Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 10th, 2023
the Second Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 2

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Verse 1

The Day of Pentecost

The believers still come together in the upper room. Then comes the day of Pentecost. On that day they receive an answer to their prayers, praying among other things for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). Luke says of this day that it “had come”. This day of Pentecost is foretold in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:15-Ecclesiastes :). It was one of the “feasts of the LORD”. The feast of Pentecost took place fifty days after the feast of the first fruits (Leviticus 23:9-2 Chronicles :). The sheaf of the first fruits speaks of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He is the first fruits of those who are asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20).

At the feast of Pentecost a ‘new grain offering’ of two loaves of bread was brought. Those two loaves of bread symbolize Jew and Gentile who have been baptized into a unity by the coming of the Holy Spirit. Just as we see that what the Passover represented was fulfilled in the death of Christ, so we see that what the Feast of Pentecost represented was fulfilled in the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps during the time that the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they spoke to each other about Leviticus 23. On this day of the fulfillment of the promise, they are all gathered together. They are together because they have a common interest that they want to share with each other. It is a special privilege, characteristic of the church, to come together to share the common faith in the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:20; 1 Corinthians 14:26).

Verses 2-4

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit did not come in a visible, human form like the Lord Jesus. He could have come unseen and unnoticed, but God wanted His coming to be noticed and He used visible, outward signs to do so. From heaven, that is, from God, comes a noise like a violent rushing wind.

The wind is heard, not felt. The noticing of the coming of the Holy Spirit is not based on emotion, but on perception. Something is heard (Acts 2:2), something is seen (Acts 2:3) and there is a result (Acts 2:4). The whole house is filled. We can well imagine that all who are present in the house are immersed, baptized, with the Holy Spirit.

In filling the whole house (Acts 2:2) we see a picture of the truth that the Holy Spirit dwells in the church as a whole (1 Corinthians 3:16). In Acts 2:3 He comes to each of them in a phenomenon that resembles tongues of fire. In it we see a picture of the truth that the Holy Spirit also dwells in each individual believer (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The coming of the Holy Spirit into the church to take up His residence and live in it is a one-time event. It takes place here. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a one-time event, just as the work of Christ on Calvary is a one-time event. The entering of the Holy Spirit into the individual believer, i.e. entering the body of the believer as a dwelling place, happens at the moment that someone believes the gospel of his salvation (Ephesians 1:13). So this is something that happens just as often as people come to repentance and faith.

After noticing the noise of the coming of the Spirit with the ears, something is perceived with the eyes. Those present see tongues of fire that divide and settle upon each of them. Here the baptism with the Holy Spirit takes place, to which reference is made in 1 Corinthians 12 (1 Corinthians 12:13). This is not baptism with fire. That is for the unbelievers. When John addresses a group of believers and unbelievers, he mentions both baptisms (Matthew 3:11-2 Kings :; Luke 3:16-Esther :).

The tongues that are placed on each of them are tongues “as of fire”. So it is not fire, but it does remind us of it. The fire represents judgment. Although it is not a baptism of fire, which means judgment, this baptism of the Spirit with which believers are baptized in a certain sense has to do with judgment. Indeed, it indicates that the coming of the Holy Spirit is the judgment of the flesh. Where the Holy Spirit comes, the flesh is no longer allowed to assert itself and must be kept in death. The tongues point to our speaking, our expressions. If the Holy Spirit dwells in us, it must be reflected in our whole behavior.

Fulfillment with the Spirit must be distinguished from the outpouring or baptism with the Holy Spirit. If someone is filled with the Spirit, it means that he comes under the power of the Spirit in order to fulfill a particular service. Thus, fulfillment with the Spirit can happen several times. As already mentioned, baptism with the Holy Spirit is a one-time event at the birth of the church, just as receiving the Holy Spirit is a one-time event that takes place in someone who repents.

N.B. “Fulfillment with the Holy Spirit” still occurs in the New Testament in Luke 1:15; Luke 1:41Luke 1:67; Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9. ‘Full of the Spirit’ indicates a permanent being filled with the Holy Spirit. We see this in the Lord Jesus (Luke 4:1) and in Stephen and Barnabas (Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5Acts 7:55; Acts 11:24).

Another accompanying and perceptible phenomenon is that they “speak with other tongues” or better: “speak in other languages”. The different languages are a consequence of sin and lead to division. The languages spoken by the Spirit remove the effects of sin. The believers thereby understand each other and they result in unity.

Here the judgment of the confusion of languages that God had exercised because of the building of the tower of Babel is removed (Genesis 11:1-1 Samuel :). There, the proud building of a human structure was ended by the judgment of the confusion of languages, while God here shows the beginning of His spiritual building. At Babel there was scattering, here is uniting.

One of the characteristics of a Spirit-filled believer is that he speaks about the Lord Jesus. This happens here in an abundant and special way. The believers speak in languages about the great deeds of God (Acts 2:11). For the Jew it was unthinkable that God could be spoken about in another language than Hebrew. That this happens here means that God no longer limits Himself in His proclamation to one people, but that the gospel is for the whole world.

Verses 5-13

Speaking in Other Languages

The wonder of the coming of the Holy Spirit is not limited to the upper room in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, there lived Jews from every nation under heaven. Because they are further referred to as “devout men”, they will have returned to the city of God out of their love for it. When this wonder is heard in the city, it attracts the crowds.

After all the turmoil of the trial against and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, everyone will have taken up the thread of daily life again. For fifty days nothing spectacular has happened. The claims of Jesus as Messiah were carried to the grave with Him, one must have thought. The soldiers have spread the lie about stealing His body (Matthew 28:12-Ezra :) and that lie will be widely believed. The service in the temple will have returned to its normal course.

Then suddenly this event takes place and later even the conversion of several thousands of people. Everyone in the crowd, consisting of all kinds of nationalities, hears speaking in their own language. This confuses them. There is no talk of the fiery tongues on the disciples. It seems that the crowd has not seen them. In any case, the amazement is great. The poor handful of illiterate disciples, recognized as coming from the backward Galilee, emerges from the obscurity and oblivion into the open and gives testimony with irresistible force in languages they have not learned.

In the crowd, people talk to each other about the fact that everyone hears them speaking in the language in which they were born. Luke lists the peoples where these Jews came from. It gives an impression of the vastness of the scattering. But the fact that God makes His greatness and majesty known to all these peoples in the language of their native land, the language with which they grew up, is an unprecedented victory of God’s grace. He had to scatter because of the unfaithfulness of His people. Now He is merging because of the greatness of His Son’s work.

The disciples speak these different languages and even dialects without having learned them. It is a wonder of speech and not a wonder of hearing. The disciples know how to express themselves perfectly with the right accent in the language of each country where emigrants have come from.

N.B. Twice before, there has been talk of speaking in a language without having learned it. Adam and Eve are the first to speak a language without having learned it. The second case is the confusion of languages that God gave on the occasion of the building of the tower of Babel.

Again (Acts 2:7; Acts 2:12) Luke tells what an enormous impression this event makes on the crowd. Every time he points out what it causes in the crowd. The coming of the Holy Spirit to earth is an event that does not take place in silence, but is accompanied by the necessary and appropriate display. Those who are impressed are those who have come from other countries and hear here the language of the country of their origin.

There are also “others” (Acts 2:13). They probably belong to the indigenous Jews who do not understand these languages. They do not show themselves to be devout, but mock what is happening. For them it is the language of the drunk.

Verses 14-15

Peter Begins His Speech

Peter, restored in communion with his Lord and with his fellow-brothers, can now take his stand and speak with boldness. Not only does Peter takes his stand, but also the eleven other apostles do with him. The eleven stand beside him to support his testimony in a way visible to all. He addressed the crowd as men of Judea and inhabitants of Jerusalem. His audience therefore consists of Jews. He also attunes his speech completely to this audience. He knows the thoughts and feelings of this audience through and through because he himself is a Jew. But through repentance and faith and the Holy Spirit Who dwells in him, he can give the right meaning to what the crowd has observed.

With the words “let this be known to you and give heed to my words”, he stimulates their interest and asks their undivided attention. In his speech, thus addressed to a group consisting only of Jewish listeners, Peter for the first time uses the keys given to him by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 16 (Matthew 16:19). He uses them to open up the kingdom of heaven to the Jews.

It becomes the first Christian speech, although addressed entirely to Jewish listeners and based on the Old Testament. The strength of his testimony is that he bases his speech on Scripture and facts. His listeners know Scripture. They also know the undeniable facts.

First Peter takes away the foolish assumption that they are drunk. He does so by a sober observation that it is still too early in the day to be drunk. He says what this new ‘movement’ is not: it’s not a drunken gang, not a passing case of emotional excitement. Then he starts a glowing speech in which he makes clear what this new movement is: it is something they can find in their own Scriptures.

Verses 16-21

The Prophecy of Joel

In order to explain what happened, Peter appeals to what was written by the prophet Joel about such an event. Joel has written about the outpouring of God’s Spirit “in the last days”. So did the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isaiah 32:15; Ezekiel 39:29). Isaiah and Ezekiel speak about it in connection with the last days and as a blessing for Israel. Joel also speaks about the last days, but as a blessing for “all mankind”. With this he goes beyond the borders of Israel. Peter knows, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to quote the correct Scripture word. He also knows where to stop his quotation.

It is important to pay attention that he quotes Joel 2 without saying that it is the fulfillment of this prophecy (Joel 2:28-Obadiah :). That was also not the case. He refers to Joel because what happens on Pentecost has the same character as what Joel announced. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was something reminiscent of what Joel had said. We could say that it was a pre-fulfillment of the prophecy, not the fulfillment itself. The fulfillment will take place after what Joel prophesied in the previous verses has been fulfilled. The words “after this” in Joel 2:28, shows that there is a chronological connection with the preceding verses.

The main purpose of Peter in quoting this verse from Joel is to make it clear to the Jews that this wonder that took place so suddenly in their midst is fully confirmed by what Joel said about the outpouring of the Spirit. But the outpouring that has now taken place is not the full accomplishment of the event announced by Joel. The Holy Spirit has come to earth and through this the church has come into being, which He will continue to form, as this book of Acts shows. That outpouring happened in order to form a people for heaven. For that purpose, the Spirit is still on earth. What Joel writes about will take place in the last days, the days of the future, when the enemies of Israel are defeated and the people themselves live in their land.

Furthermore, the expression “all mankind” is also important. This expression does not mean “all living men”, but indicates that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not an event limited to the Jews. That aspect of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days is also clearly present in what happens on Pentecost.

It was not that God enabled every new believer to speak the Jewish language, but He allowed His witnesses to speak the languages of their peasants who had been scattered among the Gentiles. This is a special testimony of the grace that goes out to the Gentiles. Believers from the Gentiles are not incorporated into the Jewish people, but as Gentiles they receive part in the blessing of the Holy Spirit. In a certain sense, this removes the judgment that God had brought to mankind in the confusion of languages. Language no longer forms a barrier.

According to Joel, the outpouring of the Spirit on all mankind results in prophecy. We also see this happening here through Peter. His speech has the effect of touching people’s hearts and making many people repent (Acts 2:37; Acts 2:41). This is precisely the purpose of prophecy, for prophecy means speaking from the presence of God to the hearts and consciences of men.

Regarding the outpouring of the Spirit on all mankind, there is another remarkable difference with the Old Testament. In the Old Testament the Spirit as a gift seems to be reserved only for leaders such as kings and prophets. That the whole people would prophesy, then remained a wish, once expressed by Moses (Numbers 11:29). But this wish of Moses became with Joel a promise of Yahweh for all members of His people: “YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY”, as well as His “BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN”. This will be the case for all who will enter the realm of peace.

This aspect of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is also present in the church on and since Pentecost. The Spirit has come upon all believers, without distinction of state or rank. In the same way, everyone who repents receives the Holy Spirit of promise, without distinction of gender, age (for God there is no generation gap) or social status.

Although Peter also quotes the miracles and signs that Joel mentions in connection with the coming of the Holy Spirit, they do not follow directly after the outpouring of the Spirit. This is because Israel as a nation did not repent, but remained disobedient. If they had repented, the “great and glorious day of the LORD” would have come immediately, accompanied by wonders and signs. Yahweh would have judged the enemies both within Israel and beyond to deliver His people. His actions would have been accompanied by the phenomena mentioned here. Now that day is yet to come. That is why those phenomena are still future.

They will certainly take place after the church has been raptured. We find that in the book of Revelation, from Revelation 6 onwards. Under the sixth seal mentioned there are judgments taking place which are very similar to what Joel says and Peter quotes here. All judgments that take place from Revelation 6 fall under what Joel calls the “great and glorious” day of Yahweh (Joel 2:31). These judgments pave the way for Christ’s return to earth to establish His kingdom of peace and righteousness. The “great and glorious day of the LORD” is the day of the return of the Lord Jesus (He is Yahweh) to earth and His reign that follows. That day is great because of the extensive consequences that His coming and government will have. That day is glorious because of the glorious and blessed consequences that His coming and reign will have.

Because of the announced judgments and the blessing that will follow, Peter concludes his quotation by offering salvation to anyone who understands his hopeless situation. That salvation is only possible by invoking the Name of the Lord. He who approaches Him in trusting faith does not perish, but is saved.

Paul quotes this verse and declares it to be of general application for the proclamation of the gospel throughout the world (Romans 10:13). In the gospel there is no discernment of judgment, nor is there any discernment of salvation. It is for everyone. Throughout all the centuries, salvation can only be found through faith in the Lord Jesus.

Verses 22-24

The Acts of God and of Man

Peter speaks to them as “men of Israel”, and not only as “men of Jerusalem”, or “men of Judea,” for he is going to speak of the general hope for the whole people. He is now going to tell why this baptism with the Holy Spirit took place. It was a direct act of the Lord Jesus Who is now exalted at the right hand of God.

Fifty days after the events during the Passover, events that will surely have faded away, Peter suddenly confronts the people again with the Man of Nazareth. He recalls how the Lord Jesus did miracles and wonders and signs in their midst. These were all proof that God was present in Him among them. God did it through Him. They knew that. Peter speaks to them as completely responsible people, as people who know that Christ did everything in God’s power. They have had to recognize God in Him.

Peter then tells them that they killed Him. They did not do that themselves, because they forced the Gentiles in the person of Pilate by manipulation to execute the death penalty on Him, but it does not make them any less guilty. On the contrary, they are even more guilty than Pilate (John 19:11), although he too is completely guilty of the death of the Lord Jesus.

Yet the death of Christ is not a surprise, not a matter that got out of hand. It is the perfect fulfillment of God’s counsel. God has perfect foreknowledge of what would happen to His Son, how His people would surrender Him. In this verse we see that God knows how to use man’s iniquity for His glorification and the fulfillment of His counsel, which, incidentally, does not change man’s responsibility. What man thought to be evil, God has turned to good (Genesis 50:20).

Peter does not accept the lie of the stolen body worthy of a word. He completely ignores it and preaches the truth of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus by God. In doing so, he testifies to the pleasure of God in the work of His Son and the full acknowledgment of it. Because of the perfection of that work, it was impossible for Him to be held by the agony of death. He tasted death for a short moment (Hebrews 2:7; Hebrews 2:9), but death could not hold Him in its power. Death had no hold on Him. He entered death voluntarily and overcame it. God dissolved the bonds of death, in which He had been for a short time. It would have been, speaking reverently, unjust of God if He had not done so and left His Son in death.

Verses 25-32

The Resurrection Foretold by David

Again, Peter cites Scripture as proof of what happened. The earlier Scripture served to explain the coming of the Holy Spirit. This time the Scripture – from Psalm 16 – serves as an explanation of the resurrection of Christ (Psalms 16:8-1 Kings :). David wrote this psalm ten centuries earlier. He writes in the ‘I’ form. Yet he could not write about himself. He died, was buried and still has not risen. David is a prophet here and he writes about Someone else.

No one but the Lord Jesus has gone His way without for a moment turning His eye away from God, His Father. He always saw God, His Father before Him, in His presence. He also always knew Him beside Himself (John 8:29). He felt completely supported by Him, so He did not shake. His fellowship with His God gave Him joy in His heart, which He expressed with His mouth, even in the time when He experienced rejection (Matthew 11:25).

Through His fellowship with His God, He had hope regarding the rest for His flesh, which is His body. He knew that He would die the death for the sinner, but He faced that death with the Father before and beside Him, as He saw the joy that would come afterwards (Hebrews 12:2). He knew that God would not “abandon” his soul to Hades. That means God would not give up His soul to the realm of death. God would not let his soul go there. Hades is the place where the souls of people who died in unbelief go (Luke 16:23), but Christ was the “Holy One” of God who had lived in complete seclusion for God’s glory.

The pains of death, which every unbeliever suffers in Hades and ultimately eternally in hell, He suffered for every believer in His soul in the three hours of darkness on the cross under God’s judgment. After He died, He was placed in the grave, but His body would not be affected by the decay of death. Also in His death He was ‘the Holy One’ of God. Because of this He knew that He would not see decomposition. After a short stay in the grave – “a little while” (Hebrews 2:9) – He was resurrected.

After hearing the Lord Jesus speak in the quote about His death and the safekeeping in it by God, we then hear how He speaks about life and joy. This is life and joy after having passed through death. After the resurrection ways of life are opened and made known.

That makes the resurrection of Christ different from the other resurrections in the Bible because those resurrected believers all died again. The life in the resurrection is a life full of joy, it is life with an eye on the face of God. In the spiritual sense this applies today to every believer who sees the Lord before him (Acts 2:25). Such a person always goes on the way of life, even if it may lead through death.

After the quote, Peter asks his listeners again for attention by addressing them as “brethren”. He says that he may confidently say, that is to say, that he is free to speak with boldness to them about David, whom he calls “patriarch”, in the sense of ancestor of the royal family. He knows the great interest of his audience in this, in their eyes, unsurpassed king. But however great David may be, he is both dead and buried. David’s grave was still among them with his bones in it, which meant that he did see decay.

This makes it clear that the preceding quote cannot refer to David. The psalm is therefore not about David, but about the Messiah. David was not only king, he was also a prophet. He spoke about future things, because God had assured him in the most powerful way possible, of a successor to his throne. That heir would be “[one] OF HIS DESCENDANTS”, that is, a direct descendant of him. That Descendant is the Christ, the Messiah.

David has believed the promise of God concerning an heir to the throne. That made him see ahead. If God has promised that there will be an Offspring on his throne, then death cannot nullify that promise of God. That’s why it could not help but that the Christ, after having died, would also rise. He would not only rise from the dead, but He would rise without taking anything of death with Him in His resurrection. Everything that belongs to death would not affect Him.

He was not left by God to the power of the realm of death, which would mean that the realm of death would have power over Him. He entered the realm of death voluntarily in order to overcome death. He has gone into death as a Victor, a victory that is shown by His resurrection in an immortal life. His flesh, therefore, has not seen decay, for all that has to do with death, He has invalidated it, so that it could not exercise its power over Him.

Peter does not let his listeners guess at the meaning of what he said about David and Christ. The Son of David and the Christ of God is “this Jesus”. Again we hear the emphatic “this” Jesus (Acts 1:11). The Jesus Who was raised up by God is the same Who died.

Peter also vigorously establishes His resurrection by saying that they are all witnesses to that fact. There was no doubt about that. After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared again and again, among other people, to them, the disciples, and spoke with them for forty days (Acts 1:3).

Verses 33-36

Jesus Made Both Lord and Christ

The Lord Jesus has not only been raised from the dead by God, He has also been “exalted” by the power of God. Peter attributes everything to God to show how much God appreciates and has accepted the work of His Son. On earth people may have despised and rejected Him, but for God He is the perfect Delightful One Whom He joyfully gives the highest and most glorious place in heaven. As the Father, He has given to the Lord Jesus the Holy Spirit promised by Him that the Lord Jesus might pour Him out (Acts 1:4; John 14:16-Esther :; John 14:26John 15:26). As glorified in heaven, Christ receives the Holy Spirit for the second time. At His baptism He received the Holy Spirit for Himself, now He receives the Spirit to pour Him out upon others.

As proof of the glorification of Christ, Peter quotes another verse from the Scriptures. This time the proof comes from Psalm 110 (Psalms 110:1). Just as he said about Psalm 16 that it does not primarily refer to David, but to Christ (Acts 2:31), here too he says that Psalm 110:1 is not about David, but about the Lord Jesus. (In the various psalms Peter quotes, we have a beautiful consecutive testimony of the death, resurrection, ascension and glorification of Christ).

David speaks in Psalm 110:1 about the glorification of the Lord Jesus as an act of Yahweh, that is God. The Lord Jesus is exalted by the right hand of God and God has given Him the place of honor at His right hand. That place belongs to Him, He has earned that place. David speaks about Him as “my Lord”. The Lord Jesus is the Son of David as Man, but He is also the Lord of David, because He is also the Son of God.

There is an “until” connected to that place of honor at God’s right hand. There will come a time when the Lord Jesus will leave that place to return to earth. He will then judge the enemies of His people – and the enemies of His people are also His enemies. He will place all those who have refused to repent and have constantly turned full of hatred against Him and His people as vanquished enemies under His feet so that He will rest on them. Then His wrath against all the injustice done to Him and His people will have found rest. Until that moment He remains in the glory. The outpouring of the Spirit is proof of the place He now occupies there (John 16:8-1 Kings :).

Peter presents to the whole house of Israel the certainty of what God has done to His Son. He also confronts them with their crime. Again he speaks about “this” Jesus. The contrast between the place God gives Him and the place man gives Him is enormous. Man has rejected, mistreated and murdered Him as a worthless one. God, on the other hand, has made Him Lord, the Sovereign Who has all the power in heaven and on earth. God has also made Him Christ, the Bearer and Distributor of all His promises.

Also on earth the Lord Jesus was Lord and Christ, but there He was in relation to Israel and all the promises made to Israel. Now He is as Man in heaven and it is with respect to God’s eternal counsel.

Verses 37-41

The Effect of the Preaching

The proofs were delivered from the Scriptures and then applied by Peter under the guidance of the Spirit, together with the other apostles, to the hearts and consciences of the hearers. In this way, what the Lord Jesus said with regard to the coming of the Holy Spirit has been fulfilled: “He takes of Mine and will disclose [it] to you” (John 16:15). Now the Holy Spirit has come and through Peter He shows the things concerning the Lord Jesus.

Often the hearers will have read, or will have heard read, these psalms themselves. They will always have understood that these psalms speak about the Messiah. Now they learn that these psalms have found their fulfillment in the past weeks. They come to the discovery of their crime. They have killed Him of Whom the psalms testify that He is the Messiah. The Spirit is working in their hearts the consciousness of what a terrible position they are in, now that it appears that He did not stay in death, but that He was resurrected. That is why they call for a possibility to escape judgment.

Their call is to Peter and the eleven other apostles and not to the chief priests and the scribes. They believe that Peter and his men can help them. All prejudice about these “Galileans” has disappeared. They ask their question to all the apostles, but it is answered by Peter as their spokesman.

His answer starts with “repent”. First of all, they must come to a complete change in their thinking about the Lord Jesus. They must accept Him as God has accepted Him. This means that they must confess their act of rejection of the Son of God as completely unjustified and as an act through which they are guilty of murder before God.

If this inner dismay about their past is there, they must then allow themselves to be baptized. As a result, they also externally distance themselves from the people to which they belong as a people under the judgment of God because of the death of His Son. Baptism is the open testimony of, on the one hand, a break with the past and the old environment and, on the other hand, the taking of a new path, the path of a follower of the Lord Jesus.

Baptism is the open condemnation of and break with the Jewish people and the joining of the new Christian testimony that has just emerged from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Baptism must therefore take place in the Name of Jesus Christ, the Name that was previously so despised by them, but which they must now openly confess through baptism as the only means of forgiveness of their sins. If they meet these two conditions – repentance and baptism – they will receive the Holy Spirit.

The order we see here is:
1. repentance;
2. baptism;
3. receiving the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 8, where the Samaritans are concerned, we have the same order, only there the Holy Spirit is given through the intervention of the apostles. In Acts 10, where it concerns the Gentiles, the order is different. There the order is:
1. repentance;
2. receiving the Holy Spirit;
3. baptism.
This order has been valid ever since, as long as the church is on earth.

Peter emphasizes that the promise of the Holy Spirit is special for them and their children. He has already proven this in Acts 2:16 by quoting from Joel 2. He now also tells that this promise is even for those who are outside the Jewish people. They could also know something about this from their Scriptures (Isaiah 57:19).

God’s promise to give the Holy Spirit cannot be limited to Israel, because that promise is related to the accomplished work of Christ that has also been accomplished for or on behalf of the whole world. That is why God’s calling voice goes out to all nations and calls them everywhere to believe in His Son.

Peter has said more than Luke has written down. He has preached the gospel in all possible terms and called them to repentance. He has called to be saved from “this perverse generation”. In doing so, he portrayed the people as a murderous people, as a people from whom one must be saved, because otherwise he will perish because of the judgment that will come over this people. He does his utmost to get the people to repent. He preaches his message with conviction.

In the same way, we must persuade people to let themselves be saved by the work of Christ from a world under judgment (2 Corinthians 5:11). We will only be credible if we ourselves are convinced of the truth and seriousness of the judgment and have also distanced ourselves from the world over which we preach the judgment.

The preaching of Peter has an enormous result. Many accept his word. We know that Peter has spoken the Word of God. Yet it is said that “his” word is accepted. He is as it were one with God’s message. Those who accept his word, i.e. confess their guilt before God for their rejection of the Lord Jesus, are baptized. Through baptism they openly distance themselves from the guilty Jewish people. The approximately three thousand souls who are baptized are proof of what the Lord Jesus said about the “greater” works that would be done by His apostles when He was back with the Father (John 14:12).

Verses 42-47

The First Church Life

With the addition of about three thousand believers, the church expanded considerably. In spite of all the differences that exist between all those many members of the church, there is unity. That unity has not been created by human activity and that unity is not maintained by human organization. The hearts of these believers are simply focused on the Lord Jesus and therefore the Holy Spirit is given the opportunity to ensure that the church remains a unity.

This is done through the four aspects mentioned here, which fully permeate the church life and in which they persevere. These aspects also relate to the meetings of the believers who are, as it were, the highlights of the Christian community. However, this can only be the case if these things dominate the whole of life.

“The apostles’ teaching” comes first. Education in God’s thoughts is the first thing the newly converted need. Only in this way a healthy spiritual life can grow. Persevering in this means not only a persistent listening to what the apostles say, but above all a persistent practice of the teaching the apostles give. Perseverance in the teaching of the apostles therefore applies to the whole life of the believers. On the basis of this teaching there is fellowship. The teaching of the apostles is the Scriptural basis for all forms of fellowship known to the church.

So the first thing that characterizes the church after its formation is submission to the teaching of the Holy Spirit by the apostles, which is now the teaching of the whole New Testament. This leads to the second aspect of being a church, and that is, having “fellowship” with one another. The church is a company of people who did not know each other before and did totally different things. What characterized them, characterized the world. Through faith in the Lord Jesus those people have now become a community in which He is their common ‘interest’ (1 Corinthians 1:9), about Who they want to speak to and think of.

This common interest is expressed in a special way in the third aspect, “the breaking of bread”, which is the celebration of the Supper of the Lord. In the expression of the fellowship, the breaking of the bread, the Lord constantly remains for their attention and brings out the deepest feelings for Him.

Finally, there is the awareness that they themselves have no power and that they are dependent on God in everything. That is why they also devote themselves “to prayer”.

What Christians do and how they live, makes all those who are not part of it afraid. The unbelievers perceive things they cannot explain and cannot control. The power of the Spirit is manifested in an impressive way, which can also be seen by unbelievers. The wonders and signs are not described here. In the following chapters Luke will mention some of them. The words “wonders and signs” are the same that are used for the Lord Jesus in Acts 2:22.

While there is fear outside the fellowship of the believers, there is great togetherness among the believers. They are together to share spiritual blessings with each other and they also share all their possessions with each other. What a difference with our time in which believers are separated from each other for all kinds of reasons and do not even know each other. Many who do know each other live separated from each other because each lives for himself and shares nothing of his wealth with others.

A true Christian cannot bear to have much, while others have too little. Perhaps it was because of the expectation of the Lord’s quick return, but the first Christians sold everything they had and shared it with each other. Incidentally, they did so entirely voluntarily, no one forced them to do so.

As said, their togetherness is great. They stay together, even when the feast of Pentecost is over. Their life no longer consists of holding their high times, but of an inner connection with each other that is constantly there. To experience their connection with each other, they come together in the temple and in the houses.

They do not build money devouring churches, but are characterized by simplicity and trust in God. A jeweled Christ child in the Cathedral in Rome and hungry street children just outside cannot be reconciled. The first church has none of everything we have today, such as buildings, money, political influence, social status, and yet many souls are won.

On the one hand, these Christians still cling to Jewish religious customs by going to the temple. On the other hand, they live the true Christian fellowship in their homes. Every day they break bread in remembrance of their Lord and enjoy fellowship with each other during love meals.

In all this they praise God. Their joy and praise are not the result of their redemption, as was the case with Israel in Exodus 15 (Exodus 15:1). It is the joy of believers who now share in the love of God. They have partaken of His nature and have been connected with God as their Father and the Holy Spirit has taken His dwelling in them.

Their whole way of life compels respect from the people. If Christians live as the Lord means, it is a blessing for the environment. The Lord contributes greatly to such a way of life. Every day He adds to the community. As a result, the number of those who are saved increases. Preservation is for eternity. It may also be that the salvation that is meant here has to do with the destruction to which Jerusalem will be given up in the year 70 as God’s judgment of the old system. Whoever repented escaped this, was saved from it.

NOTE What happened “day by day” or “daily” in the early church: meet one another (Acts 2:46); bring souls to repentance (Acts 2:47); increase in number (Acts 16:5); examine the Scriptures (Acts 17:11).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Acts 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/acts-2.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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