Acts 2 - Outline of Acts (Book Notes menu page)
1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come,
they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind,
and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire,
and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,
and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
...when the day of Pentecost was fully come {GK=sumperoo, 'was fulfilled'}...-
The day for which they were waiting, had finally arrived (1:4,5,8).
     The word translated 'fully come' can also refer to the fulfillment of prophetic expectation. Pentecost is the fourth of seven annual feasts which the LORD commanded the Jews to keep. Each feast has significance relative to God's plan of salvation and the work of the Messiah. The first four were fulfilled at His first coming:
  1. Passover - Christ's sacrifice, on our behalf, delivers us from bondage to sin and death.
    Lev 23:1-5; 1Cor 5:7; 1Pet 1:18,19
  2. Unleavened Bread - Christ's sacrifice purged our sin, so that we might live in righteousness.
    Lev 23:6-8; 1Cor 11:23-26; 5:6-8; 2Cor 7:1; Gal 5:7-9
  3. First Fruits - Christ's resurrection, as the first to arise out from among the dead.
    Lev 23:9-14 (celebrated on the first day of the week); Mat 28:1-f; 1Cor 15:22,23
  4. Pentecost - Christ begins the ingathering of believers into His Church.
    Lev 23:15-22; 1Cor 10:16,17
    This feast occurred 50 days after the day of Christ's resurrection, at 'First Fruits.'
    The two wave loaves of leavened bread depict...
    • the firstfruits of Christ's Church, of believers redeemed by the blood of the Lamb...
    • in two groups (Jew & Gentile)...
    • yet still imperfect, due to the presence of their sinful fleshly nature (leaven).
    The significance of the remaining feasts will be fulfilled, for Israel, at Christ's second coming.
  5. Trumpets - The future regathering of Israel and their deliverance in the Day of the LORD.
    Lev 23:23-25; Isa 18:3,7; 27:12,13; 58:1-14; Joel 2:15-32; Zech 12:1-3; 14:1-3
  6. Day of Atonement - Remission for sin will be applied to Israel, when they turn to the Lamb.
    Lev 23:26-32; Heb 9:1-28; Zech 12:10-14; Zech 13:1
  7. Tabernacles - The LORD will dwell among His people.
    Lev 23:33-44; Ezra 3:4; Zech 14:16-19; Rev 21:3
...there came a sound like as... wind... cloven tongues... like as of fire...-
The coming of the Holy Spirit was manifested to the disciples with sight and sound. The Holy Spirit is neither wind nor fire (eg., 1Kin 19:11,12), but the Presence of God in the hearts of true believers. The disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit, not with fire. (The baptism with fire refers to future judgment upon the wicked. Mat 3:11,12). The visible presentation was an external marker of a new inward reality. The word 'cloven' means 'divided,' or 'separated.' The visible flame divided into multiple 'tongues of fire' to settle upon each disciple.
...and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost...-
We must remember that this marks a new thing. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit 'came upon' certain men to enable them for the LORD's service, but the Spirit did not take up permanent residence within those men. In some cases, the LORD removed His Spirit from individuals when they rebelled against Him (eg., King Saul, 1Sam 16:14).
     By His sacrifice, Christ has established the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-33), by which the believer is born again of God's Spirit (Joh 3:3,6; 1Joh 5:1), who permanently dwells within the child of God (1Cor 6:19; Rom 8:9-15; 1Joh 2:27; Gal 4:6). Prior to His death and resurrection, Jesus instructed his disciples to ask for the Holy Spirit (Luk 11:13). That instruction was applicable during the dispensation of the Old Covenant. However, now that the Holy Spirit dwells permanently within the believer, there is no reason to make that request.
     Remember how Jesus told the disciples that they would be baptized with the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:4,5). They would not be empowered for service as Christ's witnesses, until after the Holy Spirit came upon them (1:8). In the experience of most believers, the 'baptism of the Spirit' and the 'filling' of the Spirit (to empower service) do not occur at the same time. There are several aspects to the work of the Holy Spirit within the believer. Some occur instantaneously when a person puts their trust in Christ. Others occur gradually and involve the willing preparation of the believer's heart. To be "full of the Holy Spirit" is not to have more of Him, but rather, to be fully yielded to Him.
The work of the Holy Spirit within the believer -
  1. Regeneration - the new birth - Joh 3:5
  2. Indwelling - the Temple of God - Rom 8:9
  3. Sealing - eternal identification as a child of God - Eph 1:13,14; 4:30
  4. Baptism - intimate identification with Christ as a member of His body - 1Cor 12:13
    The baptism of the Spirit places the believer into the body of Christ, which is His Church. The baptism of the Spirit first occurred at Pentecost. Therefore, this occasion marks the beginning of the NT church.
       All of the above occur at the moment that a person places his or her trust in Christ alone for salvation.
  5. Sanctification - purification - Sanctification is both instantaneous and progressive.
  6. Filling - enablement for service -
    Every believer is baptized into Christ's body. But not every believer is filled with the Spirit. Ungodly living, which grieves the Spirit, will prevent His filling (Eph 4:30).
       The believer who prepares his heart unto godliness and in the knowledge of God's Word, will become meet {suitable} for the master's use (2Tim 2:20,21; 3:16,17; Eph 5:18).
       At that first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came, to a room full of disciples whom Jesus had been preparing for the past three years. The Spirit accomplished, within each of them, the work that He does for every believer (points "a - d" above, and part of point "e"). Finding their hearts already prepared (Acts 1:14), He went on to fill them for service, without delay.
...and they... began to speak with other tongues...-
We should not expect every believer to speak with tongues, any more than we should expect that the Holy Spirit will always manifest Himself with a mighty wind and visible tongues of fire. Where the NT speaks of the "gift of tongues," it is clear that this gift is not for everyone (1Cor 12:30). the Spirit gave them utterance.-
The Holy Spirit enables every believer for service. But He gives differing abilities to each one, according to God's will, for each of the diverse members of Christ's body (1Cor 12:4-11).
Why did the Holy Spirit cause these disciples to speak in other tongues?
5. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded,
because that every man heard
{lit., was hearing} them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another,
Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia,
and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene,
and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians,
we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another,
What meaneth this?
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
...there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation...-
On this occasion, Jerusalem was crowded with Jewish men from all corners of the world, because all Jewish men were required to attend three specified national feasts every year, namely: the feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of Weeks (ie., Pentecost), and the feast of Tabernacles (Deu 16:16).
...and [they] were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language...-
Although these men were all Jews, many of them were not fluent in Hebrew (or Aramaic). Those who had been born in the diaspora (the scattering of the Jews to many different nations), spoke the languages of those nations.
...are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?-
Note that, on this occasion, the disciples were not speaking in 'unknown tongues' or 'tongues of angels' (1Cor 13:1; 14:2), but rather in the birth languages of their hearers.
     The people of Galilee were farmers and fishermen, not scholars and world travelers. Those who heard them communicating fluently in a multitude of languages, were 'confounded' {ie., confused}, 'amazed' {ie., astonished}, and 'marvelled' {ie., were filled with wonder}. Lacking an explanation, they asked:
...What meaneth this? {ie., What is happening here?}
Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.-
To the ears of many of the local Jewish people, these languages were nothing but gibberish... the confusion of drunken men.
14. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them,
Ye men of Judaea, and all [ye] that dwell at Jerusalem,
be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose,
seeing it is [but] the third hour of the day.
{ie., about 9 in the morning}
Peter begins his first sermon by countering the explanation offered by the mockers.
It was too early in the day for anyone to be drunk.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God,
I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh:
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens
I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above,
and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass,
[that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Peter explains that the Holy Spirit's enabling of the disciples, to proclaim God's Word,
was in keeping with what the Scriptures tell us to expect in the last days. To make his point, he quotes from Joel 2:28-32.
     Peter was not saying that this prophecy was being fulfilled at that first Pentecost, since the signs which will accompany fulfillment were not present (Acts 2:19,20). However, because it was evident that God was pouring out His Spirit upon the disciples, those who heard should take heed to the message.
     [Note: In the NT, 'the last days' usually refers to the Church Age. Here, Peter uses 'the last days' to translate the word 'afterward' {HB='achar, end, ie., in the end times} from an OT passage. Joel's prophecy anticipates 'the latter {HB='achariyth} days,' which is an OT expression, referring to the future Day of the LORD, which includes the Time of Jacob's Trouble and the Millennial Kingdom.]
...whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.-
With that introduction, Peter begins to proclaim the Gospel {good news} of salvation through Jesus Christ. The Lord had previously given Peter the privilege, of being the first to preach the Gospel (Mat 16:19). On this occasion, he used the 'keys' to open entrance into the kingdom of heaven, to all Jewish people who would put their trust in the Person and work of Christ (Mat 16:16,21). About seven years later, in Acts ch. 10, Peter would again use the keys, to open the way of salvation, to gentile believers, for the first time.
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words;
Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you
by miracles and wonders and signs,
which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,
ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
...Jesus... approved of God... by miracles... wonders... signs... as ye yourselves also know...-
The listeners were well aware of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, which had only recently been terminated. It was no secret that He had healed the sick, cured the blind and lame, cast out demons, raised the dead... There was no explanation for His power, unless He was the One sent from God, as He claimed (Joh 10:36-38; 14:11).
...Him... ye have taken {ie., laid hold upon}... have crucified {lit., fastened, affixed} and slain {ie., put to death}...-
This was the work of "wicked hands."
     So, who is to blame for crucifying the Christ? Peter is addressing a large gathering of Jewish men, who represent the nation at large. Most of those men had no direct part in Christ's death. But the nation, led by religious leaders who were following their own agenda, had rejected Christ as their King and demanded His death (John 19:14-16). The Roman governor was also involved, though he sought to absolve himself of guilt. Regardless of what others said, the responsibility for justice was in his hand: to crucify or to set free. It was the Roman soldiers who drove the nails (Mat 27:22-26). No one, neither leaders nor people, Jew nor Gentile, understood who Jesus was. Therefore, from the cross, Jesus prayed for all concerned (Luk 23:34).
     His prayer extends to you and me. For we also are to blame. The sinless One died for your sins and mine.
...being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God...-
The wicked hands of sinful men carried out Christ's crucifixion. But God Himself had pre-determined in ages past, to deliver up His Son for us all (Acts 3:18; 13:27). Jesus' prayer, that sinful men might be forgiven, was answered by His own sacrificial death in our place (Isa 53:6-11; Joh 10:17,18).
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death:
because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
25 For David speaketh concerning him,
I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad;
moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell,
neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Whom God hath raised up...-
The resurrection of Christ is essential to the Gospel message. It is the predominant theme of all the sermons recorded in Acts. It is a central theme of the epistles. If Christ did not rise from the dead, there is no salvation in His death (1Cor 15:13-17).
     While Peter and the eleven standing with him (v.14) were eye witnesses that Jesus had indeed risen, he begins, not with their testimony, but with the testimony of Scripture.
...because it was not possible that he should be holden by it {ie., by death}...-
In v. 25-28, Peter quotes from Psalm 16:8-11.
His argument is: God, in His written Word, foretold that His Holy One (ie., the Messiah, the Christ) would not remain in the grave but would be restored to life. Therefore, death was powerless to keep Him.
29 Men [and] brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David,
that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
30 Therefore being a prophet,
and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him,
that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh,
he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ,
that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
King David wrote Psalm 16 (quoted above)...-
But obviously he was not writing about himself, since his body remains dead in his grave. (Even today, tourists can visit his sepulchre in Jerusalem.)
Rather, David wrote prophetically of the Messiah, the Christ: one of king David's physical descendants, who would reign forever on his throne, in answer to God's promise to David (2Sam 7:12-13; 1Chr 17:11-15; Luk 1:31-33).
He... spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.-
The word 'hell,' in Psalm 16:10, is the Hebrew 'sheol' meaning the grave, the place of the dead. The Greek word that Peter uses for 'hell,' in v.31, 'hades' has the same meaning.
     Because the scripture cannot be broken, the Christ could not remain in the grave. Of necessity, His body must arise out from the place of the dead.
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
ie., The fact (to which we testify) that God raised up Jesus, is evidence that He is the Christ.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted,
and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost,
he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself,
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
Therefore... He hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.-
Here, Peter provides the explanation for the phenomenon, at which his hearers marvelled (v.6-8):
Jesus, the Christ, was not only risen from the dead, but also exalted into the Presence of God the Father. From there, He had sent the Holy Spirit, in keeping with the prophecy of Joel (quoted in v.16-17 above), and in fulfillment of the promise of Jesus Himself (Acts 1:4,5).
     Peter was quick to show that this assertion rested on the solid ground of Scripture...
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith...-
In v.34-35, Peter quotes Psalm 110:1, in which David spoke prophetically of the exaltation of the Christ. (Jesus also quoted this psalm to teach that the Christ would be exalted to a position much higher than that of king David. Mat 22:41-46)
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly,
that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Peter's concluding statement is logical and powerful... and bold.
He knew the Truth (John 14:6) and was no longer afraid to own and proclaim Him.
...God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Though rejected by men, Jesus was established by God, as...
  • the Christ, the man anointed {or, appointed} by the Father to save His people from their sin (Mat 1:21-23).
  • the Lord {GK=kurios}, who has all power in heaven and in earth (Mat 28:18), and who is the Judge of all men (Joh 5:22-29).
    See Psalm 2 which foretold His rejection by men and His exaltation by God.
37. Now when they heard [this], they were pricked in their heart,
and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles,
Men [and] brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them,
Repent, and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,
and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off,
[even] as many as the Lord our God shall call.
...when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart...-
After they heard God's Word, the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts to convict them of the Truth and of their guilt (Joh 16:7-11).
...what shall we do?...-
Under conviction that their sin had caused the crucifixion of their Messiah, they seek an escape from God's wrath and a cure for their condition.
Peter answered:
  • Repent... {ie., change your mind, turn from past error}-
    These Jewish men were observant practioners of their God given religion (as indicated by their attendance at the prescribed feasts). Yet, they had been living in ignorant disregard for God's purposes, even while He had been fulfilling His prophetic Word, right before their eyes. They were going their own way, they needed to turn around and become aligned with what God was doing.
  • Be baptized... in the name of Jesus Christ... for the remission of sins...-
    By means of water baptism, a person, who has put his or her trust in the name of Jesus Christ, gives testimony to that faith. The clear teaching of scripture is that baptism is only for those who believe (eg., Acts 8:36-38). There is no remission {ie., release} from sin through the water of baptism, but rather by faith in the blood of Christ (Mat 26:28; Acts 10:43; Rom 3:25,26).
         Baptism is a public declaration of a believer's confidence in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (Joh 1:29). By baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, these Jewish men would be turning from the Temple sacrifices, which foreshadowed Christ's all sufficient sacrifice, to put their trust in Him alone (Heb 10:1-14).
  • ...every one of you...- Although the nation had rejected their Messiah, remission of sin was available for individuals who turned to Him in faith.
...and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.-
The Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer at the moment that faith is placed in Christ. There is no work to do, other than to believe in Christ (Joh 6:28,29). The person who receives Christ by faith, also receives the "gift" of eternal life through the new birth by God's Spirit (Joh 1:11-13; 3:5-6,15-16; Rom 6:23; 8:8,9). A gift cannot be earned. It must be either received or rejected.
[Review the notes about 'The work of the Holy Spirit within the believer,' at v.4 above.]
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying,
Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:
and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls. yourselves from this untoward {ie., wicked} generation...-
All mankind is under the judgment of God, for the wickedness of our hearts and our willful disregard for God's Word. John the Baptist and Jesus used similar words as they warned of judgment to come (see Mat 3:7-10; 12:34,39-40; Mat 23:33). There is no escape from judgment, for those who turn away from the Savior (Mark 8:36-38; Heb 2:3).
...they that gladly received his word were baptized...-
Here again, we see that belief in God's Word is pre-requisite for water baptism... and that water baptism is an external visible testimony of the believer's faith in, and identification with, Christ.
...the same day... were added... three thousand souls.-
How were the apostles going to deal with such sudden church growth?
42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship,
and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul:
and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods,
and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple,
and breaking bread from house to house,
did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
...they continued stedfastly {GK=proskartereo, lit., 'they were strong towards,' ie., they gave diligent attention to}...-
  • the apostles' doctrine {GK=didache, teaching} -
    Believers must be instructed in God's Word, to have a solid foundation in 'the faith' (the body of truth received from God, Jude 1:3), to have a proper understanding of their role in the body (Eph 4:11-13), and to be prepared to stand against error. 2Pet 3:1-3,17-18
  • fellowship {GK=koinonia, that which they held in common} -
    The church of Christ is an assembly of people from all walks of life, with great diversity in backgrounds (varying in language, culture, education, economic status, etc.). The one thing that we have in common is faith in Christ. He is central to our fellowship with one another (1Joh 1:3-7; eg., Php 1:3-5).
  • breaking of bread -
    As v.46 indicates, the new believers broke bread together by sharing their regular meals with one another.
       However, in v.42 (as in most of the NT), the primary sense of 'breaking of bread' is the Lord's Table, which is observed to remember "the Lord's death till He comes" again. (1Cor 10:16-17,21; 11:20-26).
  • prayers - As we read through Acts, we are impressed that the early church was a praying church. In our day, because the church neglects calling upon the name of the Lord, we do not know the great and mighty things that He would to do for us (Jer 33:3).
Observe the power of God at work in that day...
  • fear came upon every soul...- Every soul, whether believing or unbelieving, was aware that God was moving. Motivated by a fear of God, they sought an understanding of what He was doing. As the apostles proclaimed His Word, He confirmed it with miraculous signs (Mark 16:20; Heb 2:3,4).
  • there was unparalleled unity among the believers - v.44-47
    • They held their material possessions in common {GK=koinos}- No doubt, their strong anticipation of the Lord's imminent return, encouraged them to sell their goods and distribute the proceeds to provide equally for every brother.
    • They were of 'one accord'... and in 'singleness of heart' - Being united in the one purpose of serving the Lord, their lives favorably impressed their unbelieving neighbors.
  • The Lord added to the church daily, such as should be saved.-
    The Lord Jesus, Himself, builds His church upon the 'Rock' (ie., upon Himself, Mat 16:15-18). When the church is spiritually healthy and free of division, the Lord is able to do His work unhindered. Sadly, today, it is not unusual for men, who think they are doing God's work, to stand in His way.
       ...such as should be saved.- Does this phrase mean that the Lord purposely excludes some people from salvation? No. The Lord does not want any to perish. He invites all to come to Him (2Pet 3:9; Mat 11:28). The Gospel message, though proclaimed to all, is not received by all (see the parable of the Sower, Mat 13:1-23). Those who respond in faith, to the call of God's Word, are identified as "called out" from the unbelieving world, and are saved from sin and its judgment (v.39). Such believers are added to the church. The word for 'church' {GK=ekklesia} means 'called out ones,' and refers only to those people who are Christ's purchased possessions (Mat 22:14; 1Pet 2:9; Titus 2:14).
    • Salvation is freely offered to everyone: "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord" (v.21; Rom 10:13; Joh 3:16-19).
    • Because God knows all things, He knows beforehand who will believe (Acts 13:48; 1Pet 1:2).
    • Because God answers prayer, His Spirit works to convict the unbelieving hearts of those, for whom we pray, and to whom we have given His Word (Joh 6:44,45).
    • Because God has given all men free will, Christ's sacrifice, which was sufficient to deliver the whole world from sin and judgment, is effective only for the "many" who believe in Him (1Joh 2:2; Mat 26:28; Joh 1:12).
[For more about the 'calling' and 'election' of believers according to God's 'foreknowledge,' see the Book Notes at 1Peter 1:2 and Ephesians 1:3-6.]

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