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Monday, May 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 2

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-4

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

John the Baptist foretold that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. God told John the one who would administer that baptism was the one "Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him". No mere apostle could baptize someone with the Holy Spirit. It had to be the Son of God. Of course, that same Son must one day baptize some with the fire of judgment ( Matthew 3:1012 ; Joh_1:31-34 ; Revelation 20:1415; 21:8 ).

It should be remembered that baptism involves an immersion or overwhelming. Paul helps one understand the meaning of baptism in Col_2:12 . "Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." The apostle to the Gentiles viewed baptism as a burial.

The mother of James and John asked for her sons to be seated on Jesus' right hand. He asked if they were able to be baptized as he would be ( Matthew 20:2023 ). The context makes it plain he was speaking of a baptism of suffering. As Nichols says, "It was an overwhelming of suffering, and a submersion, as it were in what is figuratively referred to as an 'element' of suffering" ( 1Pe_3:18 ). Similarly, when the word baptism is used in connection with the Holy Spirit, it "carries with it the idea (although figuratively expressed) of the amount of the Holy Spirit given and received in the case" (Nichols, p. 89).


The first feast of the Jewish year was Passover. Passover was always on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month of Abib, which was the first month ( Exo_12:2 ; Exo_13:4 ). The second feast followed fifty days later. In the New Testament it is called Pentecost ( Act_2:1 ; Act_20:16 ; 1Co_16:8 ). "This feast has three names in the Old Testament; they are 'feast of weeks' ( Exo_34:22 ; Deu_16:10 ), 'feast of harvest' ( Exo_23:16 ), and 'day of firstfruits' ( Num_28:26 )," according to Boles.

He went on to explain that "it came at the end of the reaping season, when all the wheat and barley had been cut and gathered. It was held at the central sanctuary. ( Deu_16:11 .) The people were expected to assemble at the place of the altar and hold their celebration." Pentecost was a happy celebration of God's great provision. Freewill offerings were made with a special emphasis placed upon doing good for the Levites, strangers, orphans and widows ( Deu_16:10-14 ).

The Promise of the Father

Remember, just before his ascension to the throne in heaven, Jesus told his apostles to wait in Jerusalem "for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'" He also promised they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. In Luk_24:49 , Jesus said, "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." In contrast to the baptism of the great commission, which was a command, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a promise.

The ones who first received the promise were to go into all the world preaching the gospel ( Act_1:18 ; compare Luke 24:46 49 ). Since a pronoun always refers to its antecedent, one must go back all the way to Act_1:2 to discover the "you" of verse 8 refers to the apostles. The Holy Spirit played a significant role in the fulfillment of the command to go into all the world. As the Lord said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" ( Joh_14:26 ).

The first physical evidence the Promise had come was a sound like a rushing, mighty wind which filled the house in which the apostles were sitting. We know the "they" of 2:1 refers to the apostles because 1:26 tells us Matthias was numbered with the eleven. As a second evidence, divided tongues which looked like fire appeared to them and sat on each of them. Finally, each spoke in a language he had never studied. In these ways, the Holy Spirit's presence was made known ( Act_2:1-4 ).

Verses 5-13

The Audience Reaction

Moses instructed that all males be present for the feast of Pentecost, so it is no surprise that Luke would say, "Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven." Luke listed at least fifteen separate nations represented on the day of Pentecost ( Act_2:5 ; Act_2:9-11 ). "The list of geographical names shows the diversity of the people to whom the apostles spoke, the provinces and locations mentioned lying in all directions from Jerusalem and representing a cross-section of the languages spoken in the entire Roman empire" (Coffman).

The coming of the Holy Spirit was effectively confirmed by the witnesses who came together because of the sound like a rushing, mighty wind and said they heard every man in the language in which he was born. The audience did not have to be told something unusual was happening. The apostles did not have to tell everyone that they had received, or gotten, as some say, the Spirit. Those from the fifteen nations mentioned by Luke heard them speaking in their own tongues, or languages. They also saw that which Christ poured out. Their surprise at what they heard and saw moved them to seek possible explanations. Some merely wondered at the meaning of the occurrences, while others said the apostles were drunk ( Act_2:6-7 ; Act_2:11-13 ; Act_2:33 ).

Verses 14-21

Spoken By Joel

Peter immediately set out to end the wild speculations as to the cause of the apostles being able to speak in languages they had never studied. First, he observed that it was just 9 a.m. Coffman wrote, "On a festival like Pentecost, no Jew ever ate or drank anything till after 9 A.M." Certainly, then, they could not be drunk. Second, he told the assembled crowd that the things they had seen and heard were the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joe_2:28-32 . The Jews understood Joel's prophecy, coupled with those of Isaiah (2:2-4) and Micah (4:1-5), regarding the last days to be a specific reference to the coming of the Messiah. John described the time of his writing as "the last hour," the writer of Hebrews knew he and his readers were in "these last days" and Peter said the redemptive blood of Jesus "was manifest in these last times for you" ( 1Jn_2:18 ; Heb_1:2 ; 1Pe_1:20 ).

Peter plainly says the pouring out of the Spirit upon the apostles was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. Peter thereby notified his hearers that they were living in the last days. While not all of Joel's prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, such is not disturbing because the writing was concerning a period of days rather than a single day. Later, the Spirit would be poured out on the Gentiles, thereby including all flesh, and some daughters would prophesy ( Act_10:44-47 ; Act_21:9 ). Additionally, it can even now truthfully be said that, "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" ( Act_2:14-21 ; Rom_10:9-17 ). Calling on the name of the Lord entails one asking the Lord by his authority to set one free from his sins, an act which can only be accomplished by yielding to his will as it was expressed in his commandments ( Mat_7:21 ; Mar_16:16 ; Act_22:16 ; 1Pe_3:21 ).

Verses 22-24

They Crucified God's Approved Man

No one could successfully deny that Jesus had worked miracles because they had been done in plain view. Those miracles should have inspired awe (wonder) in the hearts of those who saw them and been a clear sign that Jesus was God's spokesman and, in fact, His Son ( Joh_5:36 ; Joh_10:25 ; Joh_20:30-31 ; Heb_2:4 ). Peter, recognizing the Lord's greatness, was moved to feel his own unworthiness in the presence of the Lord ( Luk_5:1-11 ). Some clearly recognized these displays of God's power for what they were and believed in the Son. The nobleman whose son was at the point of death and some of the Jews who had gone to comfort Mary were in this category ( Joh_4:46-54 ; Joh_11:45 ). Others explained the miracles away by attributing them to the power of Satan, criticizing and seeking an opportunity to kill the Lord ( Mat_12:22-30 ; Mar_3:1-6 ; Joh_11:1-57 ). Oddly enough, they recognized Jesus' works as mighty but looked beyond that fact to the potential result of their losing power!

Imagine the shock of those who ultimately succeeded in crucifying the One by whom they felt threatened when Peter said God had actually known beforehand the actions they would take! Their shock could only have been compounded by the realization that God allowed them to crucify Jesus and then raised him from the dead ( Act_2:22-24 )! Yet, a careful study of God's writings, which they claimed to so admire, would have revealed both God's foreknowledge and his intent to let them crucify the Messiah and then raise him so he could see his children ( Gen_3:15 ; Isa_53:6-12 ).

Verses 25-35

David's Prophecies Concerning Christ

Peter quoted from Psa_16:8-11 , saying that in it David was speaking concerning the Christ. Jesus died and his body was lain in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, but his spirit, or soul, went to Paradise in Hades ( Luk_23:43-56 ; Luk_16:19-31 ). However, our Lord trusted the Father to reunite his soul with his resurrected body in a powerful display intended to leave no doubt as to the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Referring to Psa_16:8-11 , Coffman says, "It is absolutely certain that this passage from the OT prophesies a resurrection of someone, for it is only by a resurrection that one could descend into the grave (Hades) and not see corruption" ( Act_2:25-28 ).

That David did not speak of himself is clearly seen in the fact that his body saw corruption and was still in its grave in the very city of Jerusalem where Peter spoke. Peter argued that David knew when he wrote of God's Holy One he was not speaking of himself but, through the voice of prophecy, was speaking of the promised King who would arise from among his offspring. Peter and the eleven who stood with him were witnesses of the very resurrection David had foretold. They had seen Jesus in his resurrected body ( Act_2:29-32 )!

Peter could testify Jesus was now seated on his throne in heaven because the Holy Spirit had come. During his earthly ministry, Jesus had told his apostles, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you" ( Joh_16:5-15 , esp. 7). The apostle to the Jews used a further quotation from David to prove Jesus Christ was to be Lord over David and rule from his throne, not on earth, but in heaven ( Act_2:33-35 ; Psa_110:1 ).

Verse 36

Jesus Is Master and King

The unmistakable conclusion of all the previous arguments is that Jesus of Nazareth was made Master and King by the Eternal Father ( Act_2:36 ). The very one they had crucified had now been placed by God in the position of authority. Anyone wishing to come to the Father would have to yield to Him!

The evidence presented by Peter on Pentecost was irrefutable. He had opened up two separate prophecies of David before their eyes. He had presented the testimony of reliable witnesses who had seen the resurrected Lord. He had called his listeners' attention to the unique events of the day, which had to have originated from heaven itself through the workings of God's Spirit. If Jesus' tomb still contained Jesus' remains, surely the Jews would have thrown them down in front of Peter and asserted that his body was corrupting just as David's had. The fact that they remained silent is strong evidence of the Lordship of Jesus!

Verse 37

"Cut to the Heart"

It is hard to imagine just how stunned some in Peter's audience must have been. The man who they recognized as a Galilean and likely viewed as uneducated had just presented a compelling argument in which he indicted them as the murderers of the Son of God. His presentation was so powerful because of the "Comforter," or "Helper," or "Advocate," which are the various ways to interpret the Greek word Paraclete. Bales used several authors to show the word literally means attorney for the defense in a court of law. The Holy Spirit used undeniable truths to show Jesus was the Son of God despite the Jews accusations to the contrary.

Jesus described the Spirit's work in Joh_16:5-15 . He said, in part, "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." The evidence presented by Peter on Pentecost, as delivered to him by the Comforter, truly convicted many in his audience. In fact, Luke reports, "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?'"

Verses 38-41

The Keys to the Kingdom

In Mat_16:19 , Jesus promised Peter, "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." On the cross, Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who crucified him in ignorance. Both these passages find the beginning of their fulfillment in Act_2:38 . The Holy Spirit, through Peter, had already identified those in the assembled multitude as those who had used lawless hands to crucify God's Son. When they asked what they must do to be saved, Peter told them to, "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."

Repenting involves a change of will, or mind ( Mat_21:28-32 ). Baptism is a dipping, plunging, immersing or overwhelming. Today, we would say baptism is a burial ( Col_2:12 ). Both repentance and baptism were to be done in the name of Jesus. Bales says, "Of course, Peter was not telling them in Act_2:38 what he would say when he baptized them, but rather what they were to do in being baptized, i.e. they were to be baptized resting on His name, submitting to His authority, depending on Him as Savior and Lord."

The purpose of repentance and baptism under the authority of Jesus was to receive the promised result of the remission of sins. Luke recorded Peter's words using the Greek tense which set forth what he said as an urgent command. His urgency stemmed from the fact that such actions were required for them to receive the salvation they had sought. In 1Pe_3:21 , the apostle explained that baptism is the means of one's calling on God to cleanse him based upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

A further benefit of submitting to Christ's authority in repentance and baptism is the reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter explained that the promise of the gift was available to the Jews, their children and the Gentiles, or those who were afar off. Of course, the promise is only for those who the Lord calls. However, the only limitation on God's call stems from man's willingness, or lack thereof, to respond to God's call since it clearly extends to all who will work righteousness ( Act_10:34-35 ). The Spirit is ready to give life to any who will submit to God and then make that individual's body his temple ( Rom_8:9-11 ; 1Co_6:19-20 ).

Peter pleaded with his listeners to save themselves from the wicked generation in which they lived. Those who obediently received the words of Peter were receiving the words of Christ, since the Lord said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me" ( Joh_13:20 ; Luk_10:16 ). Because they received the Lord's words, about three thousand were added together in the kingdom ( Act_2:38-41 ).

Verses 42-45

The Early Church At Work

Those who were added together gave constant attention to the apostles' teaching because, as we have just seen, it was the teaching of Christ. Remember Jesus told his followers to teach those who had been baptized to "observe all things that I have commanded you" ( Mat_28:18-20 ). In adhering to his instructions, the apostles taught them about "fellowship," which is from the Greek word koinonia. Thayer says it means, "association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse... used of the intimate bond of fellowship which unites Christians." They enjoyed each other's company and gladly shared their material possessions when anyone had need ( Rom_15:26 ; 2Co_8:4 ; 2Co_9:13 ).

The apostles also taught them to give continuing attention to the breaking of bread. This is an obvious reference to the Lord's supper, since there would be nothing remarkable about new Christians continuing to eat. Then, the twelve guided the new believers in prayer. Coffman writes, "Whereas in Judaism, prayers were offered at stated times of the day, the Christians offered prayers at any and all times, and in any and all places." Such holy living, combined with the miracles worked by the apostles, caused the surrounding community to be in awe ( Act_2:42-45 ).

Verses 46-47

Daily Occurrences In the Early Church

Those first converts were in the temple daily, likely for Bible study and worship. They also spent time together on a daily basis, as "breaking bread from house to house" would seem to indicate. Their daily partaking of food was done out of hearts filled with "extreme joy" (Thayer) and simplicity, which Lenski says is a noun "derived from an adjective which means 'without a stone,' hence perfectly smooth and even, metaphorically, a condition that is undisturbed by anything contrary." Thus, those early Christians praised God for the forgiveness of sins and the community of believers of which he had made them a part. The other folks who lived in Jerusalem found them to be an acceptable group.

Seemingly as a direct result of their daily activities, Luke goes on to say, "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" ( Act_2:46-47 ). It is important to realize the Lord is the one responsible for bringing forth fruit. Too many have been too quick to take credit for growth in the church, while often blaming others when there is no growth. Paul said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase" ( 1Co_3:6-7 ). Like those early Christians, today's followers of the Lord need to give themselves over to daily study, sharing, meeting together and hearts filled with extreme joy and simplicity. The results might well be daily conversions because we will have once again turned our lives over to the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 2". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/acts-2.html. 2014.
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