37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call."

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41 Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  Version: New International (British) Version

COMMENTS

General:

  • Peter's sermon (vv.14-36) convinced the people of God's hand in Jesus' earthly ministry, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and outpouring of the Spirit. The people now respond (vv.37ff).
    • Deeply moved by the realization of their guilt in the execution of the Messiah, the crowd asks what they should do (v.37).
      • Peter tells those who believe his message that they must repent and be immersed. There is nothing they're doing to earn salvation; rather, it is only in the name of Jesus that they are extended forgiveness and the Spirit (v.38).
      • The promise (v.39) is for the next generation as well as for the Gentiles (those who are "far off").
    • Peter continues to exhort them to be saved from their corrupt generation, which will lead them away from God (v.40).
      • Thousands are baptized (v.41).
        • As is normal in the Bible (e.g. Exodus 12:37; Matthew 14:21; Acts 4:4), this round number includes adult males only.
        • There is only one other passage in the N.T. where a rough count of church "membership" is provided: Acts 4:4. Though the vibrant church was growing, there was no obsession with numbers.
      • And so is created the nucleus of the new Christian community, the church.
  • The members of the church live out their faith (vv.42-47).
    • They are devoted to the apostles' teaching, who have themselves been instructed by Jesus in all that the Christians need to know.
    • They are devoted to one another.
    • They are devoted to the Lord's Supper. In the early church this dinner was observed weekly (if not more often).
    • They are devoted to prayer.
    • There is a general sense of awe, especially as miracles are performed (though only by the apostles).
    • There was a generosity of spirit, evidenced in sharing with the needy. In addition, their joy and sincerity were obvious to all.
    • The church continues to grow (v.47; see 4:4; 9:31; 16:5; 21:20; etc).

Advanced:

  • For some linguistic insight into the imperative verb (v.38), click repent.
  • Some readers, dabbling in Greek and unwilling to accept the clear implications of v.38, argue that eis (v.38) does not mean for [the forgiveness of sins]. Click here to see why this is not possible. For the history of this odd view, click here.
  • Learn about the origins of the most common teaching about salvation among evangelicals, the Sinner's Prayer.
  • Against those who claim that Acts 2 and Acts 4 show that the early church was socialistic, here is my response. The big difference between socialism / communism and what I believe the Bible teaches is that what the Bible teaches is totally voluntary and emanates from within, while socialism / communism must be imposed from without. Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:42-35 are a good display of the former.

Thought questions:

  • Have I repented and been baptized? (Was my conversion to Christ biblical?)
  • Do I understand that church is Jesus' idea (Matthew 16:18 etc), that it was started by the Holy Spirit, and is a vital part of God's plan for my spiritual growth?
  • Am I doing all I can to make the church what I see in Acts 2:42ff?

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