David Guzik's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 2 - THE HOLY SPIRIT IS POURED OUT ON THE CHURCH
A. The initial experience of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
1. (Acts 2:1-4 a) The disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
a. The Day of Pentecost was a Jewish feast held fifty days after Passover. It was a time to celebrate the firstfruits of the harvest.
i. At Passover, the first sheaf reaped from the barley harvest was presented to God. But at Pentecost, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest were given to God; therefore, Pentecost is called the day of firstfruits (Numbers 28:26).
ii. Also, Jewish tradition taught that Pentecost commemorated the day when the Law was given to Israel. The Jews sometimes called Pentecost shimchath torah, or “Joy of the Law.”
iii. So on the Old Testament Day of Pentecost, Israel received the Law, and on the New Testament Day of Pentecost, the Church received the Spirit of Grace in fullness.
b. Notice that the followers of Jesus were all with one accord in one place. They were gathered together sharing the same heart, the same love for God, the same trust in His promise, and the same geography.
i. Before we can be filled, we must recognize our emptiness; by gathering together for prayer, in obedience, these disciples were doing just that. They recognized they did not have the resources in themselves to do what they could or should, they had to rely on the work of God.
c. The association of the sound of a rushing mighty wind, filling the whole house, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is unusual. But it probably has connection with the fact that in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the word for spirit (as in Holy Spirit) is the same word for breath or wind. Here, the sound from heaven is the sound of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples
d. The divided tongues, as of fire, appearing over each one are also unusual. It probably should be connected with John the Baptist’s prophecy that Jesus would baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11).
i. The idea behind the picture of fire is usually purification, as a refiner uses fire to make pure gold. Or fire can burn away what is temporary, leaving what will last. This is an excellent illustration of the principle that the filling of the Holy Spirit is not just for abstract power, but for purity.
ii. In certain places in the Old Testament, God showed His special pleasure with a sacrifice by kindling the fire for it Himself. Fire from heaven came down and consumed the sacrifice. The experience of the followers of Jesus on Pentecost is another example of God sending fire from heaven to show His pleasure and power, but this time, it descended upon living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).
iii. Under the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit rested on God’s people more as a nation, that is, Israel. But under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit rests upon God’s people as individuals - the tongues of fire sat upon each of them.
iv. “The Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit.” (Calvin)
e. Essentially, the rushing mighty wind and the tongues, as of fire, were only unusual, temporary phenomenon, which accompanied the true gift: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
i. While it would be wrong to expect a rushing mighty wind or tongues, as of fire, to be present today when the Holy Spirit is poured out, we can experience the true gift. We, just as they, can be all filled with the Holy Spirit.
ii. But we should do what the disciples did before and during their filling with the Holy Spirit. The disciples were filled in fulfillment of a promise. They were filled as they received in faith. They were filled in God’s timing. They were filled as they were together in unity. And they were filled in unusual ways.
2. (Acts 2:4-13) The phenomenon of speaking in tongues.
And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs; we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
a. And began to speak with other tongues: In response to the filling of the Holy Spirit, those present (not only the twelve apostles) began to speak with other tongues. These were languages that they were never taught, and they spoke these languages this as the Spirit gave them utterance.
b. Devout men, from every nation under heaven: The multitude from many nations gathered in Jerusalem because of the Feast of Pentecost. Many of these were the same people who gathered in Jerusalem at the last feast, Passover, when an angry mob demanded the execution of Jesus.
c. A crowd quickly gathered, being attracted by this sound, which was either the sound of the rushing mighty wind or the sound of speaking in other tongues. When the crowd came, they heard the Christians speaking in their own foreign languages. Apparently, the Christians could be heard from the windows of the upper room, or they went out onto some kind of balcony or into the temple courts.
i. Not many homes of that day could hold 120 people. It is far more likely that this upper room was part of the temple courts, which was a huge structure, with porches and colonnades and rooms. The crowd would come from people milling about the temple courts.
d. The crowd heard the Christians speaking . . . the wonderful works of God. All were amazed and perplexed, but some used it as a means of honest inquiry, asking, “Whatever could this mean?” Others used it as an excuse to dismiss the work of God, saying, “They are full of new wine.”
i. Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? Galileans were known as uncultured and poor speakers. This was all the more reason to be impressed with their ability to speak eloquently in other languages. “Galileans had difficulty pronouncing gutturals and had the habit of swallowing syllables when speaking; so they were looked down upon by the people of Jerusalem as being provincial.” (Longenecker)
ii. They all spoke in different tongues, yet there was a unity among the believers. “Ever since the early church fathers, commentators have seen the blessing of Pentecost as a deliberate and dramatic reversal of the curse of Babel.” (Stott)
3. Whatever could this mean? What are we to make of the phenomenon of speaking in tongues?
a. Speaking in tongues has been the focal point for significant controversy in the church. People still ask the same question these bystanders asked on the day of Pentecost.
b. There is no controversy that God, at least at one time, gave the church the gift of tongues. But much of the controversy centers on the question, “what is God’s purpose for the gift of tongues?”
i. Some think that the gift of tongues was given primarily as a sign to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:21-22) and as a means to miraculously communicate the gospel in diverse languages. They believe there is no longer the need for this sign, so they regard tongues as a gift no longer present in the church today.
ii. Others argue that the gift of tongues, while a sign to unbelievers as stated by 1 Corinthians 14:21-22, are primarily a gift of communication between the believer and God (1 Corinthians 14:2; 1Co_14:13-15), and is a gift still given by God today.
c. Many mistakenly interpret this incident in Acts 2, assuming that the disciples used tongues to preach to the gathered crowd. But a careful look shows this idea is wrong.
i. Notice what the people heard the disciples say: Speaking . . . the wonderful works of God. The disciples declared the praises of God, thanking Him with all their might in unknown tongues. The gathered crowd merely overheard what the disciples exuberantly declared to God.
ii. The idea that these disciples communicated to the diverse crowd in tongues is plainly wrong. The crowd had a common language (Greek), and Peter preached a sermon to them in that language! (Acts 2:14-40)
d. The gift of tongues is a personal language of prayer given by God, whereby the believer communicates with God beyond the limits of knowledge and understanding (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).
i. Tongues has an important place in the devotional life of the believer, but a small place in the corporate life of the church (1 Corinthians 14:18-19), especially in “public” meetings (1 Corinthians 14:23).
ii. When tongues are practiced in the corporate life of the church, it must be carefully controlled, and never without an interpretation given by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:27-28).
iii. The ability to pray in an unknown tongue is not a gift given to every believer (1 Corinthians 12:20).
iv. The ability to pray in an unknown tongue is not the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit. This emphasis leads many to seek the gift of tongues (and to counterfeit it) merely to prove to themselves and others that they really are filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. Is the speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance in Acts 2 the same gift of tongues described in 1 Corinthians 12, 14?
a. Some say we are dealing with two separate gifts. They argue that the 1 Corinthians gift must be regulated and restricted, while the Acts 2 gift can be used any time without regulation. Those who believe they are two separate gifts emphasize that the speech of Acts 2 was immediately recognized by foreign visitors to Jerusalem, while the speech of 1 Corinthians was unintelligible to those present except with a divinely granted gift of interpretation.
b. However, this doesn’t take into account that the differences have more to do with the circumstances in which the gifts were exercised than with the gifts themselves.
c. In Jerusalem, the group spoken to was uniquely multi-national and multi-lingual; at feast time (Pentecost), Jews of the dispersion from all over the world were in the city. Therefore, the likelihood that foreign ears would hear a tongue spoken in their language was much greater. On the other hand, in Corinth (though a rather cosmopolitan city itself), the gift was exercised in a local church, with members all sharing a common language (Greek). If one had the same diversity of foreigners visiting the Corinthian church when all were speaking in tongues, it is likely that many would hear members of the Corinthian church speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.
d. As well, it should never be assumed that each person among the 120 who spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost spoke in a language immediately intelligible to human ears present that day. We read they all . . . began to speak with other tongues; therefore there were more than 120 individuals speaking in tongues. Since the nations spoken of in Acts 2:9-11 number only fifteen (with perhaps others present but not mentioned), it is likely that many (if not most) of the 120 spoke praises to God in a language that was not understood by someone immediately present. The text simply does not indicate that someone present could understand each person speaking in tongues.
e. However, we should not assume those who were not immediately understood by human ears spoke “gibberish,” as the modern gift of tongues is called with derision. They may have praised God in a language completely unknown, yet completely human. After all, what would the language of the Aztecs sound like to Roman ears? Or some may have spoke in a completely unique language given by God and understood by Him and Him alone. After all, communication with God, not man, is the purpose of the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:2). The repetition of simple phrases, unintelligible and perhaps nonsensical to human bystanders, does not mean someone speaks “gibberish.” Praise to God may be simple and repetitive, and part of the whole dynamic of tongues is that it bypasses the understanding of the speaker (1 Corinthians 14:14), being understood by God and God alone.
f. All in all, we should regard the gift of Acts 2 and the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians as the same, simply because the same term is used for both in the original language (heterais glossais). Also, the verb translated gave them utterance in Acts 2:4 is frequently used in Greek literature in connection with spiritually prompted (ecstatic) speech, not mere translation into other languages.
B. Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.
1. (Acts 2:14-15) Peter begins his sermon.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.”
a. Peter, standing up with the eleven: Peter stands and preaches to the crowd as a representative of the whole group of apostles.
i. We should notice that the speaking in tongues stopped when Peter began to preach. The Holy Spirit now worked through Peter’s preaching and would not work against Himself through tongues at the same time.
b. Raised his voice: There is a remarkable change in Peter. He has courage and boldness that is a complete contrast to his denials of Jesus before being filled with the Holy Spirit.
i. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter didn’t teach as the rabbis in his day usually did. They would gather disciples around them, sit down, and instruct them and any others who might listen. Instead, Peter proclaimed the truth like a herald.
c. For these are not drunk: Peter deflects the mocking criticism that the disciples were drunk. In that day, it was unthinkable that people would be so drunk so early in the day (about 9:00 in the morning).
i. Commentator Adam Clarke says that most Jews - pious or not - did not eat or drink until after the third hour of the day, because that was the time for prayer, and they would only eat after their business with God was accomplished.
d. These are not drunk: We shouldn’t think that the Christians were acting as if they were drunk. The idea of “being drunk in the Spirit” has no foundation in Scripture; the comment from the mockers had no basis in reality.
i. “Nor, must we add, did the believers’ experience of the Spirit’s fullness seem to them or look to others like intoxication, because they had lost control of their normal mental and physical functions. No, the fruit of the Spirit is ‘self-control,’ not the loss of it.” (Stott)
2. (Acts 2:16-21) Peter quotes the prophet Joel.
“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’“
a. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the midst of this great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, among signs and wonders and speaking in tongues, what did Peter do? Essentially, he said, “Let’s have a Bible study! Let’s study what the prophet Joel said!”
i. This focus on God’s Word did not quench the moving of the Holy Spirit; it fulfilled what the Holy Spirit wanted to do. All the signs and wonders and speaking in tongues were preparing for this work of God’s Word.
ii. Unfortunately, some people set the Word against the Spirit. They almost think it’s more spiritual if there is no Bible study. Sadly, this is often due to the weak and unspiritual teaching of those who teach the Bible!
b. The prophet Joel: This quotation from Joel 2:28-32 focuses on God’s promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh. What happened on the day of Pentecost was a near fulfillment of that promise, with the final fulfillment coming in the last days (which Peter had good reason to believe he was in).
c. The idea of the last days is that they are the times of the Messiah, encompassing both His humble coming and His return in glory. Because Jesus had already come in humility, they were aware that His return in glory could be any time.
i. Though there were still to be some 2,000 years until Jesus returned, until this point, history had been running towards the point of the ultimate establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. But from this time on, history runs parallel to that point, ready at any time for the consummation.
ii. It may also be helpful to see the last days as something like a “season,” a general period of time, more than a more specific period, such as a week. In the whole span of God’s plan for human history, we are in the “season” of the last days.
d. I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh: In using the quotation from Joel, Peter explained what these curious onlookers saw - the Holy Spirit poured forth upon the people. Before, the Holy Spirit was given in drops, now He would be poured forth.
e. Peter also used the quotation to an evangelistic purpose. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit means that God is offering salvation in a way previously unknown: Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. It will be many years until the gospel is offered to Gentiles, yet Peter’s sermon text announces the gospel invitation by saying, whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
i. The idea is expressed in Proverbs 18:10 : The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
3. (Acts 2:22-24) Peter introduces the focus of the sermon: The resurrected Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know; Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”
a. Many people would think it enough for Peter to stop after the quotation from Joel - think of what we have in it! An outpouring of the Holy Spirit, miraculous dreams, visions, and prophecy, signs and wonders regarding the Day of the Lord, and an invitation to call on the name of the Lord. But it isn’t enough, because Peter hasn’t spoken about the saving work of Jesus on our behalf. Everything until now has been introduction; now comes the essential message.
b. Peter starts off with hear these words as he had said before, let this be known to you, and heed my words (Acts 2:14). Peter wanted people to pay attention, and he spoke as if he had something important to say - something many teachers fail to do.
c. As you yourselves also know: Peter refers to what these people already knew about Jesus. They already knew of His life and miraculous works. Often in speaking to people about Jesus, we should start with what they already know about Him.
d. Peter knows that Jesus’ death was by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God. At the same time, those who rejected Him and called for His execution were responsible for the actions of their lawless hands.
i. Peter did not flinch at saying, “You crucified this Man who was sent by God.” His first concern was not to please his audience, but to tell them the truth. What a difference from the man who, a few months before, even knowing Jesus! (Matthew 26:69-75)
e. Yet, it was not possible that Jesus should remain bound by death, as explained by Peter’s following quotation from Psalms 16. It was not possible that Jesus should remain a victim of the sin and hatred of man; He would certainly triumph over it.
i. Having loosed the pains of death: In the phrase pains of death, the word pains is actually the word for “birth pains.” In this sense, the tomb was a womb for Jesus!
ii. “It was not possible that the chosen one of God should remain in the grip of death; ‘the abyss can no more hold the Redeemer than a pregnant woman can hold the child in her body.’“ (Bruce, quoting Bertram)
4. (Acts 2:25-36) Peter develops the theme of the resurrected Jesus.
“For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
a. For David says concerning Him: Peter tells us that Psalms 16:8-11 is prophetic, with application to the Messiah. Jesus probably taught Peter this when He instructed the disciples in the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-45).
b. Your Holy One: Jesus bore the full wrath of God on the cross, as if He were a guilty sinner, guilty of all our sin, even being made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Yet, that work was an act of holy, giving love for us, so that Jesus Himself did not become a sinner, even though He bore the full guilt of our sin.
i. This is the gospel message! That Jesus took our punishment for sin on the cross and remained a perfect Savior through the whole ordeal - proved by His resurrection. Apart from the resurrection, we would have no proof that Jesus successfully, perfectly, paid for our sins.
c. Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption: Because Jesus bore our sin without becoming a sinner, He remained the Holy One, even in His death. Since it is incomprehensible that God’s Holy One should be bound by death, the resurrection was absolutely inevitable.
i. Instead of being punished for His glorious work on the cross, Jesus was rewarded, as prophetically described in the Psalm: You have made known to be the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.
d. David . . . is both dead and buried: Peter points out that this Psalm cannot be speaking of its human author, David - he is dead and remains buried. The Psalm must speak prophetically of the Messiah, Jesus.
e. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses: Jesus of Nazareth, the man they all knew (as you yourselves also know, Acts 2:22), was the one who fulfilled this prophetic Psalm. How did Peter know this? He saw the resurrected Jesus! The basic evidence of the resurrection was simply the report of reliable eyewitnesses: Of which we are all witnesses.
f. He poured out this which you now see and hear: Peter affirms that what is going on is the work of the risen and ascended Jesus, who has sent His Holy Spirit upon His church.
g. Therefore let all the house of Israel know: The sermon concludes with a summary. Simply, all Israel should know that even though they crucified Jesus, God has declared Him both Lord and Christ.
i. It is as if Peter said, “You were all wrong about Jesus. You crucified Him as if He were a criminal, but by the resurrection, God proved that He is Lord and Messiah.”
ii. When Peter exhorted them whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21), there is little doubt who the Lord is that he spoke of: Jesus.
iii. “That the early Christians meant to give Jesus the title Lord in this highest sense of all is indicated by their not hesitating on occasion to apply to him passages of Old Testament scripture referring to Yahweh.” (Bruce)
C. The response to Peter’s preaching.
1. (Acts 2:37) They respond with a question: What shall we do?
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
a. It is fascinating to see what an incredible work of the Holy Spirit happened here. Peter offered absolutely no invitation, merely a declaration of truth, but the listeners themselves gave the invitation!
i. The exercise of the gift of tongues produced nothing in the listeners but astonishment and mocking; it wasn’t until the gospel was preached that conviction from the Holy Spirit came. This was the work God really wanted to accomplish.
b. Cut to the heart is a good way of describing the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They now knew that they were responsible for the death of Jesus (as each of us are), and that they had to do something about it.
i. Peter had a little experience with cutting before; when Jesus was arrested, he cut off the right ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus (John 18:10). All this was an embarrassing mess that Jesus had to clean up - this was Peter in the flesh, doing the best he could with a literal sword of human power.
ii. When the resurrected Jesus changed Peter’s life, and when the power of the Holy Spirit had come upon him, he did some effective cutting: Cutting hearts, opening them to Jesus. This is what Peter could do in the power of the Spirit, doing God’s best with the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word. Which sword was more powerful?
c. When God is working on someone’s heart, they want to come to Him; they will act to come to Him. Perhaps that’s why people are listening to this right now, because they want to come to God!
2. (Acts 2:38-40) Peter invites the multitude to come to Jesus.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
a. Peter must have been pleasantly astounded to see what God had done in this situation; instead of people wanting to crucify him because of Jesus, thousands of people want to trust in Jesus as Lord and Messiah.
b. Repent, and let every one of you be baptized: Responding to the question, “What shall we do?” Peter gave them something to do. This means that we must do something to be saved, we must do something to follow Jesus; it doesn’t just “happen.”
c. The first thing Peter told them to do is repent. To repent does not mean to feel sorry, but it means to change one’s mind or direction - they had thought a certain way about Jesus before (considering Him worthy of crucifixion), now they must turn around their thinking, embracing Him as Lord and Messiah.
i. Repent sounds like such a harsh word in the mouths of many preachers and in the ears of many listeners, but it is an essential aspect of the gospel. Repent has been rightly called “the first word of the gospel.”
ii. When John the Baptist preached, he said Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! (Matthew 3:2). When Jesus began to preach, He said Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). Now when Peter begins to preach, he starts with repent!
iii. Repentance must never be thought of as something we must do before we can come back to God. Repentance describes what coming to God is. You can’t turn towards God without turning from the things He is against.
iv. In this sense, repent is a word of great hope. It says “You don’t have to continue the way you’ve been going, you can turn to God,” something many people desperately want.
d. The second thing Peter says they must do is be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, as an expression of their belief and complete trust in Him.
i. Baptism made a clear statement. In that day, Jews were not commonly baptized, only Gentiles who wanted to become Jews. For these Jewish men and women to be baptized showed just how strongly they felt they needed Jesus.
ii. “While baptism with water was the expected symbol for conversion, it was not an indispensable criterion for salvation.” (Longenecker)
e. The promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off: As they repented and demonstrated faith and obedience by baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit would be given to them as it was given to the original group of disciples. Peter also specifically promised that the promise of the Holy Spirit would be given to those who believe in all succeeding generations (all who are afar off).
i. They saw the glorious work of the Holy Spirit among the disciples, and Peter told them that it was something that these people could take part in; they didn’t only have to be observers. And since the promise is for all who afar off, it includes all people up to the present time.
f. And with many other words he testified and exhorted them: Peter’s sermon didn’t end there. He continued to urge the crowd to come to Jesus in repentant surrender.
g. Be saved from this perverse generation: Any generation that is responsible for putting Jesus to death is a perverse generation. But since every generation is responsible for Jesus’ death, every generation needs salvation.
3. (Acts 2:41) The response to Peter’s sermon.
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
a. About three thousand souls were added to them: This day of Pentecost saw an amazing harvest of souls. The church went from about 120 people to 3,120 people in one day.
i. Think of how this touched lives. Many of the 3,000 were undoubtedly pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, expecting something special from God, but not expecting anything like this. Many in this crowd would eventually travel far from Jerusalem, back to their homes, taking the good news of Jesus Christ with them.
b. Those who gladly received his word were baptized: Those who believed on Jesus that day did so gladly, even making a dramatic statement in baptism. They would not have submitted to baptism unless they were fully convinced of who Jesus was and their great need for Him as a Savior.
i. How could you baptize 3,000 people? There were huge resources of water available on the temple mount, and pools and reservoirs nearby, so it was not difficult to find a place where the baptisms could take place.
c. What a baptism service that must have been! But God continues to do such great things. After the 1990 Summer Harvest Crusade, there was a mass baptism at Corona del Mar. They couldn’t count how many were baptized, but the event was attended by more than 5,000 people. It was reported as the largest baptism service in the history of America.
D. The life of these first believers.
1. (Acts 2:42) The foundation of their Christian life.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
a. On the day of Pentecost, the sound of the rushing wind, the tongues of fire, and the conversion of 3,000 were all remarkable events; but the things described in Acts 2:42 were the abiding legacy of God’s work.
b. First, they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine: They relied on the apostles to communicate to them who Jesus was and what He had done. They just trusted in Jesus; now they want to know more!
i. Continued steadfastly uses a Greek verb communicating “a steadfast and single-minded fidelity to a certain course of action.” (Longenecker) There was to be no departure from the apostles’ doctrine, because it was the truth of God.
ii. Thankfully, God allows us to sit under the apostles’ doctrine - the New Testament record. Every pastor should seek to be unoriginal, in the sense that we don’t have our own doctrine, but the apostles’ doctrine.
c. They continued in fellowship: The Greek word koinonia has the idea of association, communion, fellowship, and participation; it means to share in something.
i. As Christians, we share the same Lord Jesus, we share the same guide for life, we share the same love for God, we share the same desire to worship Him, we share the same struggles, we share the same victories, we share the same job of living for Him, we share the same joy of communicating that gospel to others.
d. They continued in the breaking of bread: Even living so close to the time when Jesus was crucified, they still never wanted to forget it - how much more should we?
e. They continued in prayers. Whenever God’s work is done, God’s people are praying.
f. Everything else we read about the power and glory of the early church flows from this foundation of the word, fellowship, remembrance of Jesus’ work on the cross, and prayer.
i. From Luke’s description of the early Christian community, “The educated reader would have got the impression here that the Greek ideal of society had been realized.” (Dictionary of New Testament Theology)
2. (Acts 2:43) The presence of the power of God.
Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
a. The power of God was evident because fear came upon every soul. One of the greatest, most powerful works God can do is to change the human heart towards a reverent honor of the Lord.
b. The power of God was evident because many wonders and signs were done, and where God is moving, lives will be touched in miraculous ways.
3. (Acts 2:44-45) Their close hearts and sharing in the common life of Jesus.
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
a. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common: With the influx of more that 3,000 believers, most of whom stayed in Jerusalem and didn’t have jobs, the family of Christians had to share if they were to survive.
i. We shouldn’t regard this as “early communism,” because it was voluntary, temporary, and flawed to the extent that the church in Jerusalem was in continual need of financial support from other churches. Also, we don’t have any evidence this continued very long.
b. The Jews had a tremendous custom of hospitality during any major feast like Pentecost; all visitors were received into private homes, and no one could charge for giving a bed or a room to a visitor or for supplying their basic needs. The Christians took this tremendous feast-time hospitality and made it an everyday thing.
c. Sold their possessions and their goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need: The power of God is evident here because Jesus became much more important to them than their possessions.
4. (Acts 2:46-47) The Christian family lived together and grew.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
a. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house: The church is meant to worship God and learn His Word together, but it is meant to do more; God wants us to share our lives with one another.
b. Praising God and having favor with all the people: Their Christian experience was daily, joyful and simple - good examples for us to follow.
c. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved: This is God’s prescription for church growth. If we take care to follow the example of Acts 2:42-47 a, God will take care of growing the church Himself.
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