NOTES On The Acts of the Apostles: 2:14-47

The structure of this section contains the following features:

Introduction: The Constitutive Events of the Christian Mission (Acts 1:1–2:41)

Part I: The Christian Mission to the Jewish World (Acts 2:42–12:24)

Panel 1—The Earliest Days of the Church at Jerusalem (Acts 2:42–6:7)

Longenecker, R. N. (1981). The Acts of the Apostles. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts (Vol. 9, pp. 234). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

One of the most characteristic features of Acts is the presence of many speeches interspersed throughout the narrative. Altogether these comprise nearly a third of the text of Acts, about 300 of its approximately 1,000 verses. In all there are twenty-four of these—eight coming from Peter, nine from Paul, and seven from various others.

Of the twenty-four, ten can be described as “major” addresses: three “missionary” sermons of Peter (chaps. 2; 3; 10); a trilogy of speeches from Paul in the course of his mission (chaps. 13; 17; 20), three “defense speeches” of Paul (chaps. 22; 24; 26), and Stephen’s address before the Sanhedrin (chap. 7).

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, pp. 43–44). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

The following parallels between Luke’s gospel and Acts should be noted:

A final form that likely influenced Luke in his conception of Acts was the Gospel form itself. The parallels between the life of Jesus as pictured in Luke’s Gospel and the careers of Peter and Paul in Acts have often been noted. Sometimes they are quite striking—parallel miracles, parallel defenses, parallel sufferings. In some sense Luke saw a continuation of the story of Jesus in the lives of the apostles. What Jesus began to do and teach is continued by his faithful witnesses (Acts 1:1). For Luke the Gospel and Acts represent two stages of the same story.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, pp. 42–43). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Peter’s address to the crowd has several noteworthy features:

Nine a.m. (the third hour) was usually the hour of prayer, after which Jews would take their first food.17 People generally need more time to get drunk.

Gaertner, D. (1995). Acts (Ac 2:14–21). Joplin, MO: College Press.

Probably this is an example of the sort of humor that runs throughout Acts: “Folks don’t get drunk first thing in the morning … that comes later in the day” (author’s paraphrase). That would be especially true of a solemn feast day like Pentecost when the celebrating would only begin in earnest in the evening.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 108). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Peter “raised his voice,” a common Semitic expression for beginning to speak. He “addressed” the crowd. The verb means to speak seriously, with gravity, a word often used for prophetic, inspired utterance.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 108). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

The term for “addressed” is also used in 2:4 and calls attention to the inspired quality of Peter’s speech.

Gaertner, D. (1995). Acts (Ac 2:14–21). Joplin, MO: College Press.

Acts 2:4 (CSB) — 4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 2:4 (SBLGNT) — 3 4 καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν πάντες πνεύματος ἁγίου, καὶ ἤρξαντο λαλεῖν ἑτέραις γλώσσαις καθὼς τὸ πνεῦμα ἐδίδου ἀποφθέγγεσθαι αὐτοῖς.

Acts 2:14 (CSB) — 14 Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Fellow Jews and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words.

Acts 2:14 (SBLGNT) — 13 14 Σταθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος σὺν τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐπῆρεν τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπεφθέγξατο αὐτοῖς· Ἄνδρες Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ οἱ κατοικοῦντες Ἰερουσαλὴμ πάντες, τοῦτο ὑμῖν γνωστὸν ἔστω καὶ ἐνωτίσασθε τὰ ῥήματά μου.

Acts 26:25 (CSB) — 25 But Paul replied, “I’m not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. On the contrary, I’m speaking words of truth and good judgment.

Acts 26:25 (SBLGNT) — 24 25 ὁ δὲ Παῦλος· Οὐ μαίνομαι, φησίν, κράτιστε Φῆστε, ἀλλὰ ἀληθείας καὶ σωφροσύνης ῥήματα ἀποφθέγγομαι.

“Fellow Jews” and “all of you who live in Jerusalem” refer to the same group. Such parallel expression typifies Semitic style, as also the expression “give ear to my words” (NIV: “listen carefully to what I say”). Luke’s writing skill is apparent by his preservation of the Semitic flavor of Peter’s language.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 108). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Often the speeches in Acts begin with a correction of a misunderstanding (cf. 3:12; 14:15), a natural attention-getting device

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 108). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Joel’s words were directed toward God’s people at a time when God’s judgment was being felt. A plague of locusts had ruined the land. Joel called upon the people to repent of their sins and to look expectantly for the restoration of prosperity and the coming age of the Messiah when the Spirit would be poured out upon everybody.

Gaertner, D. (1995). Acts (Ac 2:14–21). Joplin, MO: College Press.

“The last days” described in the Old Testament the time when God’s purposes would be fulfilled (see Isa 2:2; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1; also Heb 1:1; 1 Pet 1:20; 1 John 2:18).

Gaertner, D. (1995). Acts (Ac 2:14–21). Joplin, MO: College Press.

The prophecy foretold the giving of the Spirit to all believers. Phrases such as “on all people,” “sons and daughters,” and “both men and women,” vividly make the point. Even the term “pour out” (εκχεῶ, ekcheō) implies that God intends for a universal reception of the Holy Spirit in the new age.

Gaertner, D. (1995). Acts (Ac 2:14–21). Joplin, MO: College Press.

The mention of “sons and daughters” in v. 17 and “my servants” in v. 18 is meant as a Hebrew parallelism. One group is intended rather than two distinct groups. The sons and daughters are also servants of God. It is significant that the Spirit’s ministry would also include women, and Paul later deals with the Corinthian women who exercised spiritual gifts.

Gaertner, D. (1995). Acts (Ac 2:14–21). Joplin, MO: College Press.

The final phrase in v. 18 expands the text of Joel, reiterating the point made in v. 17, “They will prophesy.” Whatever the actual phenomenon at Pentecost, Peter emphasized here that it was prophecy, inspired utterance from the Lord.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 109). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

In any event the signs in v. 19 are standard apocalyptic language and almost certainly refer to the final cosmic events preceding the Parousia.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 110). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

The central focus of Peter’s sermon is found in the following declaration:

Verse 21 was the most important verse for Peter: “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 110). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Acts 2:22–36 is the heart of Peter’s sermon. It begins with an introductory summary of God’s action in the ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ (vv. 22–24). A scriptural proof from Ps 16:8–11 then shows that Christ is indeed the expected Messiah, as his resurrection proves (vv. 25–31). A further scriptural proof from Ps 110:1 depicts how the risen Christ is now both Messiah and Lord exalted to the right hand of the Father (vv. 32–36).

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 111). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

A consistent theme throughout Acts regarding the supernatural miracles should be noted here:

Throughout Acts the term “wonders” only occurs in conjunction with “signs,” a testimony to the fact that mere marvels have no value in themselves except as they point beyond themselves to the divine power behind them and so lead to faith

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 112). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Peter’s preaching emphasizes Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament promises, particularly those made to David:

2:25–28 Having set forth the basic Christian confession that Jesus is God’s appointed Messiah, Peter sought to support this with scriptural proof from Ps 16:8–11. Luke reproduced the psalm exactly as it appears in the Septuagint (vv. 25–28). The attribution of the psalm to David is particularly important in this instance, since its application to Jesus is based on the Davidic descent of the Messiah.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, pp. 113–114). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

2:30–31 Behind the oath referred to in v. 30 stands Nathan’s prophecy (Ps 132:11; 2 Sam 7:12–13) that God would establish an eternal kingdom with one of David’s descendants, a prophecy that had come to be understood messianically

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 114). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Peter’s next transition sets up the emphasis of his thought regarding the glorified Christ:

2:32–35 From resurrection Peter then proceeded to the exaltation of Christ. Christ is indeed the Messiah, for God has raised him, fulfilling the prophecy of David. The proof of Jesus’ resurrection is the eyewitness report of the apostles (v. 32). The exaltation has already been implicitly mentioned by the reference to the enthronement of David’s descendant in v. 30. Now it becomes explicit in v. 33. God has exalted Christ to his right hand and given him the gift of the Holy Spirit, which has now been poured out. Just as the apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, so the Jewish crowd itself was witness to the exaltation of Christ as they had witnessed the gift of the outpoured Spirit at Pentecost.124 Only the one exalted to God’s right hand can dispense the Spirit.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 115). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

The Spirit has been poured out, as “you now see and hear.” It follows that the Christ has been exalted. But again Peter used a scriptural proof to back up this assertion, again a psalm of David (Ps 110:1).

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 115). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

2:36 Verse 36 provides the climax to Peter’s sermon and returns full circle to its beginning point, the affirmation of Jesus as Lord (v. 21). In fact, every point to this conclusion of the sermon harks back to its beginning. “God has made this Jesus … Lord and Christ” is reminiscent of the Messiah-designate language of v. 22. “Whom you crucified” returns to the theme of the Jewish guilt in Jesus’ death (v. 23). Peter’s whole use of the psalms had been to establish the messianic status of Jesus for his Jewish audience. Now, with the prompting of Ps 110:1, he moved them to call upon the name that is above every name (Phil 2:9) and confess Jesus as Lord, leading back to his original text of Joel 2:32.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, pp. 115–116). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

The crowd’s response illustrates the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of sinners to produce life:

2:37–39 Peter’s Jewish crowd got his point. They were guilty of rejecting, even crucifying, the Messiah. Luke said they were “cut to the heart,” an uncommon word Homer used to depict horses stamping the earth with their hooves (v. 37).126 Peter’s response was almost programmatic in that he presented them with four essentials of the conversion experience (v. 38): repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins, and receipt of the Spirit.127 These four generally form a single complex throughout Luke-Acts. They are the normative ingredients of conversion. There is no set, mechanistic pattern by which the various components come into play, particularly baptism and the receipt of the Spirit.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 116). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Careful consideration of two perspectives on Peter’s answer is warranted at this juncture:

The connection of baptism with the forgiveness of sins in v. has often been a matter of controversy. A literal rendering of the verse runs: “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for/on the basis of the forgiveness of your sins.” The disputed word is the preposition eis, which could indicate purpose and thus be taken to mean that baptism is the prerequisite for the forgiveness of sins. There is ample evidence in the New Testament, however, that eis can also mean on the ground of, on the basis of, which would indicate the opposite relationship—that the forgiveness of sins is the basis, the grounds for being baptized. Perhaps more significant, however, is that the usual connection of the forgiveness of sins in Luke-Acts is with repentance and not with baptism at all (cf. Luke 24:47; Acts 3:19; 5:31). In fact, in no other passage of Acts is baptism presented as bringing about the forgiveness of sins. If not linked with repentance, forgiveness is connected with faith (cf. 10:43; 13:38f.; 26:18). The dominant idea in 2:38 thus seems to be repentance, with the other elements following. Repentance leads to baptism, the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Spirit. The essential response Peter called from the Jewish crowd is the complete turnabout that comprises true repentance, to turn away from their rejection of the Messiah and to call upon his name, receive baptism into his community, and share the gift of the Spirit they had just witnessed so powerfully at work in the Christians at Pentecost. Peter concluded his appeal with a promise, the promise of Joel 2:32 (cf. v. 21): “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The universal scope of the promise is emphasized. Salvation is not only for the group of Jews present at Pentecost but for future generations (“your children”) as well. It is not only for Jews but for Gentiles, for those “who are far off.”

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 117). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Their question sought relief from the painful jolt of recognizing how wrong they had been about Jesus and they wondered what they could do to rectify this wrong and remove their guilt.  Peter’s response presents the very core of the Gospel… Two imperatives are given, “repent and be baptized.” The Greek term for repentance (μετανοέω, metanoeō) carries the idea of turning from sin to God. Repentance incorporates a change of heart about unrighteousness and a desire to be reoriented toward the will of God. The second imperative is baptism… During the ministry of John the Baptist, believers participated in “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3). Now Peter instructed his audience to follow a similar course, except this baptism would be “in the name of Jesus Christ”… as a response of allegiance to the risen Lord. This repentance and baptism would also bring forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. A number of commentators… take the preposition “for” (εἰς, eis) to mean “because of” rather than “in order to.” This position disregards the very common use of eis in the New Testament to mean “for the purpose of, in order to.”  For example, in Matthew 26:28 where this exact phrase appears, Jesus says his blood is poured out “for (eis) the forgiveness of sins”. Beyond this, the command to be baptized is only one of the imperatives Peter gave. “Be baptized” is joined to “repent” with “and”… This position need not rob the plan of salvation of its basis in the grace of God. Both imperatives expect action to be taken on the part of the sinner. Yet Peter considered neither to be a work which merits salvation, but merely the response of faith dictated by the prophesy he had already cited—“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (2:21).

Gaertner, D. (1995). Acts (Ac 2:37–40). Joplin, MO: College Press.

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