2. The Holy Spirit Comes (Acts 2)

Audio (58:09)

Detail of Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer (1719-1775), 'Pentecost' (1750s), oil on canvas, 55x33 cm, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest.
Detail of Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer (1719-1775), 'Pentecost' (1750s), oil on canvas, 55x33 cm, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest.

The Day of Pentecost has arrived. The coming of the Holy Spirit is foreshadowed in:

  • The Old Testament prophets (Joel 2:28-29; Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; Ezekiel 39:29)
  • Each of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3;16)
  • Jesus' teaching on the Paraclete in John's Gospel (John 14-16; 20:22),
  • Jesus' command to wait for the Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5); and
  • Jesus' promise of power when the Spirit comes (Acts 1:8).

The Feast of Pentecost is one of the great celebrations of the church calendar, but is widely unknown among non-liturgical churches in our day. Nevertheless, the coming of the Spirit upon the Church marks one of the great sea changes of Bible history, the great hinge event between the Old Covenant and the New.

I hope you'll forgive me, but due to the central importance of Acts 2 to Christian doctrine and understanding of the Spirit's work, this lesson is somewhat longer. (If you are teaching and need to break this lesson into two parts, you might begin part II at Section 2.3 - Peter Calls for Repentance.) I have supplied definitions of important Greek words in footnotes for those who want to make a deeper study of these matters.

2.1 The Holy Spirit Falls on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13; Part I)

The disciples with others -- numbering about 120 in all -- are gathered, praying in an upper room in Jerusalem, when the Spirit falls.

"When the day of Pentecost came40, they were all together in one place."41 (Acts 2:1)

Pentecost (Greek pentēkostē) means "fiftieth" and came to designate the fiftieth day after Passover (Deuteronomy 16:9-10). The Old Testament refers to it as the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22). Jews call it simply "Weeks" (Shavuot). It marks the end of the grain harvest. This seven-week season of harvest begins with the barley harvest during Passover and ends with the wheat harvest on Pentecost. It was a joyful festival when work ceased and grain offerings were offered in the temple in the form of loaves of leavened, salted bread (Leviticus 23:17), along with other offerings.

Pentecost was one of three festivals when, in the early days, males were required to appear in Jerusalem (Exodus 34:23). By New Testament days, however, with Jewish communities spread all over the known world, not all could attend. If it was possible, they made the attempt. For example, when Paul is returning from Macedonia and Asia on his Third Missionary Journey, he is "in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost" (Acts 20:16b). Pilgrimage for this holy festival is the reason Jerusalem is so full of people on this day (Acts 2:5-11) and is part of God's plan to quickly spread the gospel around the known world as these pilgrims returned to their homes.

The Sounds and Sights of Pentecost (Acts 2:2-3)

The assembled believers are inside a house praying. There are a lot of them, so I picture them sitting together, fairly tightly packed. There is the soft sound of murmured prayers and praises. Then, suddenly, the Spirit falls upon them.42

"2  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:2-4)

Let's try to envision it. (For this you might enjoy my monologue, "I Was There at Pentecost" (www.joyfulheart.com/pentecost/pentecost-monologue.htm). When you look at the text, you see three things going on.

1. Sounds (verse 2). They hear the sound of wind that fills the room. It is not wind, but sounds like43 wind. Of course, the Greek word for "Spirit" is pneuma, which is also a word for "breath" and "wind" (though a different Greek word for "wind"44 is used in verse 2). You see this interplay between Spirit, breath, and wind several places in the Bible, such as:

"The Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." (Genesis 1:2, NASB)

"The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life." (Job 33:4)

"The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

"He breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" (John 20:22)

The wind they hear is sent by God.45 But it is not the sound of a gentle breeze refreshing the air in the room. It is blowing powerfully.46 It sounds violent, forceful.47 And the sound isn't from one direction or another. The sound fills the whole house where they are sitting.

Tongues of fire2. Sights (verse 3). They hear wind, but they see what looks like fire.

"They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire
that separated and came to rest on each of them." (Acts 2:3)

It isn't real fire,48 but it is a compelling, convincing vision they all have simultaneously.49 They see what looks like tongues50 of fire (perhaps connected to the main fire but sticking out). As in an actively burning fire, the flames are being constantly divided.51 Here in the room, individual flames come to rest52 upon each person.

3. Filling (verse 4a).

"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4a)

Jesus had told them to expect this filling in John 14, 15, and 16. He had told them to wait for it (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:6). And now it is here. The Greek word for "filled" means "to cause to be completely full."53 This is similar to the analogy of being "baptized" or immersed in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). Overwhelmed, filled, saturated, swimming in the Spirit. You get the picture. (See Lesson 1, Lesson 6, and Lesson 8.)

4. Prophetic Praise (verse 4b). When the Holy Spirit comes into them they react spontaneously with prophetic praise. Let me explain. The text says,

"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues
as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:4)

They begin to speak in other tongues or languages,54 enabled or empowered55 by the Holy Spirit. They begin56 to speak in tongues and continue for some time, until a crowd gathers -- according to God's plan. And what the crowd hears is people speaking "the mighty things of God" in their own languages -- the equivalent of prophetic praise in dozens of languages.

Speaking in Tongues

There is lots of confusion about speaking in tongues. Very simply, speaking in tongues is speaking by the Spirit in a language you don't know. My friends the Pentecostals usually understand speaking in tongues as the "necessary evidence" of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Others disagree and refer to Pentecostalism as "strange fire." Some say tongues is a phenomenon that was only for the times of the early church, that anything seen today is counterfeit. Others embrace the position that tongues can be experienced today, even if they haven't experienced it. But people's opinions aren't really important. What is important is what the Scripture teaches. Stay close to the Scripture and you won't go wrong.

This isn't the place to cover the entire subject. In the Acts of the Apostles we see a hint of tongues again in Samaria (Lesson 6.2, Acts 8:15-17), clearly at Caesarea (Lesson 8.4, Acts 10:44-47), then later in Ephesus (Acts 19:6).57 If you want to dig deeper, I explore aspects of this subject in greater depth in:

I hope these resources help you as you try to understand this phenomenon.

If you are a student of the Bible, you know that people speaking out spontaneously in prophecy is not new. We see it in the Old Testament:

  1. When Moses' spirit comes upon the 70 elders at the tabernacle in the wilderness, they prophesy (Numbers 11:24-29).
  2. After Saul is anointed king, the Spirit comes upon him and he prophesies (1 Samuel 10:6, 10)
  3. The Spirit of God comes upon Saul and his soldiers and they prophesy when they come to arrest David who is staying with the prophets at Naioth. (1 Samuel 19:20-21, 23-24).

Notice that in each of these cases in the Old Testament, the people prophesy spontaneously, not deliberately or on purpose. Gifted prophets, on the other hand, seem to have been able to speak out intentionally by the Spirit. This also seems to be true where Paul teaches on prophesying and speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:15-18, 32. I understand speaking in tongues in our passage as a subset of prophecy, as you'll see when we discuss verse 14.

It's important to keep this in perspective. Praise in a multitude of languages is not the point of this passage, only a sign. The important event is the widespread filling of the Holy Spirit for the first time in history. Keep your eyes on the Spirit's work in the Book of Acts!

Q1. (Acts 2:1-4) When the Holy Spirit falls on the Day of Pentecost, what is the significance of the sound of wind? Of the flames? Of the spontaneous speaking of the praises of God in other languages? How does this filling conform to Old Testament patterns?

Jews Gathered from All Over the World (Acts 2:5, 9-11a)

During special feast days, Jerusalem is packed with pilgrims from all over the known world.

"Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven." (Acts 2:5)

15 Locations of residents of Jerusalem in Acts 2:9-11
15 Locations of residents of Jerusalem in Acts 2:9-11 (larger map)

Fifteen of these regions or peoples are listed:

"9  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11  (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs...." (Acts 2:9-11)

Of course, there were some expatriates from the far corners of the world who called Jerusalem home. But many of the people mentioned in Acts 2:5-11 are staying58 in Jerusalem temporarily for the Feast of Pentecost, and will soon be returning to their homes abroad. Note, Luke specifies that these are not just Jews in name only. These are devout, God-fearing.59

Amazement of the Crowd (Acts 2:6-8, 11b-13)

It is the unnerving sound of people speaking in their own languages that causes these people to quickly gather.

"6  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7  Utterly amazed, they asked: 'Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8  Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?'" (Acts 2:6-8)

In verse 6-7 we read that they are bewildered, utterly amazed. In verse 12 we read that they are "amazed and perplexed." God certainly has got their attention!

They try to figure it out.

"12b They asked one another, 'What does this mean?' 13  Some, however, made fun of them and said, 'They have had too much wine.'" (Acts 2:12b-13)

Some are serious; others make light of it.

Content of the Pentecost Tongues (Acts 2:11b-13)

To understand the significance of tongues-speaking on the Day of Pentecost we must understand what they were saying, the content of their words. Luke tells us the reaction of the foreign visitors:

"We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" (Acts 2:11b)

The believers are speaking languages they do not know, not Hebrew or Aramaic or Greek, but the native languages and dialects of the Jewish Diaspora gathered in Jerusalem for the occasion.60

It seems that many of the tongue-speakers are having an ecstatic experience that they can't control.61 But this is not merely some sort of psychological phenomenon to be diagnosed. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, very similar to inspired prophecy.

The various believers are:

"Declaring the wonders of God" (NIV).
"Telling ... the mighty works of God" (ESV).
"Speaking about God's deeds of power" (NRSV).
"Speak ... the wonderful works of God" (KJV).

The key word here is the Greek noun megaleios, "magnificent, splendid, grand," in the New Testament, "greatness, sublimity," plural, "the mighty deeds."62 We see this kind of exaltation of Yahweh in the Old Testament quite often. For example:

"Remember today ... the discipline of the LORD your God:
his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm." (Deuteronomy 11:2)

"Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
you who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you?" (Psalm 71:19)

"From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me --
holy is his name." (Luke 1:48b-49)

This is a kind of prophetic expression of praise that is common in the Psalms.

Q2. (Acts 2:11-13) Why are these messages in tongues so convincing to the crowds? What is the content of the messages the believers are speaking out in these various languages? In what kind of Bible books do we see this kind of content?

2.2 Peter Addresses the Crowd (Acts 2:14-37)

The hearers are perplexed, with no adequate explanation of this phenomenon. Peter, filled with the Spirit, begins to explain the significance of what they are hearing and seeing.

"14  Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: 'Fellow Jews63 and all of you who live in64 Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15  These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning!"65 (Acts 2:14-15)

He dispenses with the flippant charge of drunkenness. No one is drunk this early in the morning, only hung over.

"16  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

    '17  In the last days,66 God says,
    I will pour out67 my Spirit on all people.68
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,69
    your young men will see visions,70
    your old men will dream dreams.71
    18  Even72 on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
    19  I will show wonders in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
    20  The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great
    and glorious day of the Lord.
    21  And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
    will be saved.'" (Acts 2:14-21, quoting Joel 2:28-32)

Joel speaks of a time coming when the experiences of prophets and seers -- prophecy, visions, prophetic dreams -- will now be experienced by all because the Holy Spirit will come upon all. There is no discrimination between gender or age or class. The recipients are both men and women, young and old. The Spirit will come upon even male and female slaves.73 In addition, this will be a time of signs and wonders in the cosmos, perhaps recalling, for example, the darkness in the middle of the day at Jesus' crucifixion. However, most of these signs seem to look forward to the Second Coming of Christ (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12-13).

Most wonderfully, Joel's prophecy looks forward to a time of Messianic salvation:

"And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Acts 1:21)

Those who are far from the Lord will find him and be saved. The Holy Spirit empowers witnessing and preaching, suggested by Acts 1:8, and will prepare many who will respond in asking God to save them -- all over the world! Hallelujah!

Jesus Attested by Signs and Wonders (Acts 2:22)

Now Peter ties the coming of the Holy Spirit to the powerful signs of Jesus' ministry among them.

"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs,74 which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." (Acts 2:22)

It is interesting that Jesus' miracles are one way God attests to his Son. The key word here is apodeiknymi, "to show forth the quality of an entity, show forth, display."75 Yes, miracles can be counterfeited,76 but the real thing is a powerful evidence of God's power at work. Fast forward to the Gentiles in Caesarea, where Peter also points to Jesus' acts of power and deliverance.

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power77 of the devil, because God was with him." (Acts 10:38)

Culpability for the Crucifixion (Acts 2:23)

The biggest obstacle to people understanding Jesus as the Messiah is the fact that he has been crucified. The greatest argument that he is the Messiah is his resurrection.

"This man was handed over78 to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing79 him to the cross." (Acts 2:23)

Peter asserts that Jesus' crucifixion is not a fluke or a surprise to God, but was part of God's plan from the ages -- "God's set purpose80 and foreknowledge."81 Peter doesn't explain the reason for Jesus' death on the cross in this message -- atonement for our sins. But he places the blame for the crucifixion directly on his hearers and the Romans -- "you, with the help of wicked men,82 put him to death"83 -- and, by extension, to Israel as a whole. By the end of Peter's address, his hearers are deeply convicted of their responsibility in this, "cut to the heart" (verses 36-37).

Jesus' Resurrection Foretold by David (Acts 2:24-31; Psalm 16:8-11)

Peter has dealt with the stumbling block of a crucified Messiah. Now he explains that God has attested to Jesus' Messiahship by raising him from the dead.

"But God raised him [from the dead],84 freeing85 him from the agony86 of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold87 on him." (Acts 2:24)

Peter bolsters his claim of Jesus' resurrection by quoting a well-known Davidic psalm, Psalm 16:8-11:

"25  David said about him:
'I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
26  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
27  because you will not abandon88 me to the grave,89
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28  You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.'" (Acts 2:25-28)

David wasn't talking about himself, Peter asserts. David's decayed body is still in a tomb here at Jerusalem.

"Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day." (Acts 2:29)

Rather, David is speaking prophetically of his descendant the Messiah, the Christ.

"30  But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay." (Acts 2:30-31)

God Raised Jesus from the Dead (Acts 2:32-35; Psalm 110:1)

Again, Peter links Jesus' resurrection to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (My brackets in the NIV quotation is of words that are implied but not specifically in the text.)

"32  God has raised this Jesus [to life], and we are all witnesses [of the fact]. 33  Exalted91 to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised92 Holy Spirit and has poured out93 what you now see and hear." (Acts 2:32-33)

Now Peter refers to Psalm 110 to show how it predicts Jesus' exaltation to the right hand of the Father.

"34  For David did not ascend94 to heaven, and yet he said,

    'The Lord said to my Lord:95
    "Sit at my right hand
    35 until I make your enemies a footstool96 for your feet.'"
    (Acts 2:35-36; quoting Psalm 110:1)

In our day, some have denied that God really raised Jesus physically from the dead. It was a "spiritual resurrection," they say. But it is clear that about 47 days after Jesus' resurrection in Jerusalem, the apostles' assertion that Jesus had been raised from the dead is powerful enough for 3,000 people to believe it and be saved! It is common knowledge in Jerusalem at this time that Jesus had been raised -- Lazarus, too! Their leaders' explanation that the disciples had stolen the body (Matthew 28:13) is recognized as a feeble excuse at best, given these were disciplined Roman guards at his tomb, who could lose their life if it were true. So when Peter declares in Jerusalem, "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact" (verse 32), the result is belief. Faith. And a deep shame for this stain upon their nation.

Deep Conviction (Acts 2:36)

Peter has explained the coming of the Holy Spirit as the outpouring Joel had prophesied to take place in the time of the Messiah. He has demonstrated that God has attested Jesus as Messiah by both the miracles he performed and by raising him from the dead, which he supports by referring to the Psalms. Now he punches it home.

"Therefore let all Israel be assured97 of this:
God has made98 this Jesus,
whom you crucified,
both Lord and Christ.99

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart100 and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:36-37)

The Jewish nation represented by their leaders are on the wrong side of history. They are stained with blood-guiltiness of the most wicked sort. They have murdered the very One God sent to deliver Israel. "You crucified him," Peter declares, "but God has declared him both Lord of all and Messiah."

Peter's message is good, his logic clear. But the Holy Spirit who empowers him has brought his devout hearers under deep conviction for their complicity in Jesus' crucifixion.

Q3. (Acts 2:14-36) What part(s) of Peter's message on the Day of Pentecost was so convicting to those who heard it?

2.3 Peter Calls for Repentance (Acts 2:38-39; Part II)

[If you need to divide Acts 2 into two parts, here is a good place to begin part II.]

So far, Peter has been explaining, quoting prophecy and calling out the Jewish leaders for their complicity. Now there is a heart response. A plaintive question.

"Brothers, what shall we do?"101 (Acts 2:37b)

Repent, Be Baptized, and Receive the Spirit (Acts 2:38-39)

Peter's response is bold and rather amazing!

"38  Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call.'" (Acts 2:38-39)

This is one of the most important verses in the Book of Acts, so let's look at it point by point.

1. Repent. Peter has charged his hearers for the crime of rejecting the Messiah God had sent them, and with either active or silent complicity in the death of this Messiah -- "whom you crucified." He calls them to repentance. "Repent" is metanoeō, literally, "change one's mind." Here it has the sense, "feel remorse, repent, be converted."102 Repentance is more than feeling sorry for some past action -- or for getting caught. It is sorrow combined with faith and a willingness to go a new direction. Our word "convert" carries a similar idea, from Latin convertere, "to turn around, transform."103

Repentance is a decision. An emotional decision, often, but a real decision to go a new direction. It is based on a conviction that our old direction was wrong and that our new direction, following Jesus as Lord, is right. Another word for that conviction is faith, belief. After healing the lame beggar at the Temple, Peter tells the crowd,

"Repent, then, and turn to God,
so that your sins may be wiped out,
that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" (Acts 3:19).

Faith and repentance are interlinked; you can't have true repentance without faith. Often the words "faith," "believe," and "repent" are used interchangeably, since they are so closely related. Recall Paul's answer to the Philippian jailer who asked what he needed to do to be saved:

"Believe in the Lord Jesus,
and you will be saved --
you and your household." (Acts 16:31)

And on the basis of the jailer's faith, Paul and Silas baptized him and his family that very night. Which brings us to the second element of Peter's command.

2. Be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Here, Peter links baptism with "the forgiveness104 of sins," as did John the Baptist105 and the Apostle Paul.106 Baptism is part of an act of repentance that acknowledges the need for cleansing from sins.

Does the act of baptism bring about forgiveness? Or, to ask the question another way, can you be saved if you haven't been baptized? While Christians historically have answered this question in different ways, I believe that, technically, baptism itself doesn't save -- God's grace given in response to faith in our Savior is what saves us.107 While people sometimes try to separate baptism from salvation for theological precision, in the Bible conversion and baptism go together. Typically, the early Christians baptized believers immediately after their conversion.108

You will recall in Acts 1:5 (Lesson 1.1) that Jesus refers to John baptizing with water for the forgiveness of sins.109 Baptism or ritual immersion had been practiced by the Jews for centuries as a ceremonial cleansing from sin or uncleanness in a bath called a mikveh. The mode of baptism used by the early church was immersion,110 following the Jewish custom.111 Did the act of baptism save then? No more than the blood of bulls and goats saved under the Old Covenant. These were outward acts of faith that looked to a spiritual cleansing, a spiritual atonement brought about by Christ. However, nowhere does Scripture tell us that we are to skip baptism just because it points to a spiritual cleansing.112 Being baptized is an important act of faith for this church age.

3. You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. One of the key concepts here is to see the Holy Spirit as a gift, not something we earn by righteous deeds. The Greek noun is dōrea, "that which is given or transferred freely by one person to another, gift, bounty."113

Again, our decision to repent and give one's life to Christ is vital (we can't be saved without it), yet even our decision doesn't save us. We are saved by God's grace, by God's Son who bore the penalty of our sins on the cross. Repentance is our part; new birth by the Holy Spirit is God's part. We open ourselves to the gift by faith, but he bestows that gift and we receive it solely because of his unilateral favor to us.

Some separate the gift of salvation and new birth from the baptism of the Holy Spirit for power, an event subsequent to salvation, they say, accompanied by speaking in tongues. I think this is a false distinction that happens when you divorce the events in the book of Acts from the whole of New Testament teaching on the Holy Spirit.

4. The gift of the Holy Spirit will be given to Jews and Gentiles.

"The promise is for you
and your children
and for all who are far off --
for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:39)

The fourth truth we see in these remarkable verses is that the promise of the Holy Spirit is not just for Jews and for their descendants. The promise is also to those who are "far off."114 The Holy Spirit falls on believing Gentiles in Caesarea on the Palestinian coast (Acts 10:44), in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:21), in Ephesus (Acts 19:6); and Rome, and beyond. God's promise is bound by neither time nor culture. Today, around the world, the Holy Spirit brings spiritual birth and empowerment to people of every race and culture. Hallelujah.

Note, however, that the promise of the Spirit is controlled by God's calling, "for all whom the Lord our God will call.115 Evangelists offer the gospel call to salvation, which many reject (Matthew 22:14). But here, Peter tells us that the Holy Spirit will definitely fall on all those whom "the Lord our God will call," a call which these people do not reject, an "act of God the Father ... in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith."116 I know this gets us "deep in the weeds" of predestination, which is a great mystery to us humans this side of eternity. But we recognize that, just as "the Lord opened [Lydia's] heart to respond to Paul's message" in Philippi (Acts 16:14), it is God's drawing that enables people to come to Him at all (John 6:44).

Peter calls his hearers to repentance and baptism, and then promises that the Holy Spirit will come to them, their children, and all whom the Lord calls. Hallelujah!

Salvation from a Corrupt Generation (Acts 2:40)

Luke explains that he doesn't reproduce the entirety of Peter's message.

"With many other words he warned117 them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.'" (Acts 2:40).

I can see Peter pleading with and exhorting118 the crowd to turn to Christ and save themselves before it is too late. He asks them to look with God's eyes at their corrupt generation and save themselves from it by repenting of its sins.

In the New Testament we often see the current generation described in stark terms.

  • "Corrupt" (NIV, NRSV), "crooked" (ESV), "untoward" (KJV).119
  • "Perverse" (NIV, NRSV, KJV), "twisted" (ESV), "depraved" (NIV).120
  • "Wicked" (NIV, KJV), "evil" (ESV, NRSV).121
  • "Unbelieving" (NIV), "faithless" (ESV, NRSV, KJV).122
  • "Adulterous" (NIV, ESV, NRSV, KJV), "unfaithful" (NJB).123
  • "Sinful."124

Nearly all of these terms are used by Jesus himself to describe the generation of Jews living in Galilee and Judea in the first century. Yes, we know there are a few flagrant sinners among this relatively "moral" culture, but Jesus characterizes the whole generation in these terms. He is especially unrelenting on the religious leaders and Pharisees who knew their Bibles -- like serious Christians today. Many were hypocrites, outwardly moral, but whose hearts had been twisted, deformed by the pride and self-justification and lust for money and sex and power that produces people who are to be pitied.

Paul goes further and includes all of us in this category of lost, corrupt, utterly needy people.

"1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." (Ephesians 2:1-3)

I believe as Peter preached that day for people to turn to Christ and save themselves from a twisted, deformed generation, the Holy Spirit convicted them of the truth of this and caused them to turn en masse to Jesus for mercy -- three thousand of them on this one day!

In the map of Jerusalem, you can see the Pool of Bethesda in the north east corner of Jerusalem, and the pool of Siloam at the southwest corner. Both of these public pools were built as a mikveh, for the purpose of ritual purification.
In the map of Jerusalem, you can see the Pool of Bethesda in the northeast corner of Jerusalem, and the pool of Siloam at the southeast corner. Both of these public pools were built as a mikveh, for the purpose of ritual purification. Larger map.

And it wouldn't surprise me if they all trooped down to the Pool of Bethesda or the Pool of Siloam for a mass baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins -- and that thousands were filled with the Holy Spirit and joy and wholeness for the first time in their lives.

Dear friends, if you look carefully at the culture in your village, your town, your city, you will see what Jesus sees -- corruption. Yes, there are some good people trying their best, but all are needy. We must not conform ourselves to a corrupt culture! Rather, we must create a new culture, the holy Church, in which we can be healed! We turn to that next.

This new culture must be characterized by a dependent humility. Long-time Christians run the real risk of thinking of themselves as good, righteous people to whom God owes salvation, rather than sinners whom God has saved and is healing through his grace.

Q4. (Acts 2:38-40) What about repentance and baptism is vital for forgiveness? To whom is the Holy Spirit promised? What will save us from our corrupt cultures today?

2.4 The Sweet Fellowship of the Primitive Church (Acts 2:41-47)

Now Luke offers a nutshell description of this newly formed congregation in its early days of forming patterns and practices.

"41  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42  They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44  All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:41-47)

In history there have been many, many Christian groups that have been inspired by this passage that describes an idyllic view of the early church -- and rightly so! I think of the "Primitive Baptists" and "the New Testament Church" as titles of associations and denominations. Perhaps you can think of some. If we can only get back to the way it was in the beginning! they say. That is our goal!

What we fail to recognize is that in Acts 2 you had a church of 3,000 baby Christians, many with a legalistic Jewish upbringing, who had the same struggles as people in your own church. And the church was led by twelve still "wet-behind-the-ears" apostles who led the 120-believer core of this church plant. There was a lot of diaper changing in those days. But so long as we recognize that everything is not so idyllic, we can learn from some important characteristics of this early church.

1. They welcome the message (Acts 2:41).

The Greek verb125 suggests showing approval, which leads to glad acceptance of God's word. We are to be people of the Word, ever open to what God will say to us from it, and from the teachers and pastors in our congregations.

2. People are constantly being added (Acts 2:40, 47)

God is constantly adding126 people to the fellowship. Yes, they are evangelizing, but God is doing the calling, the convicting, the adding. When God stops adding people to our fellowship, maybe something has developed in our midst that is less attractive, something that sours people's view of our fellowship. Rather than saying that people don't want to come because they are sinners, perhaps we need to do some careful self-examination. And after deep repentance, we must begin to evangelize with love again. We must not remain insular! Break through afresh in us, O Lord!

3. They devote themselves to the apostles' teaching (Acts 2:42)

The text says "they devoted themselves to...", that is, they earnestly persisted in these actions.127 It wasn't a one-time hunger that left quickly, but a continual seeking. Notice the hunger for teaching.128 I don't know about the rest of the world, but in America there is a widespread tradition of topical sermons designed to entertain and impart an important truth or two. When well done, this kind of preaching is helpful. It is the style adopted in nearly all of the largest churches in the land.

My criticism is that too often we have left "apostolic teaching" and replaced it with easy-to-hear solutions for problems. Helpful solutions, yes. But it is my observation that the fruit of this is a generation of people who don't know the Bible -- nor the actual teaching of the apostles. Yes, I admit that I'm an "old fogey" who longs for days of yore, but unfortunately there's a lot of truth in what I say. We need to train our people to be "people of the Word."

4. They devote themselves to the fellowship (Acts 2:42)

These new disciples are also persistent, devoted to the new fellowship of believers in Jesus that flourished in Jerusalem, to the Koinonia.129 This Greek noun comes from a root koinos, "common," that which concerns all in the group. The newly gathered church shares a "common faith" (Titus 1:4) and a "common salvation" (Jude 3). Personal property isn't held tightly, but is shared freely as "common property" (Acts 2:44; 4:32). More on that in a moment. Most of all, they share a common allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:4-5). He and he alone can unite the Church today (Ephesians 2:14-22).

When I was younger, denominations were more important in America than they seem to be today. My family were Presbyterians going back seven generations to Northern Ireland, and before that to Scotland. My family was part of a Scotch-Irish culture that came to America in the 1700s and settled in western Pennsylvania. Presbyterians married Presbyterians generation after generation. We had a firm doctrinal understanding -- superior to others, or so we thought -- and fellowshipped with people of "like precious faith,"130 by which we meant, other Presbyterians.

Your story might be similar, except your family was Baptist, or Lutheran, or Catholic, or Methodist. Denominations can be helpful. At their best, they help local congregations in times of need and enable mission projects beyond what any single congregation can accomplish. The problem, however, is that, too often, allegiance to a denomination -- or to a local congregation, for that matter -- is based on tradition and doctrine and cultural norms, not on a common love for and allegiance to Jesus Christ himself. Denominationalism can engender pride.

When I became involved in the Charismatic Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, I began to realize that our most precious fellowship is with others who love Jesus as their Lord, regardless of denomination or family tradition or experience.

One of the sweetest fellowships I have experienced was a monthly gathering of pastors from all the churches of the Grass Valley, California area when I pastored there. We had brothers and sisters of nearly every Christian denomination you can think of who loved one another in Jesus. It was wonderful!

The Apostle John writes:

"We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,
so that you also may have fellowship with us.
And our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3)

Our fellowship is centered on Jesus Christ himself as Lord of our congregation -- Lord of the Church -- and we sincerely seek his will to guide us. We love him, obey him, serve him. The Fellowship radiates out from him.

Fellowship finds its root in deep love for one another (John 13:34-35). Without this there is no real fellowship. In the early church, this love was expressed in "having all things in common" (see Lesson 4.2, Acts 4:32).

5. They devote themselves to the breaking of bread together (Acts 2:42)

As a Baptist pastor I heard that Baptists pride themselves on the sumptuous variety and abundance of their potluck dinners. Then I found that Methodists and Lutherans also pride themselves on their potluck dinners.

Yes, potluck dinners promote fellowship, but that's not what Luke means in Acts 2:42. "The breaking of bread" is Christian-shorthand for celebrating the Lord's Supper together.131 The breaking of bread at the beginning of the meal stands for the whole meal -- bread and cup. The idea of the breaking of bread began, of course, when Jesus broke bread at the Passover Meal at the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 10:16).

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'" (Luke 22:19; cf. Mark 14:22-24; Matthew 26:26-28)

Luke uses the same phrase to describe a church gathering at Troas: "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread...." (Acts 20:7). (Sunday was the day these early Gentile Christian congregations would commonly meet; 1 Corinthians 16:2). We read something similar in The Didache, an early Christian document dated in the late first century:

"But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread...."132

Likewise, Ignatius of Antioch (died 140 AD) exhorts the Ephesian church in "breaking one and the same bread," a clear reference to the Lord's Supper.133

Note in verses 46-47 they also partook of the Lord's supper in house churches where they would eat together.

"46b They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God...." (Acts 2:46b--47a)

What does it mean to devote yourself to the breaking of the bread? It refers, I believe, to both a reverence for the value of the Lord's Supper and thus a desire to partake of it frequently. Various groups have their traditional frequencies -- weekly (Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran, Christian Churches), monthly (Presbyterian, Congregational and some Baptists), twice-annually (some Baptists), or not at all (Quaker). But our verse tells us to "persist in," "devote ourselves to" the Lord's Supper. This may involve a greater frequency than you're used to. For more on this, see my study -- Lord's Supper: Meditations for Disciples (JesusWalk, 2006, www.jesuswalk.com/lords-supper/).

6. They devote themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42)

They spent time praying together.134 We see this prior to Pentecost (Acts 1:14), and especially after Pentecost (Acts 2:42; 3:1; 4:31; 6:4; 12:12). Part of that prayer is in the temple where they gathered daily

"Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts." (Acts 2:46a)

Peter and John go up to the temple for the prescribed times of temple prayer (Acts 3:1). Paul exhorts us when we gather:

"Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:18b-20)

We often separate singing from other parts of the service, but singing songs of praise and thanksgiving is prayer!

One of the casualties of "seeker sensitive" worship styles is a lessening of prayer in the congregation. In many parts of our world, the weekly "prayer meeting" has given way to television watching. We need to examine our devotion to prayer as a congregation and stop making excuses for our lack of prayer.

7. They care for the needy in their midst (Acts 2:44-45)

We'll discuss this in greater depth in Lesson 4.2 (Acts 4:32-5:11). We note that they had everything in "common." They held onto their possession lightly. The word for "common, communal" is the adjective koinos,135 closely related to the noun koinōnia, "fellowship, sharing". What kind of fellowship do we have if we share nothing with one another?

The result of these practices was that they are looked upon favorably by the people (Acts 2:47a). The people honor them because they are sincere and care for the poor. They hadn't yet become judgmental, or self-righteous, or politically aligned -- things that often cause our neighbors to look down on believers in our day.

Of course, Christians are not always viewed favorably. The enemy tries to discredit the church -- it isn't all self-inflicted. In some Mediterranean cities they were viewed as "atheists," since they didn't worship the traditional Roman and Greek gods, or as "cannibals" because their neighbors misunderstood the Lord's Supper. On the other hand, churches were known for caring for the poor and dying, taking in orphan children, etc., which was a marked contrast with the practices of pagans in Gentile cities.

Their number also grew daily (Acts 2:47b). At this time, the church was growing rapidly. Part of this was enthusiastic telling of what Jesus was doing in their midst -- signs and wonders, men delivered from drunkenness, blessings, etc. It was a heady time. In our day, we should expect growth in populated areas that have few vital churches. If you can't grow in this circumstance, then pray for God to give your church reproductive healing. If people are moving away from your town to the city, or your area is oversaturated with churches, don't feel guilty if numbers don't come to the Lord in your church.

These verses give a number of important characteristics of the early church. We'll be looking at other characteristics of the early church in future lessons, but these get us off to a good start.

Q5. (Acts 2:42-47) What characteristics of the early church in Acts 2:42-47 are necessary for healthy congregations in our day? In which of these characteristics is your congregation most healthy? Most unhealthy?

Lessons for Disciples

As we look carefully at what Luke records under the inspiration of the Spirit, we can learn a lot that we can apply to our lives.

  1. When the Holy Spirit is poured out on the Day of Pentecost, the sound of wind represents the Holy Spirit (wind = spirit in both Hebrew and Greek). The tongues of fire represent the Shekinah glory of God touching each person (Acts 2:1-3).
  2. A number of words are used interchangeably to describe the Spirit's coming -- filled, baptized, come upon, receive, etc. (See Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 6, and Lesson 8.)
  3. Spontaneous prophecy when the Spirit comes upon a person is seen in the Old Testament (Numbers 11:24-29; 1 Samuel 10:6, 10; 1 Samuel 19:20-21, 23-24).
  4. Peter speaks to the crowd interpreting the coming of the Spirit and tongues as the outpouring prophesied by Joel (Acts 2:15-21; quoting Joel 2:28-32).
  5. In response to the Spirit's coming, the believers speak of God's mighty deeds in languages they don't know, but that are known by the Jews gathered in Jerusalem for the festival (Acts 2:4-6, 11). Tongues here can be considered a subset of prophecy, especially since it is not gibberish, but telling the mighty deeds of God (Acts 2:11).
  6. Repentance is a necessary precursor for forgiveness. Baptism is a sign of commitment and of washing away of sins -- forgiveness (Acts 2:38).
  7. Peter says the gift of the Spirit is for many, many people hereafter -- even those "afar off," that is, the Gentiles (Acts 2:39).
  8. It is necessary to repent to save ourselves from the corruption of our culture (Acts 2:40).
  9. Characteristics of the early church include: (1) welcoming the message, (2) constant growth, (3) devotion to being taught, (4) commitment to fellowship, (5) frequent celebrations of the Lord's Supper, (6) much time in prayer, and (7) care for the needy among them.

The Early Church: Acts 1-12, book formats
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Lord, we thank you together for the blessed Holy Spirit who fills our lives and allows us to commune with you. I pray that you would push us to explore the heights and depths of the Spirit in our lives, rather than be content with a surface appreciation. And thank you for our congregations. May they be hotbeds of love, of fellowship, of prayer, of communion. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:4, NIV)

" 'In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy." (Acts 2:17--18, NIV)

"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36, NIV)

"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38-39, NIV)

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Acts 2:42, NIV)


References and Abbreviations

[40] "Came" (NIV), "arrived" (ESV), "had come" (NRSV, NASB), "had fully come" (KJV) is symplēroō, "to fill completely," here, figurative of time, "to arrive as the timely moment for an event to take place, fulfill, approach, come" (BDAG 959, 2). See Luke 9:51 for a similar usage.

[41] "All together in one place" (NIV, ESV, NRSV, NASB), "all with one accord in one place" (KJV). "Together" is the adverb homou, "pertaining to being together in the same place, together." Also in John 21:2. The KJV version follows the Byzantine manuscripts that read homothumadon, "one accord." However, homou is attested by the earliest manuscripts (א A B C* etc.). "In one place" is three words, the preposition epi, marker of presence or occurrence near an object or area, "at, near" (BDAG 36, 2a), autos, "same", and the definite article.

[42] The expression of the Spirit "falling" on someone is also used later in Acts: "The Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning" (Acts 11:15, ESV), using the aorist active of the verb epipiptō, "fall upon" (BDAG 37, 2). The expression is also used in Acts 8:16; 10:44; and 19:6.

[43] "Like" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "as of" (KJV) is hōsper, "just (as)," marker of similarity between events and states" (BDAG 1107, b).

[44] "Wind" here is the noun pnoē, "relatively rapid movement of air, wind" (BDAG 838, 1).

[45] "Out of heaven" is the preposition ek, and ouranos, "the vaulted expanse of the Sky with all the things visible in it" (Thayer, 465).

[46] "Blowing" (NIV), "rushing/rush" (ESV, KJV, NRSV) is the present passive participle of pherō, "to cause to follow a certain course in direction or conduct, move out of position, drive" the passive can be variously rendered: "be moved, be driven, let oneself be moved" (BDAG 1051, 3c).

[47] "Violent" (NIV, NRSV), "mighty" (ESV, KJV) is the adjective biaios, "pertaining to being violent or strong in use of force, violent, forcible" (BDAG 176, b).

[48] "Of fire" (NIV), "as of fire" (ESV, NRSV), "like as of fire" (KJV) uses hōsei, "marker denoting comparison, as, like (something) like," literally, "as if" (BDAG 1106, 1).

[49] "Saw" (NIV), "appeared" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is the aorist passive of horaō, "become visible, appear" (BDAG 719, A1d).

[50] "Tongues" is glossa, "organ of speech, tongue," figurative of forked flames (Acts 2:3; Isaiah 5:24).

[51] "Separated" (NIV), "divided" (ESV, NRSV), "cloven" (KJV), "distributing" (NASB) is the middle/passive present participle of diamerizō, "to divide into separate parts, divide, separate," here, probably in the imager of the jagged effect produced by a flame." But it could have the sense, "to distribute objects to a series of persons, distribute." Here some see the sense, "like tongues of fire distributed among them" (BDAG 233, 1 and 2). The present tense can carry the idea of continuous action.

[52] "Came to rest" (NIV), "rested" (ESV, NRSV), "sat" (KJV) is kathizō, "seat," then "sit down," then "to be or remain in a place," intransitive, "reside, settle, stay, live" (BDAG 492, 4).

[53] "Filled" is the aorist indicative of pimplēmi, "to cause to be completely full, fill, fulfill" (BDAG 813, 1aβ).

[54] "Speak" is the present active infinitive of the very common verb laleō, "to utter words, talk, speak, express oneself" (BDAG 582, 2aβ). "Other" is the adjective heteros, "other," here, "pertaining to being dissimilar in kind or class from all other entities, another, different." Our verse may mean either "speak with different (even other than their own) tongues" or "speak in foreign languages" (cf. Isaiah 28:11) (BDAG 399, 2). "Tongues" (NIV, ESV), "languages" (NRSV) is the plural of the noun glossa, "organ of speech, tongue," here, "a body of words and systems that makes up a distinctive language, language, tongue" (BDAG 201, 2a).

[55] "Enabled" (NIV), "gave utterance" (ESV, KJV), "gave ability" (NRSV) is two words, (1) the indicative imperfect of didōmi, "give," here, "to cause to happen," especially in reference to physical phenomena, "produce, make, cause, give" (BDAG 242, 4); and (2) the present infinitive of apophthengomai, "to express oneself orally, with focus on sound rather than content, speak out, declare" (BDAG 125). This is a compound verb, from apo-, "finishing, completion" + phthengomai, "speak, utter, proclaim."

[56] "Began" is the aorist indicative of archō, "to initiate an action, process, or state of being, begin," here, literally, to denote what one begins to do" (BDAG 140, 2aα).

[57] See my Apostle Paul: Passionate Discipleship, Lesson 7, www.jesuswalk.com/paul/07_ephesus.htm

[58] "Staying" (NIV), "dwelling" (ESV, KJV), "living" (NRSV) is the present active participle katoikeō, "to live in a locality for any length of time, live, dwell, reside, settle (down)" (BDAG 534, 1a).

[59] "God-fearing" (NIV), "devout" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is eulabēs, "devout, God-fearing" (BDAG 407).

[60] "Own language" in verse 6 and 8 is the adjective idios, "one's own" with the noun dialektos (from which we get our word "dialect"), "language" of a nation or a region" (unless a regional variety of a language is meant) (BDAG 232). "Own languages" in verse 11 is the possessive pronoun hēmeteros, "our" (BDAG 438) and the plural of glōssa, "a body of words and systems that makes up a distinctive language, language, tongue" (BDAG 201, 2a).

[61] The tongues mentioned in 1 Corinthians seemed to be under the control of the believers, that is, not ecstatic (1 Corinthians 14:13-19, 27-28).

[62] Megaleios, BDAG 622.

[63] "Fellow Jews" (NIV) is literally, "men of Judea" (ESV, NRSV, KJV), using the noun andres, "males." Ioudaios refers in general to "one who identifies with beliefs, rites, and customs of adherents of Israel's Mosaic and prophetic tradition." In our verse it is a noun, "one who is Judean (Jewish), with focus on adherence to Mosaic tradition, a Judean" (BDAG 478, 2a).

[64] "Live in" (NIV, NRSV), "dwell in" (ESV, KJV) is katoikeō, "to live in a locality for any length of time, live, dwell, reside, settle (down)" (BDAG 534, 1a).

[65] "The third hour of the day" (ESV, KJV), corresponds to "nine o'clock in the morning" (NRSV, cf. NIV).

[66] "In the last days" uses two words: eschatos, "last" and hēmera, "day." Eschatos is "pertaining to being the final item in a series, least, last" in time (BDAG 398, 2b). Here, "the last day (of this age)" (Hēmera, BDAG 438, 3bβ). The Septuagint reads, "It shall come to pass afterward (meta tauta), similar to the Hebrew text, using ʾaḥar, used as an adverb, "afterwards." The interpretation depends on the context, whether "after" or in "last days." "Obviously all eschatology is future, but not all future is eschatology"(TWOT #68b).

[67] "Pour out" in verses 17 and 18 is ekcheō, of liquids, "cause to be emitted in quantity, pour out," here figuratively, "cause to fully experience, pour out," of the Holy Spirit which, according to Joel's prophecy, is to pour down on people like rain (Joel 2:23), found thus also in Acts 2:33; 10:45; Titus 3:5-6; cf. Romans 5:5 (BDAG 312, 2).

[68] "Flesh" is sarx, "flesh," here is, "one who is or becomes a physical being, living being with flesh, person, human being," plural with pan, "every person, everyone" (BDAG 915, 3a).

[69] "Prophesy," in verses 17 and 18 is the future of the Greek noun prophēteuō, "to proclaim an inspired revelation, prophesy" (BDAG 890, 1). The corresponding Hebrew verb is nābāʾ, "prophesy."

[70] "See visions" is two words, the verb horaō, "see," here, "to perceive by the eye, catch sight of, notice" (BDAG 719, A1b); and the plural of the noun horasis, "eye," here, "vision in a transcendent mode" (BDAG 713, 3). The corresponding Hebrew is ḥizzāyôn, "visions," from ḥāzâ, "look, see, behold."

[71] "Dream dreams" is the verb enypniazomai, "to dream" (BDAG 342), and the plural of the noun enypnion, "a dream" (BDAG 342). The corresponding Hebrew noun is ḥălôm, "dream," from the verb ḥālam, "to dream."

[72] "Even" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), not in KJV (though not because of a textual variant apparently) in verse 18 is ge, which serves to "focus the attention upon a single idea, and place it, as it were, in the limelight, "at least, even, indeed." Here with the combination of kai ge, intensive, "even" (BDAG 190, bγ). The corresponding Hebrew word is gam, "again, alike, likewise."

[73] Doulos, "male slave," Hebrew ʿebed, "slave, servant"; doulē, "female slave," Hebrew šipḥâ, "maid servant," a female slave to a married woman (TWOT #2442a).

[74] "Miracles" (NIV, KJV), "mighty works" (ESV), "deeds of power" (NRSV) is dynamis, "power, capability, here, "a deed that exhibits ability to function powerfully, deed of power, miracle, wonder" (BDAG 263, 3). "Wonders" is the plural of teras, "something that astounds because of transcendent association, prodigy, portent, omen, wonder" (BDAG 999). "Signs" is the plural of semeion, "sign," here, "an event that is an indication or confirmation of intervention by transcendent powers, miracle, portent" (BDAG 920, 2aα).

[75] Apodeiknymi, BDAG 108, 2. Generally, "direct attention" to a specific object.

[76] Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; Revelation 13:13; 16:14; 19:20.

[77] The present passive participle of katadynasteuō, "oppress, exploit, dominate" (BDAG 516).

[78] "Handed over" (NIV, NRSV), "delivered (up)" (ESV, KJV) is ekdotos, "pertaining to being handed over, given up, delivered up" (BDAG 301).

[79] "Nailing him to the cross" (NIV), "crucified (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is the aorist participle of prospēgnymi, "fix/fasten to," here absolutely, "nail to (a cross)" (BDAG 884), used only here in the New Testament.

[80] "God's set purpose" (NIV), "definite plan" (ESV, NRSV), "determinate counsel" (KJV), "predetermined plan" (NASB) is two words, the perfect passive participle of horizō, "to make a determination about an entity, determine, appoint, fix, set" (BDAG 723, 2aα); and boulē, "plan, purpose, intention," here, "that which one decides, resolution, decision" (BDAG 181, 2b).

[81] "Foreknowledge" is prognosis (from which we get our word "prognosis"), "predetermination," of God's omniscient wisdom and intention (BDAG 866, 2), also found in 1 Peter 1:2 ("chosen according the B foreknowledge of God the Father").

[82] "Wicked men" (NIV), "wicked hands" (KJV), "lawless men" (ESV), "men outside the law" (NRSV), "godless men" (NASB) is anomos, "pertaining to violating moral standards, lawless," here with reference to those who are outside Israelite legal tradition (BDAG 86, 3b).

[83] "Put to death" (NIV, NASB), "killed" (ESV, NRSV), "slain" (KJV) is anaireō, "remove, take away," here, "to get rid of by execution, do away with, destroy," mostly of killing by violence, in battle, by execution, murder, or assassination (BDAG 64, 2).

[84] "Raised from the dead" (NIV), "raised up" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is anistēmi, "raise up," here, "to raise up by bringing back to life, raise, raise up," especially of the dead (BDAG 83, 2).

[85] "Freeing/freed" (NIV, NRSV), "loosed/loosing" (ESV, KJV), "putting an end to" (NASB) is the aorist participle of luō, "loose, untie," here, "to set free something tied or similarly constrained, set free, loose, untie," then," to do away with, destroy, bring to an end, abolish" (BDAG 607, 4).

[86] "Agony" (NIV, NASB), "pangs" (ESV), "pains" (KJV) is ōdin, "experience of pains associated with childbirth," here, "great pain (as in giving birth)" (BDAG 1102, bα).

[87] "Keep its hold" (NIV), "held" (ESV), "held in its power" (NRSV, NASB), "holden" (KJV) is the present infinitive of krateō, "to take control of someone or something, seize, control," here, "to control in such a way that something does not happen, hold back or restrain from, hinder in" (BDAG 564, 5).

[88] "Abandon" is enkataleipō, "to separate connection with someone or something, forsake, abandon, desert" (BDAG 273, 2). "Abandon" in Hebrew is the Qal imperfect of ʿāzab, "leave, forsake, loose" (TWOT #1594).

[89] "Hades" is hadēs, the name of the god of the nether world, 'Hades', then "the nether world, Hades," as place of the dead (BDAG 19, 1). In the psalm, the Hebrew word is sheʾôl, "sheol, grave, hell, pit." Both good men and bad men go there. It can be held that originally the word meant just "the grave" and became specialized for "hell." It is controversial among scholars. One view is that she'ôl does not describe the place where the souls of men go, but the place where their bodies go, the grave. Where their souls go is learned from other Scriptures. This view is attractive. A good number of verses can be collected where the meaning "grave" seems to be demanded (R. Laird Harris, TWOT #2303c).

[90] "Corruption" is diaphthora, "the condition or state of rotting or decaying, destruction, corruption," of the body (BDAG 239). In the psalm, Hebrew "corruption" is shaḥat, "pit, destruction, grave." The LXX translates with words for corruption or destruction eleven times, death five times, and pit three times. It is possible that the word "pit" came to mean "the grave" -- graves in those times were usually caves dug into the rock -- and then was extended to mean the corruption of the grave. Or there may have been two words originally. It seems clear that sometimes shaḥat refers to the grave and its decay (R. Laird Harris, TWOT #2343.1c).

[91] "Exalted" is hypsoō, "lift up," here, "to cause enhancement in honor, fame, position, power, or fortune, exalt" (BDAG 1046, 2).

[92] "Promised/promise" is epangelia, "declaration to do something with implication of obligation to carry out what is stated, promise, pledge, offer" (BDAG 355, 1bγ).

[93] "Poured out" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "shed forth" (KJV) is the aorist of ekcheō (as in verse 18), "cause to fully experience, pour out" (BDAG 312, 2).

[94] "Ascend" is anabainō, "to be in motion upward, go up, ascend" (BDAG 58, 1aβ), used of Jesus' ascension in John 3:13; 6:62; Ephesians 4:8, 10. Acts 1:9 uses two passive verbs, epairō, "lifted up" and hypolambanō, "took". Luke 24:51 uses two other verbs, diistēmi, "parted" and the passive of anapherō, "take up." The noun form "ascension" is not used in Scripture, so there is no technical language in New Testament times that came to be used for Jesus' ascension.

[95] The Hebrew text of Psalm 110:1 reads: "The LORD [Yahweh] said to my lord [Adonai]...." Peter emphasizes that Jesus seated at the right hand of Yahweh. Jesus points out that the second "lord" refers not to David, but to one who is greater than David, the Son of God (Luke 20:41-44).

[96] "Footstool" is hypopodion. "Make someone a footstool for someone" means to subject one person to another, so that the other can put a foot on the subject's neck (BDAG 1040).

[97] "Assured" (NIV), "for certain/with certainty" (ESV, NASB, NRSV), "assuredly" (KJV) is asphalōs, "pertaining to being certain, assuredly, certainly, of intellectual and emotive aspects," here, "know without a doubt." (BDAG 147, 2).

[98] "Made" is poieō, "to undertake or do something that brings about an event, state, or condition, do, cause, bring about, accomplish, prepare," here with a focus on causality. (BDAG 840, 2hβ).

[99] "Lord" is kyrios, "one who is in a position of authority, lord, master." (BDAG 577, 2bβℵ). "Christ" is christos, "fulfiller of Israelite expectation of a deliverer, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ" (BDAG 1091, 1).

[100] "Cut" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "pricked" (KJV), "pierced" (NASB) is katanussomai, "be pierced, stabbed," figurative of the feeling of sharp pain connected with anxiety, remorse, etc. (BDAG 523).

[101] Literally, they ask, "What to do?" using the subjunctive mood of poieō, "to do." This is the Deliberative Subjunctive," in which "the speaker asks what he is to do, or what is to be done; it concerns not fact but possibility, desirability, or necessity" (Ernest De Witt Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek (Third edition; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1898), §169c).

[102] Metanoeō, (BDAG 640, 2), from meta-, "exchange, transfer" + noeō, "to understand."

[103] From com-, "with, together" + vertere, "to turn."

[104] "Forgiveness (NIV, ESV), "forgiven" (NRSV), "remission" (KJV) is aphesis, "the act of freeing, release," here, "the act of freeing from an obligation, guilt, or punishment, pardon, cancellation," here, "forgiveness of sins," that is cancellation of the guilt of sin" (BDAG 155, 2). "For" (NIV, ESV, KJV, NASB), "so that" (NRSV) translate the very common and often nuanced preposition eis, "into, unto," here, as a marker of goals, to denote purpose, "in order to, to," here "for forgiveness of sins, so that sins might be forgiven" (see also Matthew 26:28; cf. Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3 (BDAG 290, 4f).

[105] Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3.

[106] Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; perhaps Titus 3:5; cf. Hebrews 10:22.

[107] Ephesians 2:8-9. Consider the salvation of the thief on the cross by faith, but without baptism (Luke 22:42-43). Notice that in Caesarea, the believers were saved -- evidenced by the Holy Spirit upon them -- and then baptized (Acts 10:44-48; 11:17).

[108] Acts 2:41; 8:12, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16.

[109] "For the forgiveness of sins" (Luke 3:3; Mark 1:4-5; cf. Matthew 3:6).

[110] "Be baptized" is the imperative of the verb baptizō, generally, "to put or go under water," here, "to use water in a rite for purpose of renewing or establishing a relationship with God, plunge, dip, wash, baptize." We discussed this in Lesson 1 on Acts 1:4 when we talked about the analogy of baptism.

[111] We're not told in Scripture whether children were baptized, or participated in the Jewish mikveh that Christian baptism is patterned after, though we know that whole households were sometimes baptized (Acts 16:32). The first reference we have to infant baptism is by Irenaeus in about 180 AD (Against Heresies, 2.22.4).

[112] The Quakers, or the Society of Friends, hold up the importance of "spiritual baptism" (Ephesians 4:5, "one baptism"), and, early in their history, dropped the physical baptism of believers.

[113] Dōrea, BDAG 26. It is used of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38; 8:20; 10:45; John 4:10; and Hebrews 6:4. A related word dōron, "gift, present" (BDAG 26), is used of the gift of salvation in the famous passage on salvation by grace in Ephesians 2:8-9. Charis, "grace, favor, goodwill," can be used in the sense of "practical application of goodwill, (a sign of) favor, gracious deed/gift, benefaction" (BDAG, 1079, 3). Dōrea and dōron tend to emphasize the idea "to present, bestow" (dōreō), that which is transferred, while charis emphasizes the favor that motivates the giving. Charis is not used explicitly of the gift of the Spirit in the New Testament.

[114] "Far off" is literally, "at a distance," the preposition eis and the noun makros, "long," here, "pertaining to being relatively distant, far away, distant" (BDAG 613, 2). Macros can also pertain to "taking a relatively long time, long" (meaning 1), but here it probably refers to distance as does Acts 1:8.

[115] "Call" is proskaleō, of a call issued for presence with the speaker, "summon, call on, call to oneself, invite" then, in a transferred sense of God's invitation to share in the benefits of salvation "call (to)" God or Christ, to faith, etc. (BDAG 881, 1b). It is a compound verb, from pros, "direction or motion to a goal" + kaleō, "call, invite."

[116] A definition of "effective call" by Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), p. 693.

[117] "Warned" (NIV), "bore witness" (ESV), "testified" (NRSV, cf. KJV) is diamartyromai, "testify of, bear witness to," here, "to exhort with authority in matters of extraordinary importance, frequently with reference to higher powers and/or suggestion of peril, solemnly urge, exhort, warn" (BDAG 233, 2).

[118] "Pleaded" (NIV) "exhorted" (ESV, NRSV) is parakaleō, "to urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage" (BDAG 765, 2).

[119] Acts 1:40; Philippians 2:15. Skolios, "curved, bent," here, "pertaining to being morally bent or twisted, crooked, unscrupulous, dishonest" (BDAG 930, 2).

[120] Matthew 17:17; Luke 9:41; Philippians 2:15. Diastrephō, "deform," then "to cause to depart from an accepted standard of moral or spiritual values, make crooked, pervert" (BDAG 237, 2).

[121] Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Luke 11:29. Ponēros, "pertaining to being morally or socially worthless, wicked, evil, bad, base, worthless, vicious, degenerate" (BDAG 851, 1aα).

[122] Matthew 17:17; Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41. Apistos, "without faith, disbelieving, unbelieving" (BDAG 104, 2).

[123] Matthew 12:39; 16:4, Mark 8:38. Moichalis, adjective, "adulterous, unfaithful" (BDAG 656, b).

[124] Mark 8:38. Hamartōlos, "sinful," pertaining to behavior or activity that does not measure up to standard moral or cultic expectations (BDAG 51, a).

[125] "Accepted" (NIV), "received" (ESV), "welcomed" (NRSV), "gladly received" (KJV) is the aorist participle of the verb apodechomai, "to show approval by accepting, accept" something" (BDAG 109, 2), a compound word from apo-, "from outside" + dechomai, "take, receive, welcome."

[126] "Added" in verses 41, 47, 5:14; and 11:24 is prostithēmi, "to add to something that is already present or exists, add, put to" (BDAG 885, 1b).

[127] "Devoted" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "continued steadfastly" (KJV) is the present active participle of proskartereō, "to persist in something," here, "busy oneself with, be busily engaged in, be devoted to" (BDAG 881, 2a). We saw this word in Acts 1:14, the believers devoted themselves to prayer.

[128] "Teaching" is didachē, "teaching," here, "the content of teaching, teaching" (BDAG 241, 2), used this way also in Acts 5:28 and 13:12.

[129] "Fellowship" is koinonia, "close association involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, fellowship, close relationship" (BDAG 553, 1).

[130] 2 Peter 1:1b, KJV.

[131] Bruce notes, "The 'breaking of bread' here denotes something more than the ordinary partaking of food together: the regular observance of the Lord's Supper is no doubt indicated" (Bruce, Acts, p. 79). So I. Howard Marshall, "Lord's Supper," in Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (eds.), Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (DPL; InterVarsity, 1993), p. 570.

[132] Didache 14:1.

[133] Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians, 20.

[134] "To prayer" (NIV), "the prayers" (ESV, NRSV), "in prayers" (KJV) is the dative plural of proseuchē, "petition addressed to deity, prayer" (BDAG 878, 1).

[135] Koinos, "pertaining to being of mutual interest or shared collectively, communal, common" (BDAG 1a).

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