as middle voice. This is the theological tension concerning salvation (cf. Phil. 2:12-13). Is it all of God, or must the hearer allow God to work in his/her life?
The Greek term "saved" (sōsō) reflects a Hebrew concept (yasha, BDB 446, cf. Exod. 14:30) of physical deliverance (cf. James 5:15,20), while in the NT usage it takes on the connotation of spiritual deliverance or salvation (cf. James 1:21; 2:14; 4:12).
▣ "this perverse generation" This may be an allusion to Deut. 32:5 and Ps. 78:8. The OT root for the terms "right," "righteous," "just," "justice" was "a river reed" (see Special Topic at 3:14). It became a construction metaphor, a measuring reed, or straight standard. God chose this metaphor to describe His own character. God is the standard! Most of the words for sin in Hebrew and Greek refer to a deviation from this standard (i.e., crooked, perverse). All humans need to be saved and restored.
This is an aorist middle participle of apodechomai. Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon, list three uses of this term (cf. vol.2, p. 28).
1. welcome a person
2. accept something or someone as true and respond appropriately
3. acknowledge the truth or value of something or someone
Luke uses this word often (cf. Luke 8:40; 9:11; Acts 2:41; 18:27; 24:3; 28:30). The gospel is a person to be welcomed, truth about that person to believe, and a life like that person's to live. All three are crucial.
▣ "were baptized" Baptism was a religious expectation for Jews as they entered the temple. Proselytes were self-baptized. This was an expected religious event for these hearers but with new meaning. Jesus was baptized (Matt. 3:13-17); Jesus commanded us to baptize (Matt. 28:19)—that settles that! The NT knows nothing of unbaptized believers. It seems to me that this was a clear break with Judaism and the start of the new people of God (i.e., the Church, cf. Gal. 6:16).
▣ "three thousand souls" This is a round number, but a large number. Peter's message struck home to these eyewitnesses. They were ready to make the leap of faith required to believe.
1. Jesus was the Messiah
2. the Messiah was meant to suffer
3. faith in Him was the only way to forgiveness
4. baptism was appropriate
This required a decisive, immediate, life-changing decision (as it does today)! See Special Topic: Kerygma at 2:14.
2:42 "They were continually devoting themselves" Luke uses this concept often (cf. 1:14; 2:42,46; 6:4; 8:13; 10:7). Notice the things they did when together:
1. teaching (cf. 2:42; 4:2,18; 5:21,25,28,42)
3. breaking of bread (i.e., this possibly refers to the Lord's Supper, see note at v. 46)
4. prayer (cf. vv. 43-47)
These are the things we must teach new believers! These new converts were hungry for truth and community. See Special Topic following.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:43-47
43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
2:43-47 This seems to be the first of many editorial comments by Luke (i.e., 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20). See Introduction, "Purpose and Structure," A.
2:43 "Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe" This is an imperfect passive (deponent) indicative. We get the English "phobia" from this term "awe" or "fear." God's presence and power caused a holy atmosphere, even unsaved sinners were aware of the sacredness of the time and place!
2:44 "all those who had believed" See note at 3:16.
▣ "and had all things in common" This early experiment in "community" was not successful (cf. 4:32-5:11). It was not meant to be a universal principle, but an attempt at a loving, mutually supportive community or faith. This is a good example that not everything recorded in the Bible is meant to be universally implemented! These early believers had a great love for one another. Oh, that we could regain this love and sense of the presence and power of God among us (cf. John 17:11,21,22,23)!!
2:46 "with one mind" The early church was characterized by this unity of purpose (cf. 1:14; 2:46; 4:24; 5:12). This is not to say that they agreed on everything, but that their hearts and minds were knit together in kingdom priorities instead of personal preferences or agendas.
▣ "in the temple" They probably met in "Solomon's portico" (cf 3:11; 5:12). Jesus taught there (cf. John 10:23). Solomon's Portico or porch was a covered colonnade along the east side of the outer court of the Gentiles in Herod's Temple (cf. Josephus' Antiq. 15.11.3). Rabbis taught there. People regularly gathered there to hear teaching.
Notice the early church attended the temple and probably the local synagogues until the rabbis instituted a curse formula (about a.d. 70), which forced synagogue members to curse Jesus. This caused the break between the church and Judaism. The early believers maintained their weekly worship, but also met on Sunday to commemorate Jesus' resurrection. Remember, Jesus Himself met with the disciples, three Sunday nights in a row.
▣ "breaking bread from house to house" If "breaking bread" was a technical designation for the Lord's Supper (cf. Luke 22:19 and esp. in contexts of agape meals [I Cor. 11:17-22; II Pet. 2:13-14; Jude v. 12] in the early church, ex. Acts 20:7), then this refers to daily communion in local homes (but it must be admitted that it is also used of a regular meal in Luke 24:30,35). Be careful of your dogmatic denominational traditions about the when, where, frequency, and form of the Lord's Supper. The heart is the key!
NASB"gladness and sincerity of heart"
NKJV"gladness and simplicity of heart"
NRSV"glad and generous hearts"
TEV"glad and humble hearts"
NJB"glad and generously"
The variety of the translations of the second term shows the difficulty of translating aphelotēs. Literally it meant smooth or plain, but it was used metaphorically for "simple," "sincere," or "humble" (Louw and Nida). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at 1:24.
NASB, NKJV"having favor with all the people"
NRSV"having the goodwill of all the people"
TEV"enjoying the goodwill of all the people"
NJB"were looked up to by everyone"
This phrase refers to the acceptance of the early Christians by the people of Jerusalem. All the different types and levels of society thought well of these first believers. Christians were not a threat to Roman authority or to the Roman peace (one purpose of Acts). There was no break with rabbinical Judaism at the beginning of the church.
▣ "the Lord was adding" This is an imperfect active indicative. The Bible emphasizes the sovereignty of God. Nothing happens apart from God's will. Nothing surprises God. However, this OT way of asserting monotheism (i.e., one causality, see Special Topic at 2:39) has been misunderstood. I would like to insert two Special Topics, one on the need for balance and one on covenant. I hope this brings light, not heat!
NASB, NRSV"to their number"
NKJV"to the church"
TEV"to their group"
NJB"to their community"
The phrase epi to auto is used in Classical Greek and Koine Greek (Septuagint and Acts 1:15; 2:1,47; I Cor. 11:20; 14:23), meaning "coming together" (Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 305). Here in the NT it refers to a church meeting. Therefore, the Lord added to the church (i.e., the gathering) daily. This shows the lifestyle evangelism of these first generation believers!
▣ "those who were being saved" The phrase "Lord (God or Christ) was adding," used earlier in v. 46, is an imperfect active indicative, but this phrase is a present passive participle. The expressed agent of the passive voice is the Lord. The "saved" are in a process. Salvation starts with belief/trust/faith (i.e., John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9-13). Salvation is a relationship initiated by God/Spirit (cf. John 6:44,65), but it must be an ongoing experience. It is not a ticket to heaven or a life insurance policy; it is a daily, growing, faith relationship. See Special Topic: Greek Verb Tenses Used for Salvation at 2:40.
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. Outline Peter's sermon
2. What was the purpose of Pentecost?
3. How did Joel's prophecy relate to this context?
4. Describe Peter's use of Old Testament passages.
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