The Holy Spirit arrives with great power at the festival of Pentecost. Peter preaches the first sermon after the birth of the church. He tells the Jewish pilgrims that they must repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Three thousand souls were added to the church. Then the earliest community shared everything in common, and more people were being saved.
As I write in every introduction:
The translation and commentary are mine, just so I can learn. I also offer quick word studies. If you would like to see the verses in many translations, please go to biblegateway.com. And if you would like to study Greek with a short lexicon, go to biblehub.com, and click on the interlinear tab.
At the end of each passage and this post, I offer observations for discipleship. How can we apply these truths to our lives?
Links are provided for further study.
The Promised Spirit Empowers 120 Disciples (Acts 2:1-13)
1 And when the Feast of Pentecost had fully come, all of them were together in that same place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there was a sound like the rush of a powerful wind. And it filled the whole house where they were staying, 3 and dividing tongues as fire were seen to them and settled on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them inspiration to speak.
5 Devout Jews were staying in Jerusalem, men and women from every nation under heaven. 6 When this sound happened, the crowd came together and were amazed because each one heard them speaking in their own language. 7 They were beside themselves with amazement and marveled, saying, “Look! Aren’t all of them Galileans who are speaking? 8 So how do we each hear them in our own language, to which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites; and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the regions of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking with our own languages the great things of God!”
12 They were beside themselves with amazement and were greatly perplexed, talking to each other, saying, “What does this mean?” 13 Others mocked and were saying, “They are drunk on sweet wine!”
Many rightly believe this event was the birth of the church, which happened fifty days after Jesus was crucified and resurrected. Pentecost means “fifty.” For sure it is the most important chapter in the Renewal Movement. It is the most important chapter in all of Acts. It launches everything else.
This is the Jerusalem / Judean Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4; the Samaritan Pentecost will happen in Acts 8:14-17. Paul’s Personal Pentecost will be in Acts 9:17; the Gentile Pentecost will happen in Acts 10:44-48; and Pentecost for John the Baptist’s followers will happen in Acts 19:1-7. The Pentecost that launched the others was here in Jerusalem / Judea.
The Feast of Pentecost is the reason Pentecostals have named themselves by their name. Please see this link to find out how to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.
“that one place” is surely the same place as the upper room (Acts 1:13), but the text does not say it, though it was in a house (v. 2). Or it may have been the temple precinct because in the next section the crowd of the populace will come together when they heard the rush of something akin to a mighty wind. But I think it was the upper room stated in 1:13, and the filled and empowered disciples went down stairs, when someone among them saw the crowd gather and heard their talkative amazement.
How do we know there were 120 in the house, when the text here does not say it explicitly? The 120 were in the house constantly and persistently devoted to prayer (Acts 1:13). So there is no reason to exclude them now. Luke does not always have to repeat himself. Plus, Peter quotes from the prophet Joel, who is clear about men and women receiving the outpouring of the Spirit and the gifts of divine communication and revelation (vv. 16-21).
On the direction Luke is taking Acts, in contrast to Judaism and the Law:
Rather, by paralleling Jesus’ baptism with the experience of Jesus early followers at Pentecost, Luke is showing that the mission of the Christian church—as was also the ministry of Jesus—is dependent on the coming of the Holy Spirit. And by his stress on Pentecost as the day when the miracle took place, he is also suggesting (1) that the Spirit’s coming was in continuity with God’s purposes in giving the Law, and yet (2) that the Spirit’s coming signals the essential difference between Jewish faith and commitment to Jesus. For whereas Judaism is Torah-centered and Torah-directed, Christianity is Christ-centered and Spirit-directed—all of which sounds very much like Paul. (Longenecker, comment on v. 1)
“house”: Acts is about salvation of entire households and meeting in those saved households (2:2, 46; 5:42; 8:3, but be careful of persecution in 8:3! 10:2; 11:14; 16:15, 31, 34; 20:20; 21:8).
Luke uses hesitant language: “like,” “as.” “Throughout the Old Testament fire phenomena are used to depict the presence of God (cf. Exod. 3:2; 19:18; 1 Kgs 18:38–39; Ezek. 1:27)” (Polhill, comment on v. 3). The real sound and the real tongues as fire (not “tongues as of fire”) were still representative of divine, heavenly reality, much like the dove that descended on Jesus at his baptism was a real dove representing heavenly reality (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32). I believe the fire looked like tongues. What else did the disciples see? A physical tongue settling on them? Not likely. It was fiery tongues, appropriate, since they are about to receive the gift of Spirit-inspired language (archaically called “tongues”).
Both sexes were in the house, since “brothers” is not exclusive, but inclusive of women, like our word “mankind.” And presumably Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers were empowered (cf. Acts 1:14). The Spirit fills all people equally. It seems churlish and counterproductive and domineering to restrict women’s role in the church when the Spirit had just immersed-baptized them for service. Women should go forth in the power and fulness of the Spirit and “do the stuff.”
“wind”: it is a different word than pneuma, which can mean Spirit or wind, depending on the context. Here the noun is pnoē (pronounced pn-oh-ay). In v. 4, Luke will use pneuma. There is no confusion between the two, in Luke’s theology. The Spirit is a person.
For systematic theology:
The Spirit settled “on” or “upon” them. The Greek preposition is epi (pronounced eh-pea), which has the basic meaning of “upon.” But he did not just settle on them. He filled them.
“staying” could be translated as “sitting,” which is the first meaning to begin with.
The commentary on this verse is long, since the verse is so important for Renewal Movements. It may get a little technical, but I hope I don’t stray too far from helping you grow in Christ.
The verb pimplēmi (pronounced pim-play-mee or peem-play-mee) means “filled”: Luke 1:15 (John); 1:41 (Elizabeth); 1:67 (Zechariah); Acts 2:4 (the 120 disciples); 4:8 (Peter); 4:31 (disciples); 9:17 (Paul); 13:9 (Paul). Here it is in the aorist verb tense, meaning a moment in the past—right then and there for them. But Luke will uses the adjective “full” or the verb “filled” in later verses, indicating that disciples can receive the Spirit and power throughout their lives.
Further, whenever we see those two words or their synonyms, like “receive,” we should understand them as including prayer languages or some visible sign of power or expression. The reasons for this is that the entire book of Acts is very charismatic, and the Spirit is behind it all. For example, in Acts 11:24 Barnabas is said to be full of the Holy Spirit and faith. It is inconceivable that he would not have his prayer language, as an associate of Saul / Paul, who stated the fact that he prays in the Spirit more than all the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:18). To that point, Saul was said to receive the Spirit, but Luke does not mention anything about Spirit-inspired languages (Acts 9:17). Luke does not need to link the fullness or baptism of the Spirit with prayer languages in every verse that talks about this fullness. It would be like Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, intervening to tell his readers on every other page, “Don’t forget! We’re on a whaling ship!” The author assumes the readers know this from the context—from the entire book of Acts. New Testament narratives are very elliptical (omit things). However, I won’t push Luke’s silence too hard.
The verb baptizō (pronounced bahp-tee-zoh) means to “immerse” or “plunge” or “dip”: Matt. 3:11 // Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26 (crowds); Acts 1:5 (on 120); Acts 11:16 (Peter repeating what John and Jesus said); 1 Cor. 12:13 (Spirit baptized Corinthian church into one body).
They signify the same spiritual reality. The main point is that Jesus is the Baptizer (Matt. 3:11; Mar 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26). One could also say he is the “filler” or “he who fills” with the Spirit.
So what does baptism mean? John the Baptist’s water baptism was immersion. He could have been called “John the Dipper” or “John the Immerser.” The Spirit immersed spirit and soul, and even their bodies (Rom 8:11), just as water immersed John’s candidates. The body too, since the Spirit inspiring them to speak affected (but not forced) the physical tongue.
This is Peter’s first infilling. He will get two more, which are recorded (Acts 4:8, 31). And then the Spirit will empower him to receive a vision (Acts 10:9-16). Never put God in your small “theology box.” Instead, follow Scripture.
For more detail and theology of filling and baptizing in the Spirit, please click on
Schnabel says that the word choice for filled is more intense here, indicating short outbursts of spiritual power / inspiration rather than a long-term endowment of the Spirit. This fact “explains why a person might be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ on many occasions while at the same time remaining ‘full’ of the Spirit” (comment on v. 4). In other words, we can always be full of the Spirit, but we don’t have to have continual outbursts of Spirit-inspired speech. This seems balanced, though maybe too much is built on the two verbs and verb tense.
Peterson agrees, though, after studying the different Greek verbs and nouns for “fill”: “Someone who is already filled with or full of the Spirit can receive a further filling or enabling for a particular ministry (cf. Acts 4:31). So ‘our western logical concept that something which is full cannot be filled any further is misleading if applied to the Spirit. One filling is compatible with another’” (comment on v. 4, and he quotes commentator Marshall).
Now let’s discuss “languages” and “tongues.”
In Greek glōssa (pronounced gloh-sah) means both the physical tongue and a language. In older English, during the translation of the King James Version, tongue meant both the physical tongue and language. In the early seventeenth century and later, the tongue and language could be synonyms. Note the line in the 1739 hymn, “O for a thousand tongues!” No doubt today it would have been written “O for a thousand languages!” (if the syllables matched the notes). Today, however, we don’t say, “This is the German tongue,” but “this is the German language.”
The New Century Version, the Contemporary English Version, the New Living Translation, and the Message Bible all correctly use languages in v. 4. The editors of the Spirit-Filled Life Bible (3rd ed., Thomas Nelson, 2018) in their notes call the God-given gift “spiritual languages” in many cases.
The 120 disciples were speaking xenolalia or foreign tongues / languages. The miracle was in the speaking, not hearing (Schnabel, comment on v. 4).
“languages, as the Spirit gave them inspiration to speak and declare”: The reason for my expanded translation is found in the Greek verb in vv. 4 and 14: apophthengomai (pronounced ah-poh-f’then-goh-my) used only three times in the NT, twice in chapter 2 and once Acts 26:25. It can mean in certain contexts to speak out and declare under inspiration (BDAG, p. 125). Even the great conservative scholar F. F. Bruce says the term means “a weighty and oracular utterance” and references 1 Chron. 25:1 in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible in the 3rd century BC). It is impossible to imagine a more powerful “weighty and oracular utterance” that the Holy Spirit himself inspiring the 120 in Acts 2:1-13.
So whenever glōssa is used in the context of the gift and empowerment of the Spirit, I translate it “Spirit-inspired languages” or “spiritual languages” or “prayer languages” or “heavenly languages,” not “tongues,” in the PGD Commentary. Nowadays the word tongues has acquired a certain whiff or strong smell of contempt and condescension and irrationality from its detractors. Therefore, it would be great if those who have the God-given and wonderful gift of glossolalia (“language talking”) would stop using the word tongues, but instead called it a term that reflects the Greek text more accurately, in order to help the critics to understand the experience better.
But I see no change in vocabulary anytime soon.
Five questions are inevitably raised. For them and the possible answers, please click on the What and Why of Spirit-Inspired Languages.
For now, here are only the questions:
First, is receiving the Holy Spirit a necessary ingredient for salvation?
Second, is a Spirit-inspired language a necessary condition for salvation?
Third, are you saying those who have been born again are not baptized and immersed in the Spirit and are therefore second-class Christians?
Fourth, is the Spirit-inspired language the necessary sign of the baptism-immersion in the Spirit?
Fifth, were the disciples in Acts 2:1-4 already filled with the Spirit before they were (re)filled in Acts 2:1-4, or was this their first time to be Spirit-immersed and Spirit-empowered?
Peter will proclaim later in this chapter that this outpouring is for them back then and for all who are far off into the future and spread around geographically—you and me (vv. 38-39). He will learn later that Cornelius, a Gentile (non-Jew), will receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit with a Spirit-inspired language (Acts 10:34-35).
In Acts, Luke links receiving prayer languages with being filled with the Spirit in three explicit paradigmatic or exemplary instances, and one clearly implied paradigmatic and exemplary instance.
Here in Jerusalem, the 120 disciples at the birth of the church knew Jesus from the beginning or early on (2:1-4). The church was born and empowered, and the charismatic environment can now ripple throughout Acts, and this gift and the Spirit’s power are for everyone who are afar in the distance and subsequent generations (2:39).
It is important to realize three biblical facts. First, that they had already converted to and trusted in the Messiah (Luke 9:1-2; Luke 10:22; John 20:22). They had already been saved. Second, they received their prayer language as a sign of this infilling of the Spirit. Third, therefore salvation and the infilling of the Spirit are two distinct divine acts.
Luke expects us to fill his omissions with the power of the Spirit because the entire sweep or context of his book is charismatic. It is similar to his omitting water baptism in key places. Often he does say that new converts got baptized: Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12-13, 35-38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:14-15, 31-33; 18:8; 19:5), Yet in other cases water baptism is not brought up for new converts: Acts 9:42; 11:21; 13:12, 48; 14:1; 17:12, 34). During Paul’s (and Barnabas’s) first missionary journey, not one recorded water baptism took place, but we can be sure they did because this was standard practice. This is why I have nicknamed him Luke the Omitter. (Or he could be called Luke the Condenser.)
The Septuagint (pronounced sep-TOO-ah-gent) is the third-to-second B.C. translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. In the story about the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9), the word sugcheō appears (pronounced sug-kh-eh-oh) in 11:7, and it means a strong mental and verbal reaction. Here in v. 6, Luke uses the same word when the pilgrims to Jerusalem react. So there is a connection between the outpouring of the Spirit here in Acts and the curse of languages at the Tower of Babel story. In the book of Acts God is reversing the curse of judgment with Spirit-inspired languages. But this reversal is not sudden but is happening all the way through the last days, as God still pours out his Spirit and whoever wants to receive the gift of Spirit-inspired languages. Eventually, in the Messianic kingdom, That Age, the curse at Babel will have been fully reversed.
Some have observed that Luke does not actually state that the 120 left the upper room, so they picture that somehow the Jerusalem crowds for Pentecost may not have heard them or only a few heard them, while the disciples were speaking in the upper room. But the imperfect tense of the verb “hearing” indicates that the 120 were speaking over a duration. Also, the Luke author omits small data points throughout Acts (which I will point out as we go), and he expects the readers to assume or fill in. Such is the cooperation between the writer and audience.
The geographical regions are where Jews lived in the Diaspora (Dissemination or Scattering).
After this quick introduction, let’s interpret the whole passage, not verse by verse, because the main point is the people speaking in foreign or unlearned languages.
In v. 11 Glōssa and v. 8, dialektos (pronounced gloh-sa and dee-ah-lehk-tohss) are synonyms: language (BDAG p. 211), which is understandable by someone. They are not ecstatic language or speech, if “ecstatic” means gibberish, as BDAG seems to imply (p. 201). They are not “ecstatic” or mentally out of control, at all. They are Spirit-inspired and Spirit prompted.
This whole episode was a miracle of speaking, not of hearing (contrary to what some teachers and bloggers claim). That is, the 120 spoke Aramaic or Hebrew, and the pilgrims heard them in their own languages. In reply, however, the miracle was in the believers and those filled with the Spirit, not in the unbelievers and those who were not filled with the Spirit (Bock, p. 97).
Simply and clearly stated, Acts 2:1-4 says the 120 disciples spoke in different and unlearned languages to their own, and it says the listeners understood their own languages and marveled that the disciples could speak in them. Galileans had a distinct “northern” accent, different from a southern, Judean accent, where the holy capital (Jerusalem) was. In other words, the Galileans were thought to be rough around the edges, particularly businessmen and fishermen, while the Judeans claimed the thriving capital. Too many Gentiles up north. But here they are speaking in other languages in perfect local accents.
Next, 1 Cor. 14 lays out the guidelines for the church assembled together speaking in Spirit-inspired languages, and basically it is this. Paul, who was not there at Pentecost, says in vv. 10-13 that there are many languages in the world, and each has its own value (today we know there are over 7000 spoken languages). But if one speaks in a Spirit-inspired language that no one understands with their minds, then the speaker will sound like a foreigner, and no edification will take place in the assembly. But note that Paul does not say the language that is not understood with the mind is gibberish. Just because someone speaks in a Spirit-inspired language that you personally do not understand does not allow you to draw the false conclusion that the speaker is babbling nonsense (contrary to the opinion of bloggers). He could be speaking in one of those 7000+ languages. God does not inspire gibberish.
In Acts 2:5-13, the speakers did not understand the Spirit-inspired languages with their minds, but the hearers understood those languages with their minds. Likewise, 1 Cor. 14:14-15 says one can pray in a Spirit-inspired language, and his spirit prays, but his mind receives no fruit from it because the mind does not understand the Spirit-inspired language. But the speaker’s spirit is edified. Nonetheless, Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to pray in Spirit-inspired languages through their human spirits, and to pray with their minds in known languages that their minds understand.
Acts 2 (so far) describes the birth of the church. The Spirit’s power propelled the church forward with rapid growth and outreach motivated out of love, for 3000 people were added to the 120 (v. 41). As an addition to this section, we noted that Paul clarified in his First Epistle to the Corinthians that he wanted everyone to speak in Spirit-inspired languages (14:5), implying in a private setting. And in public they can do the same, but to be sure someone can interpret those languages.
When Luke lists Rome in the long list of cities and regions, he may be indicating that these pilgrims went back to Rome and started the Jewish-Christian community (Schnabel, comment on vv. 9-10). It certainly has a long history. Proselytes are those who converted to Judaism; men were circumcised, while women went through a ritual bath and offered a sacrifice (Bock, p. 104 and Bruce, 1990, p. 58). There were more female proselytes than male, understandably. Whatever the case, they probably went back to Rome to begin the Messianic community there.
7 and 12:
“beside themselves”: the Greek verb existēmi (pronounced (ex-ee-stay-mee) can be translated literally as “they were standing beside themselves” Or “they were beside themselves.” Most translations go with “stunned” or “astonished” or “amazed.”
GrowApp for Acts 2:1-13
A.. You need to be empowered with the Spirit to carry out your mission. Did you receive any gift? Describe your experience with the Spirit’s empowerment.
Peter Proclaims Outpouring of the Spirit and Resurrection (Acts 2:14-36)
14 Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted his voice and with inspiration spoke to them: “Men of Judea and all of you living in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and pay attention to my words! 15 For these men and women are not drunk as you assume, for it is the third hour of the day! 16 Rather, this is that spoken through the mouth of Joel:
17 ‘It shall be in the last days, says God,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people,
And your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
And your young people shall see visions,
And your elderly people shall dream dreams,
18 Even on my male servants and female servants in the last days
I shall pour out my Spirit and they shall prophesy.
19 I shall cause wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below—
Blood and fire and billows of smoke
20 The sun shall change into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the coming of the great and splendid day of the Lord.
21 And it shall be that all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Joel 2:28-32).
22 “My fellow Israelites, men and women, hear these words! God appointed Jesus the Nazarene for you, with miracles, wonders and signs, which God did through him, right in front of you, as you yourselves know. 23 In the counsel and foreknowledge of God, this man was handed over to lawless men and fastened to the cross, and you put him to death.
24 But God lifted him up, when he destroyed the agony of death, because it was impossible for him to be ruled by it. 25 For David said about him:
‘I saw the Lord before me always,
That he was at my right so that I may not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart was cheered up
And my tongue rejoiced
for yet my flesh also shall rest in hope
27 because you will not leave my soul in hades,
Neither shall you give your holy one over to experience decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ [Ps. 16:8-11]
29 “Brothers and sisters! It is permissible for me to say to you with boldness about our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is nearby, right in front of us to this very day. 30 Therefore, since he was a prophet and knew that God swore an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne— 31 foreseeing this, he spoke about the resurrection of the Christ that he would not be abandoned in Hades, and neither would his flesh experience corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, of whom we are all witnesses. 33 So then after he was exalted to the right hand of God and after received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he poured out this which you see and hear. 34 For David did not go up into heaven, but he himself says:
‘the Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I put your enemies
Under your feet for a footstool” [Ps. 110:1]
36 Therefore let the whole house of Israel know with certainty that God made him Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Some scholars call this discourse the Pentecost Sermon, while Peter’s discourse in Acts 3 is called the Colonnade Sermon (after the location where Peter preached it).
Let’s comment on the whole passage before we get to the verses. The Spirit’s descent ushered in the last days or a new era. We have been in the last days for 2000 years. God is in no hurry. He counts one day as a thousand days, and a thousand days as one day (2 Peter 3:8; Ps. 90:4). Our timeline is not the same as his.
In this whole speech, Peter shows himself to be a “Bible guy” or a “Word guy.” Who knew a humble fisherman from Galilee would know so much Scripture? Of course scholars say the speech is just educated Luke’s summary. That may be true up to a point, but Peter has to take credit somewhere and somehow. He learned the Bible as a child with a basic education. He probably went to synagogue where Messianic prophecies were discussed. He may have done his own reading in his spare time, with (expensive) biblical texts at the local synagogue. More immediately, he spent time discussing Scripture with those who knew it and came to believe in Jesus, before and after his resurrection. Jesus spent a fair amount of time explaining to two men on the road to Emmaus village how he fulfilled biblical prophecy (Luke 24:25-27). It is a sure thing he did the same with other disciples for the forty days from Passover to before Pentecost.
Please learn Messianic prophecies. They are important for your knowledge of God and your witness. Here is a table of them:
Jesus not only fulfills those quoted verses in the table, but he also fulfills the themes and patterns and concepts of Scripture, like the entire sacrificial system and the temple itself. His church is now the temple where God’s presence dwells.
Peter stood up with the eleven, including Matthias. It must have been something to see the twelve together in unity (Ps. 133:1). However, everyone or all—not just them—received the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2, 4). This gift is not just for the elite.
“Spoke with inspiration”: This translation is based on the Greek verb apophthengomai. See v. 4 for its meaning.
Prophecy makes the best and clearest sense when it is fulfilled right at that moment or shortly afterwards. And so it is here. Joel could not see the details, but now Peter, his audience and we can understand Joel’s prophecy more clearly.
“third hour”: This is nine o’clock (9:00) in the morning. Peterson rightly sees Peter’s initial rebuttal as “good humor” (comment on vv. 14-15).
In v. 15 the Greek says “men,” but this is generic for both sexes, like mankind. And in Joel’s prophecy both men and women are explicitly mentioned.
Luke has a special place in his Gospel and Acts for womankind. Many times they are mentioned, but often only in passing, unfortunately. Here they are in a prominent place, receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who is poured out on all peoples, everywhere. This outpouring is not static or abstract, but it is kinetic and moves and acts. Signs in people and signs in the heavens must happen.
In v. 17, Peter says “in the last days” (plural). Joel, in contrast, says “afterwards.” So what does the “last days” refer to? It is probable that Peter is talking about the end of the Old Order of Judaism; it is Judaism as Moses established it that was in its last days, its last throes. Now we live in a new age, the Church Age. Hebrew 1:1: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (NIV, emphasis added). The Epistle to the Hebrews is all about the end of old Mosaic Judaism and the New Age launched by God’s Son (Heb. 8:8).
Please note, however, that the phrase “last days” (plural) can also refer to the Church Age (2 Peter 3:3; 2 Tim. 3:1). Further, the last day (singular) typically refers to the final day, the day when Jesus comes back and puts every human through the final judgment and recreates the heaven and earth to become a new heaven and earth (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:8; 2 Pet. 2:9; 3:10).
Here in Acts 2, Peter is now speaking of a New Age of the Spirit, during which even elders and sons and daughters and male and female servants can be called to be prophetic. The Spirit’s outpouring is not just on extra-holy prophets and remnant in the OT, but for everyone. The door of the Spirit has swung wide open to all people, as many as the Father has called and sanctified. The Old Order is gone, and a New Order has arrived.
“pour out”: the verb suggests, in Greek, a torrential downpour (Bock, p. 113).
In the OT, only God, the LORD can pour out the Spirit; but here in Acts 2, Jesus also poured him out and baptized them (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; cf. Acts 1:5). This is high Christology.
Let’s discuss these supernatural gifts.
First, daughters will prophesy. This is more than just inspired preaching and teaching, though it includes that. Prophecy is Spirit-inspired speech in a language the people understand. Philip, one of the seven in Acts 6:1-7, had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9) at Caesarea, a town on the Mediterranean.
Continuing our voyage from Tyre, we landed at Ptolemais, greeted the brothers and sisters and we stayed one day with them. 8 The next day we departed and went to Caesarea and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. (Acts 21:7-9)
What did the four daughters speak? How did they minister? Were they told to keep quiet in the local Christian community as it gathered together? Doubtful.
In general terms, the purpose of prophecy is seen in 1 Cor. 14:3:
Edify, exhort, and comfort (KJV)
Edification, exhortation, and comfort (NKJV)
Strengthen, encourage, and comfort (NIV)
Strengthening, encouragement, and consolation (NET)
Edification, exhortation, and consolation (NASB)
Grow in the Lord, encouraging, and comforting (NLT)
Strength, encouragement, and comfort (NCV)
Helped, encouraged, and made to feel better (CEV)
Upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation (ESV)
Grow, be strong, and experience his presence with you (MSG)
Second, young men see visions and old(er) people will dream dreams. This means that God is not finished with revealing himself through special, Spirit-inspired revelations. Let’s not place too great an emphasis on the age groups, however. This is just Joel’s poetic and prophetic way of saying everyone can see visions and get dreams. Therefore, since the masculine endings of these nouns encompass both men and women, I translated them as the “young people” and the “elderly people,” leaves the door open to young women and elderly women. Though the nouns are in masculine, the context allows for the masculine endings to include women, much like our “mankind” does.
Please see the post for a deeper look.
Third, God’s servants, both men and women, receive the outpouring of the Spirit. There is no sexism in the kingdom of God and in the last days.
Concerning dreams and vision, some pastors expand this text in Joel and Acts to teach that people should have long-term goals and life-long ambitions (Eccl. 5:7). “Do you have a dream to be famous and influential? Go for it!” This expanded interpretation may be allowed if we’re extra-generous, but that is not the original context and meaning of Joel 2:28-32 and here in Acts. Dreams and visions are clearly talking about communication from God to people through supernatural means, specifically prophecies, dreams received while sleeping, and divinely received visions in the day or night, asleep or awake.
Have you ever received a dream from God while you were sleeping or a vision before your eyes or mind’s eyes? How would you know it came from God? It is important to stay close to believers, if you get a lot of dreams and visions. Agabus was a prophet who functioned in a team (Acts 11:27-30). His predictions came true (see Acts 21:10-11). Study the word to get your mind renewed.
The arrow means “leads to”:
Teamwork + Fellowship + Scripture → accurate predictive or encouraging prophecies
Please see the post:
Let’s continue with Joel’s prophecy. Peter’s point is that the eschatological clock is now ticking (Bock, p. 117).
He shifts to specific end-times events that have not yet been fulfilled—good thing, too, because we missed those signs in the sky and on the earth! The Day of the Lord is another way of saying his judgment (Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18, 8:11-14; Zeph. 1:14-17; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 1 Thess. 5:2-3; 2 Peter 3:12); Israel’s restoration (Is. 10:20; 11:10-11; Zech. 9:16); the first coming of Christ (Mal. 3:1-3); the kingdom of Christ (Is. 4:2-6; Mic. 4:1-7); the end of the world (Is. 24:21-23; 27:12-13; Zech. 14:1-3); the day of Christ’s return (Mark 13:24-27; 1 Cor. 1:7-8; 2 Cor. 1:14; the day of blessings for Christians (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Tim. 4:8). This is simply apocalyptic language, so we should not over-interpret it literally. If the sun were to turn dark, we would all die in a short time. If these events are to happen literally, then they occur when the new heaven and new earth are set up.
This post offers many OT passages that talk about nature being disturbed when God judges nations or a major shift happens.
Wonders and signs in v. 19 may refer to the signs and wonders down here on earth, which Jesus and the apostles did. However, Joel’s passage speaks of them in the sky. Be careful of any man who claims or actually works signs and wonders in the sky. The signs and wonders which Jesus and the Christian community worked were people-centered; they helped people.
Joel’s prophecy and Peter’s application of it means the outpouring of the Spirit to herald in the new era of life in the Spirit, for the church and eventually the whole world.
For your personal growth, the day of the Lord keeps you on the straight and narrow path and purifies your life (Matt. 7:13-14; 1 John 3:2-3).
“name”: this noun stands in for the person—a living, real person. You carry your father’s name. If he is dysfunctional, his name is a disadvantage. If he is functional and impacting society for the better, then his name is an advantage. In Jesus’s case, he has the highest status in the universe, under the Father (Col. 1:15-20). He is exalted above every principality and power (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). His character is perfection itself. His authority and power are absolute, under the Father. In his name you are seated in the heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1). Now down here on earth you walk and live as an ambassador in his name, in his stead, for he is no longer living on earth, so you have to represent him down here. We are his ambassadors who stand in for his name (2 Cor. 5:20). The good news is that he did not leave you without power and authority. He gave you his. Now you represent him in his name—his person, power and authority. Therefore under his authority we have his full authority to preach the gospel and set people free from bondages and satanic spirits and heal them of diseases.
“saved”: It is in the passive voice “shall be saved,” which indicates that the one who saves is God. This is the divine passive, which says that God is behind the scenes, working. “Saved” is the verb sōzo. Since the theology of salvation (soteriology) is so critical for our lives, let’s look more closely at the noun salvation, which is sōtēria (pronounced soh-tay-ree-ah and used 46 times) and at the verb sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh and used 106 times).
Greek is the language of the NT. BDAG, which is considered by many to be the authoritative lexicon of the NT, defines the noun sōtēria as follows, depending on the context: (1) “deliverance, preservation” … (2) “salvation.”
The verb sōzō means “save, rescue, heal” in a variety of contexts, but mostly it is used of saving the soul. BDAG says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to preserve or rescue from natural dangers and afflictions, save, keep from harm, preserve,” and the sub-definitions under no. 1 are as follows: save from death; bring out safely; save from disease; keep, preserve in good condition; thrive, prosper, get on well; (2) “to save or preserve from transcendent danger or destruction, save or preserve from ‘eternal’ death … “bring Messianic salvation, bring to salvation,” and in passive mood it means “be saved, attain salvation”; (3) some passages in the NT say we fit under the first and second definition at the same time (Mark 8:5; Luke 9:24; Rom. 9:27; 1 Cor. 3:15).
Another rarer verb is diasōzō (pronounced dee-ah-soh-zoh and used 8 times), and the prefix means “through.” Here are the occurrences: Mark 14:36; Luke 7:3; Acts 23:24; 27:43-44; 28:1, 4; 2; 1 Pet. 3:20. It means what the regular verb does, but often to be rescued through and up to the very end, like Paul’s ship landing on Malta after going through the storm.
As noted throughout this commentary on Luke-Acts, the noun salvation and the verb save go a lot farther than just preparing the soul to go on to heaven. Together, they have additional benefits: keeping and preserving and rescuing from harm and dangers; saving or freeing from diseases and demonic oppression; and saving or rescuing from sin dominating us; ushering into heaven and rescuing us from final judgment. What is our response to the gift of salvation? You are grateful and then you are moved to act. When you help or rescue one man from homelessness or an orphan from his oppression, you have moved one giant step towards salvation of his soul. Sometimes feeding a hungry man and giving clothes to the naked or taking him to a medical clinic come before saving his soul.
All of it is a package called salvation and being saved.
Acts is about salvation of entire households and meeting in those saved households (2:2, 46; 5:42; 8:3, but be careful of persecution in 8:3! 10:2; 11:14; 16:15, 31, 34; 20:20; 21:8).
As noted, above, prophecy makes the best and clearest sense when it is fulfilled right at that moment or shortly afterwards. And so it is here. David could not see the details, but now Peter, his audience and we can understand it better.
Here Peter introduces the Son of David Christology (study or doctrine of Christ). In Acts 3:11-26, he will introduce Servant Christology. Jesus is the Messianic Son of David and the Servant Messiah. If you call on the name of the LORD in the OT, you will be saved. If you call on the name of the Lord Jesus you will be saved.
“words”: It comes from the noun logos (pronounced loh-gohss). See v. 40 for a closer look.
“Wonders and signs” are two words invariably attached to each other in the NT; that is “wonders” is attached to “sign,” but sometimes “signs” can stand without its partner. And “mighty deeds,” coming from the noun dynamis (or dunamis), is added to the two words.
Let’s review them.
Dunamis (or dynamis): it is pronounced doo-na-mees and dynamis is pronounced DY-na-mis, but most teachers prefer the first one): It is often translated as power, but also “miracle” or “miraculous power.” It means power in action, not static, but kinetic. It moves. Yes, we get our word dynamite from it, but God is never out of control, like dynamite is. Its purpose is to usher in the kingdom of God and repair and restore broken humanity, both in body and soul.
Sēmeion (pronounced say-may-on): It is mostly translated as “sign” or “miraculous sign.” A sign points towards the loving God who wants to heal and redeem broken humanity, both in soul and body. Signs are indicators of God breaking into his world, but not to show off per se, but to help people and announce that he is here to save and rescue.
Teras (pronounced teh-ras): It is often translated as “wonders” and is always in the plural. Only once does it appear without “signs,” in Acts 2:19, where wonders will appear in the sky. Wonders inspire awe and worship of God through Christ who performs the wonders. The purpose is to patch up and restore broken humanity. They testify that God in his kingdom power is here to save and rescue people.
For nearly all the references of those three words and a developed theology of them, please click on this link:
The reason the Father hid Jesus’s divine attributes behind his humanity is that the Father wanted Jesus to fully experience what it was like to be human, so he could fully relate to us. He was tempted in his humanity in every way that we were, but without sin (Heb. 2:14-18).
A great truth that can change your life: God today can work the same mighty deeds and signs and wonders—through you, based on Acts 1:8 and 2:1-4 and John 14:12. We must receive his Spirit-immersion and Spirit-empowerment. This is not to say that we have his fully divine attributes (not even close!), but he does give us the Holy Spirit in fire (purification) and power, so he through us can do those things. We share in his anointing and Spirit-empowerment, because he is the Spirit-baptizer-immerser (John 1:33; Acts 2:33).
Once again, for most of the Scriptures on those three terms and a more developed theology of miracles, sings and wonders, please click on the post Miracles, Signs and Wonders.
Let’s move on to vv. 23-28.
“In the predestined counsel and foreknowledge of God”: God’s foreknowledge and predestined counsel was revealed in Scripture, which Peter quotes in Psalm 16. Yet he adds that the betrayal and crucifixion was done by the hands of men. So God decreed Christ’s death and crucifixion, but man did it. He says this to inform his listeners that none of the recent tragic events in your life caught God by surprise. And neither do your tragic events catch him by surprise. We will never be able to fully understand the interaction between God’s decretal will (his will by decree) and man’s free will. I suggest you don’t spend much time quarreling or discussing it with people, for the issue will never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction (see Acts 5:21 and 30 for more discussion).
“counsel”: it is the noun boulē (pronounced boo-lay), and BDAG is considered by many to be the authoritative Greek lexicon, and it defines the term thus: (1) “that which one thinks about as possibility for action, plan, purpose, intention”; (2) “that which one decides, resolution, decision”; (3) it can even be a council that takes up proposals and deliberates, council meeting. Here it is the first definition.
The good news: But God also decreed that he would be resurrected. God did not abandon him in the grave but raised him up. It was impossible for death to rule him.
The Greek verb for rule is krateō (pronounced krah-teh-oh) where we get our words with -cracy in them, like autocracy. It can mean “hold down,” “hold back,” or “restrain” or “arrest.” Death or the grave could not hold him down or hold him back or restrain him or rule over him. And it cannot do the same to you, either (1 Cor. 15:54-57).
You may be going through your own crucifixion (of sorts) or tough times. It is impossible for you to be ruled by death and destruction and defeat. When you go through it, God will lead you (Ps. 23) and resurrect you to his presence as you walk out your salvation.
“hades”: The term is not as clear in the details as we have been taught. It is mentioned 10 times in the NT: Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; Rev. 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14. And Matt. 11:23 // Luke 10:15 are parallels, so the number of distinct times is actually nine. And hades is not elaborated on in detail, and not even in Revelation, except for some symbolic usage. Hades itself will even be thrown in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14).
And then you too will rejoice, know the paths of life, and be filled with joy, just as the Psalmist promised in v. 28.
In v. 25, God is said to have a “hand.” He is spirit (John 4:24). This is not to be taken literally. It is anthropomorphic, a big word meaning God is described in a human way, so we can understand him better. “Hand” in this context stands in for his power and strength. After all, man works with his hands and shows his power in battle, for example, after which he reaps the reward of sitting on the throne. “Sitting at his right hand” means God rules and has everything in “hand.”
In v. 26, “heart … tongue.” These are not the physical heart or tongue, because a heart cannot bed cheered up, and neither can the physical tongue rejoice. Rather, the heart speaks of the innermost being, and tongue stands in for speech. My spirit is glad, and so my speech reflects my joy, even in the middle of the ultimate trial—death. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). This supports the truth that we should no longer call prayer language by the archaic and obsolete word ‘tongues.’
Here are the basics about resurrection in the New Testament:
1.. It was prophesied in the OT (Ps. 16:3-11; Is. 55:3; Jnh. 1:17)
2.. Jesus predicted it before his death (Mark 8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:33-34; John 2:19-22)
3.. It happened in history (Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-8)
4.. Power used to resurrect Jesus:
a.. Power of God (Acts 2:24; Eph. 1:19-20; Col. 2:12)
b.. Christ’s own power (John 10:18)
c.. Jesus is the resurrection (John 11:25-26)
d.. Power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18)
5.. Nature of Christ’s resurrection
a.. The same body that died was raised (Luke 24:39-40; John 20:27)
b.. It was a physical body
(1) He ate (Luke 24:41-43; John 21:12-13; Acts 10:40-41)
(2) He could be touched (John 20:27; 1 John 1:1)
(3) It was a gloried body (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Phil. 3:21)
(4) He passed through locked door (John 20:19, 26)
(5) He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9)
c.. It was also a transformed and glorified body
And for a review of the basics, please click on this post, also:
You can also go to youtube to find out the evidence for it. Look for Gary Habermas or Mike Licona.
For a table of his appearances and other facts, please see:
“life”: God offers people who love and know him eternal life in the here and now, so it means both life now and life in the age to come. The kingdom breaking into the world system through the life and ministry of Jesus brings life right now.
Now let’s look at life more closely.
It is the noun zoē (pronounced zoh-ay, and girls are named after it, e.g. Zoey). BDAG is the authoritative NT Greek lexicon, and it says that it has two senses, depending on the context: a physical life (e.g. life and breath) and a transcendent life. By physical life the editors mean the period from birth to death, human activity, a way or manner of living, a period of usefulness, earning a living. By transcendent life the lexicographers mean these four elements: first, God himself is life and offers us everlasting life. Second, Christ is life, who received life from God, and now we can receive life from Christ. Third, it is new life of holiness and righteousness and grace. God’s life filling us through Christ changes our behavior. Fourth, zoē means life in the age to come, or eschatological life. So our new life now will continue into the next age, which God fully and finally ushers in when Christ returns. We will never experience mere existence or death, but we will be fully and eternally alive in God.
In this verse it seems to be the first definition, but, come to think of it, we cannot exclude the second one either.
In Acts 2-4, in those three chapters, Peter repeats these six themes (Richard Longenecker, Acts of the Apostles: Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 1984), pp. 277-78:
(1). The age of fulfillment has dawned, because all the hopes and anticipation of long ago has been realized in in Christ and the outpouring in the Holy Spirit.
(2). This fulfilment has been manifested through ministry (miracles especially), death and resurrection of Jesus (proof of Scripture is offered).
(3). Through the resurrection Jesus has been exalted to the right handoff the father and is the Messiah of Israel.
(4). The Holy Spirit in the Church is Christ’s present power and glory.
(5). The Messianic Age will be consummated with the return of Christ. Peter and others seemed to believe it would happen shortly, but they could not look 2000 years ahead and see us. But God could. Good thing!
(6). Repent, be baptized, saved, and receive the Holy Spirit.
This is a great sermon outline for beginners, both preachers who are starting out, and for an untrained audience.
Once again Peter was a “Bible guy.” He knew Messianic Bible prophecies. We should too, because we can learn more about God and improve our witness. Here is a table of them:
Peter is the first in the church to use resurrection apologetics (defense of the faith by pointing to the resurrection). He has to eliminate David from the fulfillment of Scripture in Ps. 110:1. He’s not the one who was resurrected. Look! His tomb is close by, and he’s still in it! Can anyone show us Jesus’s body still in his tomb? No. Therefore, Ps. 110:1 is about Jesus, not David.
“boldly say”: it comes from the noun parrēsia (pronounced pah-rray-see-ah), and it means boldness, outspokenness, frankness, plainness of speech, courage, confidence, fearlessness. Please, please don’t back down or get discouraged when you confront opposition. In fact, if you don’t encounter opposition in preaching the gospel, then something is missing from your gospel. You will know when you have the Spirit’s power flowing through you when you are bold. If you get easily intimidated, pray each day for the inner strength and power and anointing to stand and not to fold or flag during satanic or broken human attacks. I pray this almost every day, and it works! God did not make you timid (2 Tim. 1:7).
See the previous section for the basics about NT resurrection.
“Hades”: see v. 27 for more comments.
On the location of David’s tomb:
The site of David’s tomb mentioned in v. 29 is no longer certain but was probably on the south side of the southeast hill of Jerusalem near the pool of Siloam. Josephus said that John Hyrcanus looted the tomb of 3,000 talents of silver during the siege of Jerusalem in 135/134 B.C. and that Herod attempted the same. According to Josephus, Herod’s attempt was thwarted when two of his men were killed by a sudden burst of flame upon entering the tomb. Having second thoughts, Herod abandoned the project and built a white marble portico over the tomb. (Polhill, comment on v. 29)
Wherever it was, the Jerusalemites knew where it was, so Peter’s point was strong.
Jesus is the one who baptizes in the Spirit. He’s the Spirit Baptizer. He received the promise of the Spirit from his Father, and the Son is now the one who pours him out. Jesus received the promise of the Spirit from the Father, and Jesus poured him out. The three persons of the Trinity are in the same few verses.
“promise”: it is the noun epanggelia (pronounced eh-pahn-geh-lee-ah), and it is used 52 times in the NT (and our word angel¸ meaning ‘messenger,’ is in it).
Let’s study this word more closely.
It primarily means that promises made to the patriarchs recorded in the OT are now fulfilled in Yeshua ha-Meshiach or Jesus the Messiah (here and Acts 7:17). Abraham would have many descendants (Gal. 3:14-29). David received the promise of a special descendant fulfilled in Jesus (Acts 13:22-23). Paul goes on to say the Jesus’s resurrection is proof of the good news that he preaches (Acts 13:32-33). John proclaims that the promise is connected to eternal life—which is begun to be lived down here and then never ending in heaven (1 John 2:25). All the promises in the OT are ‘yes’ and ‘amen’ in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20).
Another use of promise is the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 24:49, Jesus tells the disciples that he is sending the “promise of the Father” to them (Acts 1:4). And it is fulfilled in Acts 2:1-4, where the Holy Spirit descends on the 120 in the upper room. Peter tells his audience that this is the promise of the Father (Acts 2:33). Paul links the promise of the Holy Spirit to the blessing of Abraham (Gal. 3:14). And believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit of the promise (Eph. 1:13).
Still another use of the word promise is that it forms the foundation of righteous living. Paul appeals for purity on God’s promises (2 Cor. 7:1). Children are told to honor their parents because the Fifth Commandment has a promise in it (Eph. 6:2; Exod. 20:12). Paul writes to Timothy that godliness is profitable both in this life and the next because of the promise of life (1 Tim. 4:8). The author of Hebrews encourages believers to persevere (hang in there) because of God’s promises (Heb. 4:1; 10:36). Don’t doubt, Peter says, that God will keep his promise of the second coming, even though some mock (2 Pet. 3:4, 9) (Mounce, pp. 541-42).
There is a growing movement today, usually online, to treat Scripture as second-class. “Don’t proof-text! Don’t use it to smack down my lifestyle! That’s unloving!” But here Peter uses Scripture to support the resurrection of Jesus. I urge the church everywhere to drench their minds in the Scriptures and use it—not to angrily bludgeon people—but to guide them to the truth, even unpleasant truth.
Often prophecy makes the best sense after it has been fulfilled. This is true of Peter’s quotation of Joel.
To sit at God’s righthand means, as Bock explains:
The implication of this text is great, because for most in Judaism no person is able to sit permanently in God’s presence. God’s glory and person are too unique to allow this. [Bock refers to two intertestamental writings that may allow it] … The observation that Jesus has gone to God’s side, although it is expresses figuratively since God does not have a limited location or a right hand, led to high Christology, since it raises the question of who can sit in God’s presence. Who is holy enough to do so? This description of Jesus’s position suggests an intimate connection between Jesus and the Father and an equality between them. The vindication of Jesus is about more than he lives and other will be raised. It explains who Jesus is and how God showed him to be the Lord Christ. Here the title “Lord” has its fully, heavenly authority because of Jesus’s position.” (pp. 134-35)
This verse seems to imply that Jesus was not Lord and Messiah until after his resurrection: “God made him” so. However, his earthly ministry shows everywhere in the four Gospels that he knew he was Lord and Messiah. The resurrection made, i.e. confirmed, that truth once again. There is nothing wrong with repeating it to different audiences, in different ways.
Peterson agrees: “Peter’s sermon highlights the way in which this became known, as Jesus was progressively attested by God through ‘miracles, wonders, and signs’ (v. 23) and then climatically, through the resurrection (v. 24). Since he is Messiah, Jesus is raised from death and exalted to God’s right hand! However, just as there are several important stages in the life of a king, from birth to heir to the throne, to anointing, to actual assumption of his throne, so it is with Jesus in Luke-Acts” (comment on v. 36).
Schnabel also agrees: It does not mean that Jesus was not the Messiah and Lord before his resurrection and exaltation. The force of the statement refers to the contrasting attitude between those who rejected him and God who vindicated his own Son. By raising him from the dead and exalting him, God made Jesus to be Lord and Messiah, in the face of those who rejected him (Schnabel, comment on v. 36, p. 151). Let’s not overinterpret the verb “made.”
“Whom you crucified”: To the Jerusalem pilgrims and the residents of that city these were unpleasant words and arguments. Peter went right to the heart of the listeners. Recall that in v. 23, above, Peter says that you put him to death. That’s heavy. Did you ever hear convicting words and Scriptures?
“know”: the verb is ginōskō (pronounced gee-noh-skoh, and the “g” is hard, as in “get”). The verb is so common that it is used 222 times in the NT. (Its cognate epiginōskō, pronounced eh-pea-gee-noh-skoh is used 44 times). Please click on this link for a fuller definition:
GrowApp for Acts 2:13-36
A.. He who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (v. 21). When did you call on his name with saving faith? What happened to you?
B.. Study 1 Cor. 15:3-8. How important is the resurrection for history and for your life?
The People of Jerusalem Respond (Acts 2:37-41)
37 When they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do men, brothers?” 38 Peter replied to them, “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your descendants and all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to himself.”
40 With many other reasoned arguments he powerfully warned and pleaded with them: “Be saved from this twisted generation!”
41 And so those receiving his argument were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were being added.
“cut”: it comes from the verb katanussomai (pronounced kah-tah-noos-soh-my). It combines the verb nussō (pronounced noos-soh), which means “to touch with a sharp point, to prick, spur, pierce.” It can even mean “nudge” someone. With the prefix kata-, however, it cannot mean nudge. It has the stronger meanings.
“the other apostles”: it is good to read that the other apostles were standing there. They must have been quite a sight. It is good to stand in unity. Did they connect that number twelve related to the twelve tribes? Did the people know that the twelve would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes (Matt. 19:28)? No one could know that the twelve foundation stones of the New Jerusalem would bear their names until John got this revelation (Rev. 21:14) or unless Jesus had told them privately and unrecorded.
“repent”: it is the verb metanoeō (pronounced meh-tah-noh-eh-oh), and “to repent” literally means “changed mind.” And it goes deeper than mental assent or agreement. Another word for repent is the Greek stem streph– (including the prefixes ana-, epi-, and hupo-), which means physically “to turn” (see Luke 2:20, 43, 45). That reality-concept is all about new life. One turns around 180 degrees, going from the direction of death to the new direction of life.
See my post:
“Baptized in the name of Jesus Christ”: some Pentecostal pastors claim this verse to believe in Jesus alone, and the Father and Spirit are some sort of manifestation of him. So they should be baptized only in Jesus’s name. Error. Rather, he is simply highlighting Jesus’s vindication in the face of his Jewish persecutors. IYou put him to death in your ignorance, when you thought you were doing God a favor? Well, God raised him from the dead. Now be baptized in his name!
In Israel at time, in and around Jerusalem, baths dotted the landscape, where people washed. No doubt the new converts were baptized there, immediately. They were baptizing extra-devout Jews, many of whom were pilgrims. They already knew about Elohim and YHWH (whom they reverently called the Name). Would Peter have said, “Be baptized in the name of Elohim!”? Or baptized in the Name!”? They already knew that. Instead, Peter preached boldly the name of Jesus, the “new sheriff” in town, the new path of salvation. Other baptisms in the name of the God of Israel, as they understood the term, were inadequate. Now believers must confess the name of Jesus publicly. No doubt they did this, as they were being baptized (Bock, p. 143).
Let’s look at other situations of people being baptized in the name of Jesus.
Acts 8:12-16 says that the Samaritans believed Philip’s preaching the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus, and they were baptized simply (or only) “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The reason for their being baptized in this name only? They too were in the confines of Israel, and they already knew about Elohim or YHWH (or the Name, as they reverently substituted it for the divine name). Philip was emboldened to proclaim the name of Jesus, the new Savior, the new and fuller revelation about God and the way of salvation. They were to be baptized in his name, and not merely the name of Elohim or the Name. Then they were immersed or baptized in the Spirit.
Acts 10:48 says that Peter ordered God-fearing Gentile Cornelius and his household to be baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Peter says nothing about Elohim or the Name. Cornelius already knew about his God. Instead, Peter had to drive home the point that Jesus was the only and new way of salvation.
Acts 19:1-5 teaches us that Ephesian disciples had been baptized by John presumably in the name of Elohim or the Name or the God of Judaism. Paul saw this as incomplete. There was a new Savior, the Messiah, and his name is Jesus. These disciples had to be baptized “in name of the Lord Jesus.”
Here are passages in which people were baptized, but not mentioning any name, but they probably were baptized in the name of Jesus.
Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:38)
Saul (Acts 9:18)
Lydia and her household and friends (Acts 16:15)
Philippian jailer and his household (Acts 16:33)
Crispus the synagogue leader, his household, and many Corinthians (Acts 18:8)
Crispus the synagogue leader, his household, and many Corinthians (Acts 18:8)
So what is the point? We must not make a massive doctrine out of being baptized in the name of Jesus only. These people were not going to be baptized in the name of Elohim or the Name (YHWH) or certainly not in the name of a pagan deity. Jesus was the newest, only and fuller Savior. Salvation was through him alone. The “Jesus only” believers today are shortsighted because they fail to understand the cultural contexts.
“name”: for this noun, see v. 21 for a closer look.
“for”: it could be translated as “with respect to” or “with reference to.” Repentance first. Water baptism second. Salvation goes beyond initial justification or initially being declared righteous. It involves one’s whole life. And being water-baptized for the forgiveness of sins means that water symbolically washes away one’s sins.
See my post about water baptism:
“forgiveness”: it comes from the Greek noun aphesis (pronounced ah-feh-seess), which means “release” or “cancellation” or “pardon” or “forgiveness.” Let’s look at a more formal definition of its verb, which is aphiēmi (pronounced ah-fee-ay-mee), and BDAG defines it with the basic meaning of letting go: (1) “dismiss or release someone or something from a place or one’s presence, let go, send away”; (2) “to release from legal or moral obligations or consequence, cancel, remit, pardon”; (3) “to move away with implication of causing a separation, leave, depart”; (4) “to leave something continue or remain in its place … let someone have something” (Matt. 4:20; 5:24; 22:22; Mark 1:18; Luke 10:30; John 14:18); (5) “leave it to someone to do something, let, let go, allow, tolerate.” The Shorter Lexicon adds “forgive.” In sum, God lets go, dismisses, releases, sends away, cancels, pardons, and forgives our sins. His work is full and final. Don’t go backwards or dwell on it.
Please read these verses for how forgiving God is:
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Ps. 103:10-12, ESV)
And these great verses are from Micah:
18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea. (Mic. 7:18-19, ESV)
Please see my post about forgiveness:
“sins”: it comes from the Greek word hamartia. A deep study reveals that it means a “departure from either human or divine standards of uprightness” (BDAG, p. 50). It can also mean a “destructive evil power” (ibid., p. 51). In other words, sin has a life of its own. Be careful! In the older Greek of the classical world, it originally meant to “miss the mark” or target. Sin destroys, and that’s why God hates it, and so should we. The good news: God promises us forgiveness when we repent.
“receive”: it comes from the Greek verb lambanō (pronounced lahm-bah-noh), and its basic meaning is indeed to take or receive, but it has an active ingredient. You got to reach out for it.
“the free gift of the Holy Spirit”: “Free gift” comes from the Greek dōrea (pronounced doh-reh-ah, and the name “Dorothy” comes from it). It means “free gift” and “bounty” and is used of the Holy Spirit in Acts 8:20; 10:45; 11:17 (see John 4:10, where the Gift of God, the “living water,” is the Holy Spirit (see John 7:37-39).
Spirit-inspired languages and the sound of the rushing, mighty wind woke up the Jewish pilgrims to the new era. The fact that the text does not describe the listeners receiving the Holy Spirit does not mean they did not. And the fact that the text does not describe the listeners getting a spiritual language does not mean they did not. Non-Charismatic Richard Longenecker: “In a Jewish context, however, it would not have been surprising if both occurred; in fact, one is probably justified in being surprised had they not occurred” (p. 284). That’s a roundabout way of saying they happened—Receiving the Spirit and Spirit-inspired languages. The atmosphere was charged with the electricity of the supernatural. It was the first outpouring, after all (Acts 2:1-4).
Recall that the Corinthians received the gospel and were baptized, but they are not recorded as receiving their prayer languages (Acts 18:1-11), but we know they loved to pray and praise in the Spirit (1 Cor. 12-13). Once again, Luke the “Omitter” or the “Condenser”
What about baptism for the forgiveness of sins? Is water the sacrament that provides forgiveness? I like what Longenecker says about the linkage between water and forgiveness:
But it runs contrary to all biblical religion to assume that outward rites have any value apart from true repentance and an inward change. The Jewish mind could not divorce inward spirituality from its outward expression. And wherever the Christian gospel was proclaimed in a Jewish Milieu, the rite of baptism was taken for granted as being inevitably involved (cf. 2:41; 8:12, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 18:8; 19:5; see Heb. 10:22; 1 Pe 3:18-21). But Peter’s sermon is Solomon’s Colonnade (3:12-26) stresses only repentance and turning to God “so that your sins may be wiped out” (v. 19) and makes no mention of baptism. This shows that for Luke, and probably also for Peter, while baptism with water was the expected symbol for conversion, it was not the indispensable criterion for salvation. (comment on v. 38)
The charismatic side of Peter’s preaching is that the Holy Spirit is for everyone, both geographically and generationally far off—you and me.
“the promise”: is the promise of the Father simple Spirit-conversion or Spirit-baptism? See v. 33 and Acts 1:4-5 for a longer discussion, but the conclusion is that the promise of the Father is the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is often distinct from Spirit-conversion. (Sometimes they can happen at the same time as in Acts 10:44-45.) Spirit-baptism with fulness and power and prayer languages are available to all who are far off from Pentecost in the first century—to you and me.
“to himself”: “call” is in the middle voice, which means that an action is done for oneself or benefit. God call people to himself.
“three thousand”: this was a distinct minority of the entire crowds in and around Jerusalem. However, it is not knowable with the information available to us how many were actually in the immediate vicinity listening and how many of them out of this smaller crowd converted. Three thousand for this time and at this place is a solid result. This is revival.
“with many other”: this shows that Luke is deliberately summarizing Peter’s speeches and other speeches in Acts. (HT: Polhill, comment on vv. 40-41 and Peterson, comment on v. 40).
“reasoned arguments”: The Greek noun logos can be translated merely as “word,” but in this context it is clearly a “reasoned argument” (or plural logoi, reasoned arguments). Peter is presenting a Scripture-based and evidence-based (the resurrection of Jesus, which Peter saw) argument. Peter is a “word guy.”
Let’s explore the noun more deeply, as I have done throughout this commentary. It is rich and full of meaning. It always has built into it rationality and reason. It has spawned all sorts of English words that end in –log-, like theology or biology, or have the log– stem in them, like logic.
I will repeat these comments throughout the entire commentary. Though certain Renewalists may not like to hear it, there is a rational side to the Word of God, and a moment’s thought proves it. The words you’re reading right now are placed in meaningful and logical and rational order. The Bible is also written in that way. If it weren’t, then it would be nonsense and confusing, and we couldn’t understand the gibberish. (Even your prophecies have to make logical and rational sense on some level.) Your Bible studies and Sunday morning sermons have to, also. Paul’s brief speech to the Gentiles, below, also has Bible-based logic and rational argumentation built into it. People need to be ministered to in this way. God gave us minds and brains and expects us to use them. Your preaching cannot always be flashy and shrieky and so outlandishly entertaining that people are not fed in the long term. Movements like that don’t last over the years without the Word. I have observed this from firsthand experience in certain sectors of the Renewal Movement.
People have the deepest need to receive solid teaching. Never become so outlandishly supernatural and entertaining that you neglect the reasonable and rational side of preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible. Yes, the book of Acts is very charismatic, but it is also very orderly and rational and logical.
On the other side of the word Word, people get so intellectual that they build up an exclusive Christian caste of intelligentsia that believe they alone can teach and understand the Word. Not true. Just study Scripture with Bible helps and walk in the Spirit, as they did in Acts. Combining Word and Spirit is the balanced life.
“powerfully warned”: the verb is diamarturomai (pronounced dee-ah-mahr-too-roh-my), and it can also mean “bear witness to” or “testify.” In these contexts it always means witnessing or testifying through the power of the Spirit.
“saved”: see comments on v. 47.
“pleaded”: It is the verb parakaleō (pronounced pah-rah-kah-leh-oh). It is related to the Greek noun paraklēsis (pronounced pah-rah-klay-sees). The Greek in the Gospel of John is paraklētos (pronounced pah-rah-klay-tohss) (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:6). The three related words can mean the following things, depending on the context—or they can mean all of them at the same time. What do you need from the Spirit? Here are some options: “counselor / counsel,” “advocate (defense attorney),” “helper / help,” “comforter / comfort,” “encourager / encouragement,” and “intercessor / intercession.”
“twisted”: it comes from the Greek adjective skolios, where we get our word scoliosis. Even back then, it was a morally twisted generation. How much more is it today!
I really like Schnabel here:
We Christians dare not minimize the transforming power and reality of the Spirit, and we dare not minimize the fact that we still live in a fallen world in which trials, sickness, sin, and death are still realities. However, the fact that Jesus has inaugurated the last days means that the Spirit has indeed arrived. The entire messianic era—from Jesus’s coming in Bethlehem to Jesus’ return at the end of time—is the age of the Spirit, which is the age of “the last days.” Followers of Jesus no longer wait for the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, and the no longer wait for the Holy Spirit—he has come on Pentecost, and he is bestowed on everyone at the moment when he or she acknowledges Jesus as Messianic Lord and Savior. (p. 153)
GrowApp for Acts 2:37-41
A.. Peter proclaimed that everyone should repent and be baptized. Have you done this? How? In which circumstances? What happened?
B.. Peter said the promised Holy Spirit is for everyone afar off, both geographically and chronologically (v. 39). Has the Spirit come into your life? What happened when he did?
Church Unity and Prayer (Acts 2:42-47)
42 They were devoted to the teaching of the apostles and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 There was great awe in every soul. Many wonders and signs were happening through the apostles. 44 And all the believers were gathering together at that place and were sharing everything in common. 45 They were selling their property and possessions and were distributing them all, as anyone might have need. 46 Each day they were devoted in unity and purpose in the temple precinct, breaking bread by household, taking their meals with gladness and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor before all the people. And each day the Lord was adding in that place those who were being saved.
This is the first of a summary section that talks of signs and wonders (Acts 4:32-35; 5:12-16) The whole atmosphere is charged with the Holy Spirit, and signs and wonders happened. Have we declined at all today?
I translated this section very literally. A series of verbs in the imperfect tense indicates continuous past action: were selling, were persistently devoted, were happening, there was, were gathering, were sharing, were distributing, was having need, was adding, were being saved (daily adding new people). “Imperfect tense” means action that is not completed or ended. It is process and progress, not instant growth and change. No wonder why Renewalists believe the book of Acts is not completed.
Schnabel (p. 175) spots five themes in this short passage and other summary passages:
Historical: Luke reports the goings on in the early Jerusalem church.
Literary: Luke uses them to indicate the passage of time.
Theological: The presence and power of God are continual; miracles happen. Lives of the believers are being transformed by them.
Ecclesiastical: This passage describes the characteristics of the communities of Jesus’s followers.
Missiological: This passage describes the grown and expansion of the church.
“argument”: It comes from the Greek word logos (pronounced la-goss or loh-gohss), which is very versatile. In this context it does not mean “verbal quarrel,” but an orderly and logical presentation of the facts based on eyewitness evidence, for proof of your personal convictions and belief. Recall that Luke wrote that Jesus showed himself alive by many “convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3). See v. 40 for a closer look at the noun.
This verse and 43 lay out the five elements of Spirit-filled Christian fellowship: (1) apostolic teaching (for us today that’s the Scriptures); (2) fellowship (it can happen only at church, even a big meeting, or in a small group); (3) breaking bread (sharing meals together and especially the Lord’s Supper); (4) prayer (much neglected in the church nowadays); signs and wonders (they are happening all over the world but have declined a bit in the Western world). We need each other to survive and thrive in our world today.
“persistently and consistently devoted”: The one Greek verb, proskartereō (pronounced praws-kar-teh-reh-oh or prohs-kar-teh-reh-oh) implies that meaning, because kartereō means to “persevere” and “endure” (Heb. 11:27), and the preposition pros has a directional meaning of “towards.” It’s as if they were looking towards or paying intense attention to “the teaching of the apostles and to fellowship and the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
“fellowship”: it comes from the Greek noun koinonia (pronounced koi-noh-nee-ah). “Close association involving mutual interests and sharing” (BDAG, p. 552, considered by many to be the authoritative lexicon of the Greek NT). Synonyms: association, communion, fellowship, close relationship. Another definition: attitude of good will that manifests an interest in a close relationship (ibid., 553). Synonyms: generosity, fellow-feeling, altruism; Also, a sign of fellowship, proof of brotherly unity, and sometimes even a gift, contribution; participation, sharing. Scriptures for your future study of the noun: Acts 2:42; Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 1:9; 10:16l 2 Cor. 6:14; 8:4; 9:13; 13:14; Gal. 2:9; Phil. 1:5; 2:1; 3:10; Phm. 6; Heb. 13:16; 1 John 1:3; 1:6, 1:7.
Their practice of fellowship was intense. They had larger meetings in the temple precincts. It was a mega-church by our standards. Then they also met in each other’s houses and shared food and their possessions. No doubt an apostle stopped by to encourage them and pray for the sick.
“Breaking bread” means more than just chowing down on food. It has clear references to remembering and honoring the sacrifice of Jesus. It was an agape feast, similar to the one described in 1 Cor. 11:27-34. But it was still a joyful feast, not a somber meal after a death and a funeral. Jesus was had been risen. Celebrate!
“prayer”: it is the very common noun proseuchē (pronounced pros-yew-khay) and is used 36 times. Its verb proseuchomai (pronounced pros-yew-khoh-my) appears 85 times, so they are the most common words for prayer or pray in the NT. They are combined with the preposition pros, which means, among other things, “towards,” and euchē, which means a prayer, vow and even a mere wish. But Christians took over the word and directed it towards the living God. I like to believe that they leaned in toward him and prayed their requests fully expecting an answer. It is not a mere wish or heartfelt payer to a pagan deity.
Prayer flows out of confidence before God that he will answer because we no longer have an uncondemned heart (1 John 3:19-24; Rom. 8:1); and we know him so intimately that we find out from him what his will is and then we pray according to it (1 John 5:14-15); we pray with our Spirit-inspired languages and our native languages (1 Cor. 14:15-16). But that’s what all believers should do; however, too often theory outruns practice. Pray! For a theology on how to respond when God does not answer our prayers, as when James was executed by Herod, see Acts 12 and the very last Observations for Discipleship section.
Prayer can be (1) for oneself, like overcoming sins and vices in your heart and mind or receiving wisdom from above (James 3:17) and not being double-minded about receiving it (Jas. 1:5-8), but (2) it is also for the needs of the community. It was coming under attack, so prayers were offered. Praying for boldness to reach out and spread the word is wonderful. We should do it more often. (3) Further, prayer brings down the manifest presence of God. God is omnipresent (everywhere) of course, but his presence can make itself felt and experienced. God showed up and shook the place where they were gathered.
Prayer can be visualized like a pebble in a pond, and the ripples go outward. (1) It starts with oneself and one’s needs; (2) then it goes outward to one’s own family and (3) to the Christian community (your home church). (4) It goes out to evangelism and the needs of the community, (5) and finally to parts around the globe. But this prayer here in Acts varies the order, which you may do, if you like. Prayer is ultimately and most deeply a conversation with God.
“breaking of bread”: indicates ordinary meals which believers regularly shared, but during the meals they remembered Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross and the forgiveness of sins. Verses 46-47 indicates these meals took place in private homes and the temple precincts (Schnabel, p. 179).
Signs and wonders happening right before one’s eyes is awe-inspiring. They inspired everyone, not just believers. Renewalists believe they still happen today.
For a discussion of “wonders and signs” in v. 43, see above, at v. 22. For a nearly complete list of miracles, signs and wonders in the New Testament and a theology of them, see the post:
Longenecker points out that the verb “was done” is in the imperfect tense, which “denotes that such awe and miracles were no momentary phenomena but continued to be features associated with the church during those early days” (comment on v. 43). Let’s hope that these same miracles are no momentary phenomena today, either.
“soul”: it is the noun psuchē (or psychē), (pronounced psoo-khay, the p in ps is pronounced) which is usually translated as “soul.” In this context it can also mean “person” or “everyone,” but I translated it expansively. Your mind is helped when it is filled with awe of teaching (or the Word), fellowship, sharing meals, and seeing signs and wonders.
“awe”: It is the Greek noun phobos (pronounced foh-bohss). The NT authors like this word, using the verb and noun and adjectives (and emphobos, pronounced as it looks) 151 times. It has a wide range of meanings, depending on the context. When the church “fears” the Lord, it does not cower in fear and dreads and runs away, but they are supposed to feel a reverential awe, which speaks of being inspired by an atmosphere charged with the tangible or felt presence of the Holy Spirit. Awe and intimacy go together between us and the Creator of the universe.
“believers”: the verb is pisteuō (pronounced pea-stew-oh or pih-stew-oh), and it is a substantive verb. The verb is used 241 times. It means to “believe, be convinced of something.” In a more specific definition it goes in a direction: “to have faith in Christ or God” (Mounce p. 61). Believing (verb) and faith (noun) is very important to God. It is the language of heaven. We live on earth and by faith see the invisible world where God is. We must believe he exists; then we must exercise our faith to believe he loves us and intends to save us. We must have saving faith by trusting in Jesus and his finished work on the cross.
Forsaking All, I Trust Him
Let’s discuss the verb believe and the noun faith more deeply. It is the language of the kingdom of God. It is how God expects us to relate to him. It is the opposite of doubt, which is manifested in whining and complaining and fear. Instead, faith is, first, a gift that God has distributed to everyone (Rom. 12:3). Second, it is directional (Rom. 10:9-11; Acts 20:21). We cannot rightly have faith in faith. It must be faith in God through Christ. Third, faith in Christ is different from faith in one’s ability to follow God on one’s own. It is different from keeping hundreds of religious laws and rules. This is one of Luke’s main themes in Acts, culminating in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and Paul’s ministry for the rest of Acts. Faith in Jesus over faith in law keeping. Fourth, there is faith as a set of beliefs and doctrines, which are built on Scripture (Acts 6:7). Fifth, there is also a surge of faith that is poured out and transmitted through the Spirit when people need it most (1 Cor. 12:9). It is one of the nine charismata or manifestations of grace (1 Cor 12:7-11). Sixth, one can build faith and starve doubt by feasting on Scripture and the words about Christ (Rom. 10:17).
In this verse it refers to believers who are saved.
Please see my word study on believe and faith:
Schnabel insightfully points out the historical occasion of food distribution here in Acts 2 with Acts 6:1. Diaspora Jews, who only spoke Greek, may have returned to Jerusalem and then converted to the Jesus Movement but had no income after their husbands died. Add to that the persecution. Also, Agabus predicted the famine (11:28), which happened at the time of Claudius (AD 41-54). So needs arose throughout the early Christian community in Jerusalem (comment on v. 45). No wonder Paul felt compelled to take up an offering to help the Jerusalem believers—they were in the direst needs because of these factors (1 Cor. 16:3; 2 Cor. 1:16; 8:9).
“Sharing everything in common” was done in a small, voluntary society. (See Acts 5:4 for its voluntary nature.) It was not a top-down government imposition, like communism. If a small society wishes to join together freely and share everything freely, then that is their decision. (The old hippies from the 1970s used to do that up in Oregon; they were called “communes.” Even Christian communes emerged around the country.) But don’t expand this passage to encompass an entire nation and a massive government for everyone, one size fits all.
They sold their properties and possessions and distributed the proceeds. We will learn that Peter told Ananias that he was free to keep whatever portion he wanted, and all of the proceeds were at his disposal, No one forced him to sell anything (5:4). Private generosity is better than government compulsion.
“In the temple precincts” shows unity in a large gathering. Call it an open-air mega-church. Church is not limited to home fellowships.
“Singleness of heart and mind”: The Greek adverb is a compound, homothumadon (pronounced hoh-moh-thoo-mah-dohn). The first half is hom– and means “same,” and the second half is related to thumos, which means spirit and soul and heart, a lively spirit, much like a lion or hero in battle (in NT Greek it can even be translated as “wrath.”). It appears eleven times, and ten only in Acts (1:14; 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 7:57; 8:6; 12:20; 15:25; 18:12; 19:29), and once in Paul (Rom. 15:6). The application is clear. God wants us persistently devoted and attached to prayer in unity, in a group. He wants us together. There should be no Lone Rangers, with just Tonto. When we are united in our minds and spirits, great things will happen, as great as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-13. We are in this together (Matt. 18:19-20; Ps. 133:1).
“Gladness and generous hearts, praising God”: those wonderful human attributes and actions go together. The Spirit-filled atmosphere inspired them. It is difficult to be stingy (ungenerous), when we are praising God. And joy and generosity of heart are linked to praising God. It is impossible to praise God and remain discouraged (opposite of “glad”) for long.
“having favor of all the people” can also be translated “they had favor towards all the people.” In other words, the Jewish-Christian community showed the whole city favor. It’s a two-way street, though I believe all the translations are right: the whole people showed favor to the smaller Messianic-Jewish subculture. When people are unified, worshipful, generous of heart, and full of praise, sooner or later they enjoy favor from the larger town or city. Police departments tell us that when a church, like the one described here, moves into a neighborhood, the area improves morally. Human degradation and crime rates decline.
“favor”: It comes from the noun charis (pronounced khah-rees) and means “graciousness, attractiveness; favor, gracious care, help or goodwill, practical application of goodwill”; a “gracious deed or gift, benefaction.” In some contexts, it means “exceptional effects produced by divine grace,” in other words, empowerment to accomplish a task or receive a blessing.
Let’s go deeper, by repeating part of what I wrote in the post Do I Really Know God? He Is Gracious. Mounce in his Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words teaches us about the Hebrew and Greek words. The Hebrew noun ḥen (pronounced khen) “describes that which is favorable or gracious, especially the favorable disposition of one person to another” (p. 302). The Greek noun further means “the acceptance of and goodness toward those who cannot earn or do not deserve such gain” (p. 303). The verb in Hebrew is ḥanan (pronounced khah-nan) and means “to show mercy, favor, be gracious” (ibid.).
Here is a quick definition. God’s grace means he gladly shows his unmerited goodness or love to those who have forfeited it and are by nature under a sentence of condemnation.
Good news! We do not have to suffer condemnation for our past sins because God hands us his grace.
Here it means, as noted, favor before all the people.
“Those who were being saved”: it is the Greek verb sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh). See v. 21 for more comments. It is in the passive voice, which can often mean that God is behind the scenes acting and saving people. This is called the divine passive.
“in that place”: it is an idiom that can mean “in that place” or “together.” It could be translated expansively as “community.”
So far, and throughout Acts, particularly Chapters 1-15, Jesus is presented in these themes:
Jesus is Israel’s Messiah and Lord (Lord: 2:21, 34, 36:10:36. Messiah: 2:31, 36, 38; 3:18, 20; 4:10; 10:36).
He is the Son of David and God’s Servant (Son of David: 2:29-31; Servant of God (3:13, 26; 4:27, 30).
He is the holy and righteous Savior (5:31; 3:14; 4:27, 30).
He is the prophet like Moses and the judge of humankind (3:22; 10:42).
In Jesus God requires repentance to receive God’s revelation in the life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus and in the bestowal of the Spirit and prophecy (2:38, 40; 3:19; 5:31 see 8:22; 10:42-43; 15:8).
Only in allegiance to Jesus, God offers salvation who is Israel’s Messiah and Lord (Acts 2:21, 39; 3:19, 26; 5:31; 10:43-45, 36, 43, 45; 11:18; 15:9; 22:16; 26:18).
GrowApp for Acts 2:42-47
A.. The earliest Christian community were united in prayer and sharing and breaking bread together. Without being judgmental, do you belong to a thriving church? How can you help to make it like that?
Observations for Discipleship
Acts 2:1-4 can happen to us, either exactly in the same way or in modified form, tailor made for us. The point: Spirit-immersion-baptism is for us too.
The gift of Spirit-inspired languages is available to all who want it. But no one has to have it imposed on them. And it is certainly not a requirement for salvation to get into heaven. One may not have to receive this gift, but one gets to have it—privilege from God. It is wise to receive any gift from God—to take all that he offers us. But if people refuse it, they must not criticize and sneer at those who received it with child-like faith and joy. 1 Cor. 14:39 says not to forbid speaking in Spirit-inspired languages.
The Spirit leads people to Christ and causes new birth in them, but Spirit-baptism-immersion-empowerment leads people out of the church to minister and reach out (Luke 24:48-49; Acts 1:8). Spirit-inspired languages simply prepares the heart of the one praying and the ones receiving ministry. It is the perfect prayer, since it is the Spirit who prays.
The Spirit launches you out. Picture it this way.
Imagine that you are in a big international airport. You have two ways to get to your next flight. You can take the conveyer belt or walk next to it. You sensibly choose the conveyer belt, and you even walk on it while it is moving forward. The belt and motor driving it empowers, carries, and propels you forward. This is like Spirit baptism-immersion and Spirit-inspired language Not the same thing, though often connected. Others who chose to walk without the conveyer belt are moving forward, because they have been born again, but you enjoy faster progress because you have been baptized-immersed with power in the Spirit.
If you got your prayer language, use it! You will be propelled forward in your walk with God and service! If a sin or habit keeps holding on, then regularly using your Spirit-inspired language will make it wither away because your spirit is built up and your Spirit-inspired prayers work its way to your flesh and withers away besetting sins.
On the charismatic side, the Spirit is the free gift from God through Christ. He produces gladness, generous hearts and praise, awe in the mind. Evangelism happens naturally-supernaturally when the atmosphere is charged with the electricity of the Spirit, so to speak.
Signs and wonders still happen today. Millions of cases have happened over the decades, after the outpouring of the Spirit in the early twentieth century, and before. The book of Acts has not closed in that sense.
Also, don’t be afraid of reasoned argument in sharing your faith. Sometimes a certain percentage of people need to hear the gospel from your sound mind, which clears away the debris field. The most effective topic of apologetics (defense of the faith) is the resurrection of Jesus. Learn about what happened at the empty tombs. Then you can share what your risen Lord did in your heart, how he changed it and your life.
In everything you do, unity and love and sharing things in common also is a big draw. And they will know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35).
You can receive the gifts of dreams, visions and prophecies, through the Spirit. Just focus on Jesus, if you get them. They should edify, not tear down or cause you to obsess over them.
You individually can enjoy divine favor from people. Just stay in fellowship, the teaching of the apostles (now called Scriptures), and regular church attendance. If the word church is no longer popular, stay in a local Christian community (same thing!). People outside of Christ can perceive something different about you, something positive. Jesus radiates outwardly from you to them, and they will show you favor.
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2007.
Bruce, F. F. Acts. Rev. ed. Eerdmans, 1988. (I also used his earlier work Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Commentary, Eerdmans, 1951, 1952, 1990, 3rd ed.).
The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger. United Bible Society, 2014.
Keener, Craig, S. Acts. New Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge UP, 2020.
Longenecker, Richard N. Acts. Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Zondervan, 2007.
Marshall, I. Howard. Acts. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Tyndale, 1980.
Parsons, Mikeal C. and Martin M. Culy. Acts. A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor, UP, 2003.
Peterson, David G. The Acts of the Apostles. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Eerdmans, 2009.
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