August 29, 2013

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe


Topic #II: The Church in Jerusalem, Acts 2.1-8.3

Subtopic A: The Church is Born (Acts 2.1-2.41)                    

        Secondary Topic 3: The Reaction to Peter’s Sermon (Acts 2.37-2.41)                      



Lesson II.A.3.b: 3,000 Saved



Acts 2.41 (KJV)

41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.





Commentary


41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.


Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: 

“Then they that gladly received his word” denotes that the Jews accepted Peter’s doctrine with great joy and gladness, which he preached to them. The Syriac version adds, "and believed," making it read, “Then they that gladly received his word, and believed, were baptized.” That which they “gladly received and believed” was that which Peter said concerning repentance and baptism, and especially concerning the pardoning of sin through Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Ghost; and concerning the promise of Christ, and salvation by him. They were ready and willing to receive the Gospel and the doctrine that went along with it; they were made a willing people in the day of God's power, and now that promise, or prophecy, in Psalm 110:3 had been accomplished in a remarkable manner—“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth” (Ps. 110.3). These Jewish converts were the dew of Christ's youth. The word "youth" denotes a period of life distinguished for strength and activity; the "dew" is a constant emblem of whatever is refreshing and strengthening. The Messiah, then, is pictured leading His people, who are represented as continually in the vigor of youth, refreshed and strengthened by the early dew of God's grace and Spirit. “In the day of thy power,” is a time when God’s people freely offer themselves (Romans 12:1) in His service, and enlist under His banner; when there are instances of His powerful and effective grace. But not all that heard this sermon of Peter's received his doctrine in this manner, only some of them; and this is confirmed by the Syriac and Arabic versions where this clause is rendered, "and some of them readily received", which shows the discriminating grace of God in this instance. And as soon as they had received the word, and were gladdened and comforted by it, they were baptized; in water, by immersion, because there was plenty of water conveniently available in Jerusalem, and in the temple, where the apostles were now, in private houses, in the public baths, and in the numerous pools. Note the sequence of events; they were baptized and then added to the church



and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

 Those who acknowledged a readiness to embrace the offer of salvation were baptized on the same day. Their conversion was instantaneous. The appeal made to them was for them to immediately yield themselves to God; and they responded by making their profession of faith in Christ, and the ordinance which sealed their profession was administered without delay. The number of converts is given as “three thousand souls (persons),” who were added to the company of disciples, or to the followers of Christ. These 3000 persons left the scribes and Pharisees, and put themselves under the teaching of the apostles, professing the Christian doctrine and acknowledging that Christ was come, and that he who was recently crucified by the Jews was the promised and only Messiah; and in this faith they were baptized. They were baptized in the name of Jesus—“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” (Acts 2:38)—because this was the condition of a Jew's conversion; and when a Jew had received baptism in this name he was excluded from all fellowship with his countrymen; and no man would have forfeited such privileges, who did not have the deepest and surest conviction. This baptism was a very powerful means to prevent their apostasy; they had, by receiving baptism in the name of Jesus, renounced Judaism, and all the political advantages connected with it; and they found it indispensably necessary to make the best use of that holy religion which they had received in its place.  



These 3000 were not all converted under the preaching of one apostle, or in one place, or by one person. All the apostles preached, some in one language, and some in another; and not in only one house. Out of the multitudes that heard the speakers, 3000 were converted; and if one in five was converted it must have been a very large proportion. The truth may be that the apostles preached in different parts of the city, perhaps each in a different part, during the course of that day; and those 3000 converts were the fruits of the combined efforts of these holy men. 



There have always been some who have found it hard to believe three thousand could have been baptized by the apostles in one day. But we are not told that the apostles were the only baptizers, or even baptized at all. There were at least 120 disciples there; perhaps even more on this great day. Perhaps the Seventy were all there. But the apostles alone could have performed the ordinance. It would require each apostle baptize 250 persons. Sixty persons have been immersed easily in an hour by one person. At this rate the whole work could have been accomplished by twelve men in about four hours. The renowned Chrysostom, aided by his elders, baptized (immersed) 3,000 in a day in A.D. 404. It is an established fact there were ample facilities to baptize that number, since there were numerous large pools which encircled the city; some are still in use, and the remains of others can be seen in present day Jerusalem; they afforded ample means for the celebration of the rite of baptism. The habits of the East, as every traveler knows, would present no obstacle to such a use of the public reservoirs.''



This was the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit under the preaching of the gospel; and it shows that such scenes are to be expected in the church, even today, and that the gospel is able to perform a rapid and mighty change in the hearts of people.


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