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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Acts 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost - Acts 2:1-13 tells us the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As the physical world was created by the hovering of the Holy Spirit over the earth, so was the spiritual church birthed out of the same Holy Spirit coming upon God's people.

The Holy Spirit Dwells Within Us and He Comes Upon Us- Benny Hinn refers to John 20:22 to explain that when Jesus breathed upon His disciples, they received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the same way that every new believer receives the Holy Spirit to live inside them eternally. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them and anointed them for a season. Hinn explains that the Spirit comes upon us and anoints us for a season and for a reason in order to accomplish a special task, while the Holy Spirit also lives inside us forever; that Isaiah , He never departs. We see the Holy Spirit coming upon many people under the Old Covenant for a season to empower them for a particular task. This will continue under the New Covenant. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit did not take place under the Old Covenant; for man's sins had not been paid and man's spirit could not yet be born from above. However, under the New Covenant, the Spirit lives in us and communicates with us the Father's will for our daily lives. He is in us to comfort us, guide us and intercede through us. 115]

115] Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

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

Acts 2:1 — "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come" - Comments- Strong and BDAG say the Greek word "Pentecost" ( πεντηκοστή) (G 4005) means, "fiftieth," since this Jewish festival is counted fifty days from the Passover ( Deuteronomy 16:1-10). This important feast was also called the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Firstfruits ( Exodus 34:22). This word is found three times in the New Testament, with Acts 2:1 containing the first usage of the term "Pentecost" in the Scriptures ( Acts 2:1; Acts 20:16, 1 Corinthians 16:8), and its Hebrew equivalent is not used at all in the Old Testament.

Acts 2:1 does not say, "on the day of Pentecost," but rather, "and when the day of Pentecost was fully come," in a way that reflects upon the period of time leading up to this day. BDAG says the Greek word ( συμπληρόω) (4845) means, "to fulfill, to approach, to come" in relation to time. Alfred Edersheim explains that the Jews viewed the Feast of Weeks as the celebration of the giving of the Law. They believed Moses gave the Law to Israel fifty days after the first Passover, so that this feast became "the anniversary of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai." Edersheim says while the Passover, which occurred fifty days earlier, celebrated Jewish deliverance from Egyptian bondage, the Feast of Weeks completed this period of remembrance and celebration, with the day of Pentecost serving as a conclusion to this festive time on the Jewish calendar. Thus, the phrase "and when the day of Pentecost was fully come" reflects upon the fifty days leading up to Pentecost. In a symbolic way, Edersheim suggests the sacrifice of Jesus as the Passover lamb finds its fulfillment in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, since Pentecost was the conclusion of a lengthy festive season. 116] If we follow this analogy, then the passages in Hebrews 8:10 come to mind of the Lord saying, "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." ( Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 10:16) When the Church was filled with the Holy Spirit, the laws of God were placed within each believer.

116] Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services as they were at the Time of Jesus Christ (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1908), 260-61.

Jeremiah 31:33, "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."

Hebrews 8:10, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:"

Hebrews 10:16, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;"

Jesus arose on the third day after Passover, spent forty days with His disciples after His resurrection ( Acts 1:3) before His ascension. He then told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost ( Luke 24:49). Therefore, the disciples waited about one week in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost.

Deuteronomy 16:9-10, "Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:"

Exodus 34:22, "And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year"s end."

Acts 1:3, "To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:"

Luke 24:49, "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."

The Church was born on the Day of Pentecost and it received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This event was a type of firstfruits of the heavenly things to come. Thus, the Feast of Firstfruits has a spiritual meaning as it symbolizes the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God. In fact, the gift of the Holy Spirit is called "the firstfruits of the Spirit" ( Romans 8:23).

Romans 8:23, "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."

Acts 2:1 — "they were all with one accord in one place" - Comments- As such gatherings after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the disciples had been visited by Him on a number of occasions. They were probably gathered in the upper room anticipating some sort of divine visitation again, while not knowing the time or place.

Acts 2:1Comments- One might ask, "Why did the disciples have to wait ten days before receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Could not God have poured forth His Spirit on the first day of His ascension?" Someone might answer that God was waiting for the Feast Day of Pentecost. However, the answer is deeper than this. We read by Sadhu Sundar Singh that God waited so that these men's hearts would be better prepared and receptive to the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"To pray does not imply that without prayer God would not give us anything or that He would be unaware of our needs, but it has this great advantage, that in the attitude of prayer the soul is best fitted to receive the Giver of blessing as well as those blessings He desires to bestow. Thus it was that the fullness of the Spirit was not poured out upon the Apostles on the first day, but after ten days of special preparation. If a blessing were conferred upon one without a special readiness for it, he would neither value it sufficiently nor long retain it. For instance, because Saul obtained the Holy Spirit and the kingship without seeking for them he very soon lost them both, for he had set out from home not to obtain the Holy Spirit but to look for his lost asses (1Sam. ix 3; x 11; v 13-14; xxxi 4)." 117]

117] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "III Prayer," section 2, part 1.

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

Acts 2:2"and it filled all the house where they were sitting" - Comments- The pronoun "it" refers to the sound. That Isaiah , the sound from heaven filled the house.

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

Acts 2:3Comments- The fire that rested upon them is similar to the pillar of fire that rested upon the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

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

Acts 2:4Comments- The Holy Spirit gives us the utterance, but as with the early disciples, we have to take the initiative and speak it out.

Scripture Reference- Note:

Isaiah 28:11, "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people."

Acts 2:1-4Comments- The Outpouring of the Spirit - It is important to note that the Holy Spirit filled the house before it filled the people. This first congregation of believers was gathered in an attitude of prayer and waiting upon the Lord. It was this receptive attitude that opened the windows of Heaven for the Holy Spirit to come. However, it was in the presence of the Lord, under the anointing, that people received from God. This principle still happens today and has continued over the past two thousand years of Church history. Each time God's people gather with an attitude of prayer and a receptive heart, God visits by pouring out His Spirit and working miracles and filling them afresh with the Holy Ghost. This is what Paul was referring to when he said, "He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" ( Galatians 3:5)

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

Acts 2:5Comments- The devout attribute of these Jews was testified by the fact that they had traveled from afar as pilgrims to this holy convocation in Jerusalem.

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

Acts 2:6"Now when this was noised abroad" - Comments- There are two possible translations of this phrase. This phrase could read, "widely reported." This translation means that witnesses went and told the multitude about this experience, thus drawing a crowd. The KJV supports this meaning, as well as most other modern English versions. Note:

BBE, "And when this sound came to their ears, they all came together, and were greatly surprised because every man was hearing the words of the disciples in his special language."

Darby, "But the rumour of this having spread, the multitude came together and were confounded, because each one heard them speaking in his own dialect."

HNV, "And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speaking in his own language."

YLT, "and the rumour of this having come, the multitude came together, and was confounded, because they were each one hearing them speaking in his proper dialect,"

An alternative meaning is found in the NASB, which says, "when this sound occurred." This translation shows that many people came to find out the source of the sound because they heard a loud noise themselves. That Isaiah , no one reported the happening to them. Note:

ASV, "And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speaking in his own language."

Acts 2:6 — "the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language" - Comments- Ten days before the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, Jesus had given the disciples His commission to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The fact that these disciples spoke in the native tongues of the people who were present served as a further testimony that God was preparing them for this great missionary task. Many of those who heard these messages in tongues in their own languages took this testimony back to their homeland and synagogues. It is possible the church in Rome was started by some of these Jews who were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 2:8-11Comments- The Jews of the Diaspora- This list of nations shows us that the Jews of the Diaspora were located primarily in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, being as far east as modern day Iran. We also know that there were a few Jews as far west as Rome. The "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia" are nations located east of Jerusalem. These nations were the descendents of Shem, the son of Noah. The nations of "Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia" are located towards the north and west of Palestine, and represent the descendents of Japheth. Those nations of "Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene" are located in north Africa, and represent the descendents of Ham.

Comments - The Speech of Those Filled with the Holy Spirit - When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we begin to speak God's Word. We abandon the natural course that our physical eyes see and our mind understands in this world, and our spirit begins to guide us into a different course through our tongue. We launch out onto a spiritual journey that only our spirits can perceived, a journey that coinsides with God's purpose and plan of redemption for mankind. Thus, those believers in the upper room who were filled with the Spirit of God began to speak supernaturally in the spirit realm regarding the things of God to those Jews who were visiting Jerusalem.


Verses 1-42

The Church's Power (Justification and Indoctrination): The Witness of the Church in Jerusalem - In Acts 2:1 to Acts 5:42 we have the witness of the church in Jerusalem of how the disciples testified of the Lord Jesus under the power of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament Church receives witness to their genuine faith in Christ on the day of Pentecost as they are filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit ( Acts 2:1-41). They progress by the indoctrination of the Scriptures ( Acts 2:42-47), and begin to minister in power that brings many others to salvation while their faith is tested by persecutions ( Acts 3:1 to Acts 5:42). Under the conditions of men getting saved in the midst of signs and wonders and persecution, the genuine believers stand out as distinct among those who are false.

Outline- Here is a proposed outline:

A. Peter's Sermon on the Day of Pentecost — Acts 2:1-47

B. Peter's Sermon in the Temple & Persecution — Acts 3:1 to Acts 4:31

C. Witness of Church Growth — Acts 4:32 to Acts 5:42

A Promise, a Prayer, and the Power - In the first two chapters of the book of Acts , we see that there was a promise ( Acts 1:8), followed by prayer ( Acts 1:14), then the power was released ( Acts 2:1-4). We must be people of prayer in order to receive God's power, even though it is promised to us.

Old Testament References Used by Peter the Apostle - In the first two chapters of the book of Acts , Peter the apostle quotes from various Old Testament passages in relation to the fulfillment of prophecy. Perhaps Jesus had taught His disciples using these same passages during His 40-day visit after the Resurrection. This would explain Peter"s insight into otherwise difficult interpretations. Or, Peter was speaking by the Holy Spirit, giving him the interpretation.


Verses 1-47

Peter's Sermon on the Day of Pentecost - Acts 2:1-47 gives the testimony of Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost — Acts 2:1-13

2. Peter's Sermon on the Day of Pentecost — Acts 2:14-36

3. The Response of the People on the Day of Pentecost — Acts 2:37-41

4. Daily Life Among the Believers — Acts 2:42-47

The Gift of Tongues on the Day of Pentecost- Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:11-22 that the Father's divine plan in redemption is to break down the dividing walls among nations in order to build a habitation for God to dwell among His people. Thus, He is trying to bring unity back to the people on the earth. The first time God poured out His Spirit at the Tower of Babel in order to divide the peoples into seventy nations. The second time was the day of Pentecost and it was intended to bring all nations back into one group making peace.

In Genesis 11:1-9 the gift of tongues was intended to divide the people into nations. In contrast, the gift of tongues that was poured out on the day of Pentecost was intended to unite all people into one new man in Christ Jesus. This is why the Jews of the Diaspora clearly understood them speaking in their own language in order for them to hear the Gospel and become one in Christ Jesus.


Verses 14-21

The Prophecy of Joel - In Acts 2:14-21 Peter begins his sermon with a text from Joel 2:28-32. We must keep in mind that there were no books of the New Testament written for almost twenty years, so the early believers preached Christ Jesus from the Old Testament Scriptures. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a sign that gave Peter this opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:15Comments- The third hour of the day would be 9:00 a.m. in the morning, since the ancient Jews began their day at 6:00 a.m. 118]

118] Alfred Edersheim says, "It is noteworthy that in Genesis 1we always read, ‘And the evening and the morning were the first day,' or second, or third day, etc. Hence the Jews calculate the day from evening to evening, that Isaiah , from the first appearance of the stars in the evening to the first appearance of stars next evening, and not, as we do, from midnight to midnight." See Alfred Edersheim, The Bible History Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eedmann Publishing Company, c 1876-1887, 1984) 19.

Acts 2:16-21Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Acts 2:16-21 is a quote from Joel 2:28-32.

Joel 2:28-32, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call."

Comments- Note the word "afterward" in Joel 2:28. What event is Joel referring to that will take place before the out of the Holy Spirit? God will pour out His Spirit after we blow the trumpet to warn God's people ( Joel 2:1) and after God's people turn their hearts in repentance ( Joel 2:12-13), and fast ( Joel 2:15) and pray ( Joel 2:17). If God's people will meet His conditions, they will receive the outpouring of His Spirit. If fact, these are the conditions that the one hundred and twenty disciples in the upper room had met in order to qualify for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

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

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

Acts 2:17"and your young men shall see visions" - Comments- Through visions God gives man direction. We see visions throughout the book of Acts.

1. God directs Ananias go to Paul:

Acts 9:10-11, "And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,"

2. God directs Paul to wait for Ananias:

Acts 9:12, "And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight."

3. God directs Cornelius to send for Simon Peter:

Acts 10:3, "He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius."

4. God directs Peter to go preach to Cornelius:

Acts 10:17, "Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon"s house, and stood before the gate,"

5. God directs Paul to go to Macedonia:

Acts 16:9, "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us."

6. Paul will come to many visions and revelations:

2 Corinthians 12:1, "It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord."

All of them were seekers of God. Song of Solomon , God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he Isaiah , and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

Acts 2:20Comments- Acts 2:20 is a quote from Joel 2:31, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come."

The Scriptures give two reasons that God created the heavenly bodies. Genesis 1:14-18 says that they are to give light upon the earth, and they are to be for signs.

Genesis 1:14, "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:"

Acts 2:20 describes the sun and the moon as being signs for the coming day of the Lord. The description given here in Acts of the sun and moon being darkened can be created by a solar and lunar eclipse. When the moon passes between the sun and the earth, a full solar eclipse can be created causing the day becoming dark, because the sun is overshadowed by the moon. Thus, "the sun shall be turned into darkness." A lunar eclipse is created when the earth passes between the sun and the moon. In a normal lunar eclipse, the moon has the dark shadow of the earth passing across it, just as in a solar eclipse. On January 9, 2001, a lunar eclipse offered spectacular show, turning the moon to a blood red. This happened because a decade before in 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted in a volcanic explosion in the Philippines. Ten years later, the debris thrown up by this volcanic eruption was still in the atmosphere. It reduced the amount of light that was being transmitted from the sun to the moon, and passing by the earth. This light diffusion caused the moon to turn an orange color as the light from the sun was bent and filtered by the earth"s atmosphere. Thus, "the moon shall be turned into blood." 119]

119] "Space Lunar Eclipse Offers Spectacular Show," 9 January 2001, The Associated Press and Reuters [on-line]; accessed 17 May 2009; available from http://www.cnn.com/2001/ASIANOW/east/01/10/china.space.ap/index.html; Internet.

The amount of debris in the atmosphere will determine the amount of light diffusion, thus determining the color of the moon. This will be a time on earth when earthquakes and volcanic eruptions will be frequent and enormous ( Matthew 24:7). Therefore, a darkened sun and a blood red moon are not hard to imagine under these circumstances.

Matthew 24:7, "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."

Other Scriptures referring to this event prophesied by Joel are:

Matthew 24:29, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:"

Luke 21:11, "And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven."

Revelation 6:12, "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;"

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


Verses 14-36

Peter's Sermon on the Day of Pentecost- In the Sermon at Pentecost, Peter preached Jesus ( Acts 2:22-36), just as Philip preached Jesus in Acts 8:5. In this sermon, Peter emphasized the fact of the resurrection as proof that Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah. This made the hearers a candidate for salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, it was Paul who received the revelation of our identity with Christ's resurrection (note Romans 6:6-12, 2 Corinthians 5:14-17, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:3). This is because the Lord gave to Paul the work of putting the doctrine of the New Testament Church into writing. Faith in the fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the milk of the Word of God, but faith in our identification with Christ's resurrection is the meat of God's Word.

Acts 8:5, "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them."

Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Colossians 3:3, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

We ask the question of how Peter quoted from the Old Testament Scriptures so extensively during his sermon on Pentecost. He certainly had no bible as we do today. These early disciples may have obtained a copy of some Old Testament books in the form of scrolls, and read them in the upper room. Most likely, Peter was quoting these passages without reading them under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Outline- Here is a proposed outline of the Sermon of Pentecost:

1. The Prophecy of Joel — Acts 2:14-21

2. The Death of Jesus Christ — Acts 2:22-23

3. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ — Acts 2:24-32

4. The Ascension and Exaltation of Jesus Christ — Acts 2:33-36


Verse 22-23

The Death of Jesus Christ - After quoting from Joel 2:28-32, Peter preaches Christ Jesus. He begins with a declaration of His death by the divine counsel and foreknowledge of God.

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

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

Acts 2:23Comments- Acts 2:23 says that Jesus was crucified by "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." Strong says the Greek verb "determinate" ( ὁρίζω) (G 3724) literally means, "to mark out," and figuratively, "to appoint, decree, specify," and he says the noun "counsel" ( βουλή) (G 1012) means, "volition, i.e. advice, purpose." Wuest explains that the Greek word βουλή was used in classical Greek literature to describe "a council convened for the purpose of administering the affairs of government," and it was used of "the camp-fire council of Zenophon and his officers" when they met each night to decide a "pre-determined course of action" for the following day's march. (Xenophon, Anabasis books 2, 4, 5, 6, 7) 120] He then applies this picture to the Trinity as they planned a course of action to redeem mankind from his fallen condition. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit convened and took counsel together, since it takes more than one person to conspire in a legitimate council. Wuest says the phrase "the determinate counsel" thus means that "these deliberations were for the purpose of determining something," which was to chose the Son to be crucified beforehand as a means of redeeming mankind. Wuest then makes the conclusion that the phrase "the determinate counsel" stands parallel and equal in meaning to the word "foreknowledge" ( πρόγνωσις) (G 4268) based on the Granville Sharp rule of Greek grammar. 121] He says the Greek word "foreknowledge" includes not only previous knowledge of circumstances, but within the context of Acts 2:23 it carries the idea of "foreordination," which is the way it is translated in 1 Peter 1:20, "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." Wuest says the word πρόγνωσις "speaks of the sovereign act of God foreordaining certain from among mankind to be saved." The argument of Wuest fails in the fact that the Granville Sharp rule says that two Greek words in this construction are related, but it does not say that they have the same definition and meaning. For example, in the first example used by Sharp of Matthew 12:22, "the blind and dumb (man)," both attributes of blind and dumb relate to the same individual, but these two words do not have the same meaning.

120] William Barrack, Lexicon to Xenophon's Anabasis (London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1872), see βουλευω, 28; Xenophon, Anabasis, in The History of Xenophon, vols 1-2, trans. Henry G. Dakyns, in The Historians of Greece, vols 8-9, ed. Thomas M. Alexander (New York: The Tandy-Thomas Company, 1909), vol 1: 195, 206, 207, 293, vol 2: 11, 34, 39, 40, 52, 54, 75, 116, 176.

121] Granville Sharp Rule One says, "When the copulative καί connects two nouns of the same case, [viz. nouns (either Substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connection, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill,] if the article , or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i. e. it denotes a farther description of the first-named person…" See Granville Sharp, Remarks on the Use of the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament (London: Vernon and Hood; f. and C. Rivington; J. White and J. Hatchard; and L. Pennington, Durham, 1803), 3.

James Dunn makes a similar argument using the context of Bible verses to justify the expansion the definition of πρόγνωσις to include pre-election. He argues that the use of προώρισεν and πρόθεσις within the immediate context of Romans 8:28-29 justifies this expanded definition. He refers to two Old Testament passages that show God's foreknowledge at work in His plan of redemption for mankind ( Genesis 18:19, Hosea 13:5) and one that shows His foreknowledge and pre-determined counsel working together ( Jeremiah 1:5) to further support his claim. 122] However, there are no grammatical rules that require two different Greek words used in a sentence to carry the same or a similar meaning, although they relate to the same idea.

122] James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol 38A (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Romans 8:29.

Genesis 18:19, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him."

Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."

Hosea 13:5, "I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought."

Wuest acknowledges that many scholars believe the word πρόγνωσις simply means, "the prescience of God, as Vincent puts it, not the idea of pre-election." 123] I have to disagree with the conclusion of Wuest that "determinate counsel" and "foreknowledge" mean the very same thing. Within the context of Acts 2:23, these phrases can be complimentary, without being exactly the same in meaning. Jesus' death on Calvary was pre-determined and therefore, foreknown by God. God designed a plan of redemption for mankind through His pre-determined counsel, then He intervenes in the affairs of mankind based upon His foreknowledge of this plan. W. E. Vine contradicts Wuest on pre-election by saying, "God's foreknowledge involves His electing grace, but this does not preclude human will. He foreknows the exercise of faith which brings salvation." 124]

123] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest's Word Studies From the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, vol 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973), 143.

124] W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words with their Precise Meanings for English Readers (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, c 1940, 1966), "Foreknow, Foreknowledge," 119.


Verses 24-32

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ - After declaring the death of Jesus Christ, Peter preaches His Resurrection in Acts 2:24-32. In this part of the sermon, he cites Psalm 16:8-11 and interprets its prophetic fulfillment in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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

Acts 2:24Comments - In Acts 2:24 Peter alludes to a number of possible Old Testament Scriptures:

2 Samuel 22:6, "The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;"

Psalm 18:4, "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid."

Psalm 116:3, "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow."

Acts 2:25-28Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - In Acts 2:25-28 the apostle Peter quotes from Psalm 16:8-11.

Psalm 16:8-11, "I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."

Acts 2:30Comments - In Acts 2:30 Peter alludes to Psalm 132:11, "The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne..


Verses 33-36

The Ascension and Exaltation of Jesus Christ - Having preached the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Peter declares His ascension and exaltation at the right hand of the Father. In this part of the sermon, he cites Psalm 110:1 and interprets its prophetic fulfillment in the exaltation of Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:34-35Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - In Acts 2:34-35 the apostle Peter quotes from Psalm 110:1, A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."


Verses 37-41

The Response of the People on the Day of Pentecost - In Acts Luke records the response of the people, as Peter's sermon adds three thousand people to the early Church.

Acts 2:37Comments- Note how Peter did not plead for a decision nor give an altar call. The anointing of the Holy Spirit prompted this response.

Acts 2:38Comments - Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. The people responded and said, "What shall we do to be saved?" Of course, Peter answered their question in all of his fullness because they not only wanted to be saved from their sins, but they wanted to be saved from an oppressive life, from a problematic life. Thus, he leads them in the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Note the order of events: repentance, baptism (In Jesus' name), receiving the Holy Ghost. This is similar to Jesus receiving the Holy Ghost after His water baptism in the Jordan River ( Matthew 3:16).

Matthew 3:16, "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:"

Note that the apostles repented and were baptized with John the Baptist's ministry ( Acts 1:21-22) and at Pentecost, they received the Holy Ghost.

Acts 1:21-22, "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John , unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection."

The same order is seen in Acts 19:5-6 : baptism, then the Holy Ghost.

Acts 19:5-6, "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."

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

Acts 2:38-39Comments - The Promise of the Father- The promise of the Father is the giving of His Holy Spirit. Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts regarding this passage of Holy Scripture:

"For the promise of the Father is to all who believe, yea, to all who are called, even those who are afar off ( Acts 2:39). And this promise is the gift of the indwelling presence of My Holy Spirit, promised to all who have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, who have repented of their sins and received remission ( Acts 2:38)." 125]

125] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 43.

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

Acts 2:37-40Comments- Foundational Doctrines of Scripture- Acts 2:37-40 deals with the first three of the six foundational doctrines of Scripture, repentance from dead works, faith towards God, and the doctrine of baptisms ( Hebrews 6:1-2). Acts 2:40 suggests that the other three doctrines may have been mentioned and not recorded.

Hebrews 6:1-2, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

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


Verses 42-47

Daily Life among the Believers - Acts 2:42-47 gives us a description of the daily life among the believers in the early Church.

Giving in the Early Church- The early church not only gave tithes, but shared their material substance with one another. As a missionary in Africa, I have seen some churches where the pastor rose up in great prosperity because he over spent the contributions on himself. There should be a balance to how the church contributions are spent. Acts 2:44-45 teaches that the funds should largely help those in the church who have needs.

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

Acts 2:42Comments - The early Church addressed the needs of the entire make-up of man: mental (apostles' doctrine), social (fellowship), physical (breaking of bread), and spiritual (prayers), which are reflected in Acts 2:42. "the apostles" doctrine" - The early believers did not have the books of the New Testament to read. Therefore, they relied upon the Old Testament Scriptures for several decades until the Gospels and New Testament epistles were written and dispersed. These early Jewish believers relied upon the teachings of the apostles as they interpreted the Old Testament in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which became a distinct doctrine unique from that taught in the local synagogues. Thus, the phrase "the apostles' doctrine" is used in Acts 2:42 to describe these early teachings. "fellowship" - The fellowship of the early believers reflected a spiritual bond that superseded their Jewish heritage and family ties. These believers soon faced persecutions from the Jewish community because of their faith in Jesus Christ. "breaking of bread" - The phrase "breaking of bread" includes both communion and love feasts ( Jude 1:12) that the early Church practiced. "prayers" - It is possible that prayers included worship with songs and Scriptural hymns.

Jude 1:12, "These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;"

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

Acts 2:43 — "And fear came upon every soul" - Comments - Note other places in the book of Acts where the fear of God fell:

1. Acts 5:5, "and great fear camp on all them that heard"

2. Acts 5:11, "and great fear came upon all the church"

3. Acts 9:31, "The churches… walking in the fear of the Lord"

4. Acts 19:17, "and fear fell on them all"

Also, the Old Testament records the fear of God fall upon people:

Genesis 35:5, "And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob."

2 Chronicles 14:14, "And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them."

Illustration- In 1990 or 1991, while taking lunch, I envisioned Jesus' feet ascending upon the Mount of Olives. Then, an awesome fear and reverence of God fell upon me. I now know how I am going to feel one day before God's throne when I giving an account of my life. All I could say during this vision was "Holy, holy is the Lord" ( Isaiah 6:3), and "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips" ( Isaiah 6:5). This anointing lasted a few minutes and lifted, but the effects of that experience lingered for hours.

Acts 2:44-45Comments - All Things in Common- Many churches today are structured so that the church leadership keeps the donations confidential. In extreme cases, the pastor becomes wealthy by spending these donations on his personal gain. In many other cases, the funds are wasted unnecessarily. Biblicaly, these donations are to be used to benefit the congregation. In other words, the congregration should have these donations shared in common. They should be the beneficiaries of church funds. In addition, the congregration should decide corporately on the budget, agreeing on how to portion the budget towards missions, building expenses, salaries, etc. However, such congregational agreement should be limited to those church members who are faithful in tithes and offers and serving together.

Acts 2:47"the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" - Comments - The Church began with 120 people ( Acts 1:15), increased to 3000 ( Acts 2:41), to 5000 ( Acts 4:4), added more ( Acts 5:14), multiplied ( Acts 6:1), and multiplied greatly ( Acts 6:7).

The Lord still adds to the church daily, but the church is made up of those who acknowledge Jesus as Head and who do His word.

For the Lord to add daily, we must be like the church in the book of Acts , and be obedient to God's Word.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 2:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/acts-2.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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