Acts 2:37-47 Three Thousand New Believers



As Peter began preaching on that first Pentecost Sunday, the crowd fell silent. His voice could be heard all over the temple mount. Peter was quoting their beloved prophets. As he spoke, it was as if Joel, and David, and Isaiah were present with them. Their hearts were being pierced with the message of God's Messiah. It is at this point that someone cries cry out, with perhaps others picking up the cry, "Brethren, what shall we do?"

Let's pick up at this point with our next study. This is Acts006 - Acts 2:37-47 Three Thousand New Believers.

Once again you may want to read this portion in its completeness before beginning the study. (Why not say a short prayer, asking the Lord to open your eyes to behold wonderful things from His book.)

Vs37; "Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?'"

We need to remember that while the gospel is a message of life, it is first a piercing message. It is designed to expose the heart, and to render the sinner with no excuse for his sins. Remember what Simeon said to Mary?

"Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed--and a sword will pierce even your own soul-- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." (Luke 2:34,35)

The statement Simeon made to Mary about a sword piercing her own soul is a parenthetical statement. Simeon was simply saying, 'And you, Mary, are not excluded from the sword.' The revealing of thoughts has to do with God's gospel doing a work of searching out our whole being.

This is where we need to understand the word 'conviction.' Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged." (John 16:8-11)

The word 'convict', or, elegcho in Greek, speaks of a judicial verdict where we are found guilty with no defense to hide behind. It carries the thought of a moral conquest of the mind.

This is what the gospel is designed to do in the case of a sinner. And this is why these Jewish peoples from the lands begin to cry out, "What shall we do!?"

Vs38: "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"

'Repent,' (metanoeo) means to change one's mind or purpose. When you couple it with the Hebrew word 'nacham', which means to be sorry, or to suffer grief, then you have the idea behind Biblical repentance. Biblical repentance is to have sorrow over sin which results in a change of direction.

The interesting thing about repentance is that the ancient Hebrews considered repentance as a form of worship. For the righteous man it mean to make continual course adjustments, or repentances, in order to keep on a path of righteousness. They believed that these course adjustments, or repentances, were received by God as worship.

.... each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins..."

Behind this statement is the issue of receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Messiah of Israel, and in doing this their sins have already been forgiven. The command to repent is an active imperative. It means 'to it now!' Or, 'Turn to Jesus now!' "Each of you" makes it very personal.

"Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." In early Jewish baptisms, the person generally baptized themselves with witnesses standing by. In doing this the new believer would express his faith by calling upon the name of the Lord. Let's reach forward to see this Paul was baptized. Ananias said to him, "Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." (Acts 22:16 - Remember that both Ananias and Paul are from the same culture as Jewish men.)

As for baptizing in the name of Jesus, this was the only form of baptism known by the earliest of believers. However, it wasn't too long afterward that baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, began to take hold.

Note: Rather than get into the 'whys' of Jesus name baptism, I want to recommend that the membership go to the Christian Challenge web site; http://christianchallenge.org/. Click on Hebraic Foundations, and then scale down to study HF056 - The Name Above All Names.

... and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Notice the promise is unconditional. "Will receive" is the Greek word 'lambano' which means to take to yourself, or, take into possession. Therefore, in their turning to the Lord and baptism, they will be the recipients of the covenant Spirit. Peter meant this in the sense of new covenant salvation. Receiving the Spirit takes place in salvation. It is not something that takes place further down the road.

Vs39: "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."

Peter is still going with the prophets. Since we have already covered this, l'll leave further comment off. The Jews well understood that the promised Spirit came with the new covenant.

Vs40: "And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation!'"

At this point Peter is still dealing with the message. He has told them what they must do to be saved, but God has more to say to the people, and this statement of being 'saved from this perverse generation' is very important to the message of Pentecost. (Especially to the Jewish people.)

Peter is now drawing from Moses. As a prophet, Moses spoke down through the ages, and in the song of Moses we have the history of Israel laid out. (Past and future.) I want to highlight a couple parts of the song of Moses, so you will see where Peter is coming from. (When Revelation speaks of the Song of Moses and the Lamb, this is the song in view.)

The song is found in Deuteronomy 32:

Vs1: "Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak..." (Moses is prophesying over Israel by the Spirit.)

Vs4: "The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just..."

The Rock was one of God's Old Testament names. When Jesus used that expression, his Jewish apostles knew exactly what He meant. "Upon this Rock I will build My Church. Peter wasn't the rock. That would make Peter God. Jesus Christ is the Rock. He is God with us.

Vs5: "They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation."

Did you catch it? The rejecters of God's Messiah have acted corruptly towards Him. When Peter spoke by the Spirit, he was telling the crowd to escape from the Christ rejecters. But he is speaking from Moses.

Also notice that Moses says, "They are not His children." The children of God are only those who receive Jesus Christ. And this is important to understand. No Jew will be saved because he or she is a Jew. Jesus said to them, "Unless you believe I am He, you will did in your sins."

Why not take time at some point to meditate on the song of Moses. There is much there for the Spirit to share with you.

Back to Acts 2:

Vs41: "So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls."

Recall earlier what I shared about the mikvehs on the temple mount. There were a great number of these 'step down' pools, where various Jewish holiness rituals took place. But now they are being used for a different purpose. The apostles would not have have gone into these pools with the new believers. Each believer baptized himself or herself.

Can you imagine the activity on the temple mount that day. Peoples were lined up at the mikvehs for baptism. The apostles and others of the one hundred twenty original believers were bearing witness.

Three thousand souls added in one day! This would bring the company of believers upward to four thousand Jewish folk. (Remember that Jesus had appeared to over five hundred believers during His forty days on earth.)

Let's read our remaining Scriptures as a group, then I'll make brief comments on portions of the reading. What happens next is a description of the overflow of Pentecost. No one wants to leave Jerusalem. The temple mount still remains very much in focus. After all the prophet said that Messiah would come to His temple.

Vss43-47: "Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles."

.... notice where the miracles and signs are taking place. The apostles are the witnesses of Messiah. They need to take center place in the forming of the Church.

"And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need."

This is a very Jewish thing. But for these new believers it is enjoined with a sense of expectation they had never before known. It is likely that they expected Jesus to return soon.

"Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple ..."

The temple area continues to be the center of activity. At this point there is no resistance from the authorities. What can they do? We will soon see that many of the priests are turning to Jesus.

" ... praising God and having favor with all the people."

Notice how this is affecting all of Jerusalem.

"And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."

And here is one of the great mysteries of our salvation. Jesus said, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." (John 6:37)


This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.


Page added October 22, 2004

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