August 12, 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.a: People Cut to the Heart



Acts 2.37-40 (KJV)

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. 

40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 



Introduction


We have seen the wonderful effect of the pouring out of the Spirit in the influence it had on Peter and the other preachers of the gospel. Peter, in all his life, never spoke at such length as he did now, and with such volume, eloquence, and power. We are now going to see another blessed fruit of the pouring out of the Spirit in the influence it had upon the hearers of the gospel. From the first words of that marvelous message, it appeared that there was a divine energy going along with it, and it was mighty through the power of God, to do great and wonderful things: thousands were immediately converted by saving faith; it was due to the rod of God’s strength sent out of Zion: “The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 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” (Psalms 110:2-3; KJV). The rod of thy strength is a poetic expression for His ruling power. The ruling power of the Messiah was to go forth from Jerusalem, Zion’s city of our God. The rule and reign of Jesus Christ during this age is not one of power and bloodshed, but rather of conquering love and grace. One day, however, when the curtain of God’s grace comes crashing down and the curtain of His wrath is raised, “… he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Rev 19:15). Because of the power of the gospel and of the mighty hand of the Lord God, the servants of the Saviour will be willingly ruled by the Messiah. Men under the influence of the gospel do not submit themselves to the service of the King out of fear, but in the beauties of holiness, i.e., in holy obedience to the one who is both Priest and King. Just as the dew falls fresh every morning and is perpetually resupplied, so too are those who fall to the message of God’s redeeming grace and join the ranks of the saved.



We have here the first-fruits of that vast harvest of souls which was gathered to Jesus Christ. Come and see, in these verses, the exalted Redeemer riding forth, in these chariots of salvation, conquering and to conquer—“And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Rev. 6.2; KJV).




Commentary


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? 


Now when they heard this, 

From the first words spoken by the apostle it appeared to be a divine message, and that there was Divine power going along with it; a power whereby thousands were brought to have faith in the Savior. But neither Peter’s words, nor the miracle they witnessed, could have produced such effects if the Holy Spirit had not been present and appealed to the heart and minds of those who were observers of this grand event, which would never be repeated. 



They were startled by the spectacle they had witnessed, and therefore they patiently listened to Peter’s sermon without interrupting him as they used to do to Christ during his discourses (this was a good sign, that they had become attentive to the word). Before Peter began to speak they did not understand the demonstration they had observed; but by the time he finished it was clear to them that they had rejected and crucified the Lord. 



What was the spectacle they witnessed? They heard the disciples, probably the one hundred and twenty, speaking about the wonderful works of God in languages they had never spoken before. 



What did they hear? They heard Peter declare and then prove that Jesus was the Messiah. He did not sound like a fanatic, but used calm, well-supported, and overpowering reasoning. He proved to them the truth of what he was saying, and thus prepared the way for the Holy Spirit. 

 


It has already been observed, that up to the moment in which Peter arose to address the audience, although the immersion in the Holy Spirit had occurred, and its effects had been fully witnessed by the people, no change had taken place in their minds concerning Jesus Christ, neither did they experience any emotion, except confusion and amazement at a phenomenon which they could not comprehend. This fact proves, conclusively, that the power existent in the miraculous manifestation of the Spirit, which they witnesses, in itself alone, did not act alone to produce in them the desired change. All the power which the Spirit brought to this event still needed a medium distinct from itself in order to produce the desired effect in the minds and hearts of the people. The medium was the words of Peter. He spoke; and when he had announced the conclusion of his argument, Luke says: “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?” 


The usual means through which the Holy Spirit works is through the witness of a believer. There are almost always three things present when a sinner is saved; the Holy Spirit, the word of God, and a man or woman of God. The Holy Spirit takes the word of God, spoken by a child of God, and applies it to the heart of a sinner in order to make a new child of God.



they were pricked in their heart, 

 The word translated “were pricked” denotes to pierce or penetrate with a needle, lancet, or sharp instrument; and then to pierce with grief, or acute pain of any kind. It means the same as our word compunction. It also implies the idea of sudden as well as acute grief. In this case it means that they were suddenly and deeply affected with feelings of grief and distress by what Peter had said. The causes of their grief may have been due to one or more of these:  

(1.) Their sorrow that the Messiah had been put to death by his own countrymen. 

(2.) Their deep sense of guilt over having done this would bring about a remembrance of their ingratitude, and a conscious awareness that they were guilty of the most detestable and horrible kind murder; that of having killed their own Messiah. 

(3.) The fear of Christ’s wrath. He was still alive, exalted to the right hand of God, and entrusted with all power. They were afraid of his vengeance; they were conscious that they deserved it; and they supposed that they would have it. 

(4.) What they had done could not be undone. The guilt remained; they could not get rid of it. They had stained their hands with the blood of innocence; and the guilt of that disheartened their souls. This expresses the usual feelings which sinners have when they are convicted of sin. 



It is clear that Peter’s preaching was tremendously effective, since those who heard it “were pricked in their heart,” and they asked “what shall we do?” Sinners, when their eyes are opened by the Spirit of God, cannot avoid being pricked to the heart for their sins, and cannot help but feel the inward uneasiness of guilt. But it was very strange that such impressions should be made upon such hard hearts all of a sudden. They were Jews, who were brought up to hold the opinion that their religion could save them, and they had recently seen this Jesus crucified in helplessness and disgrace, and were told by their rulers that he was a deceiver. Peter had charged them with having a hand in it, a wicked hand, in his death, which was likely to have infuriated them against him; yet, when they heard this unembellished scriptural sermon, they “were pricked in their heart.”



In Acts 7:54 (KJV) we read about those that were cut to the heart with resentment for the preacher—“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth”— but these were pricked to the heart with indignation at themselves for having been accessories to the death of Christ. Peter charged them with that crime, which awakened their consciences, cut them to the quick, and as they reflected upon it they felt a sensation like a sword in their bones, it pierced them like they had pierced Christ. Sinners, when their eyes are opened so that they clearly see their sin, cannot prevent being pricked to the heart for sin, and cannot avoid an inward uneasiness; this is having the heart rent—“And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God…” (Joel 2:13; KJV)—and a broken and contrite heart—“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart…” (Psalms 51:17; KJV). Those that are truly sorry for their sins, and ashamed of them, and afraid of the consequences of them, are” pricked to the heart.” 



and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, 

As soon as Peter indicated he was done speaking, his listeners having been “pricked in their heart” ask a question; some asked Peter and some asked the rest of the apostles. These servants of God had convinced them of their sin, and therefore they expect to be counseled and comforted by them. They do not, as might have been expected, appeal to the scribes and Pharisees, to defend them against the apostles’ charge, but instead, they admit they are guilty, own up to the charge, and place their case in the hands of the apostles, whom they refer to as “Men and brethren.” 



Men and brethren, 

This was an expression Peter had used earlier when addressing them—“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you…” (Acts 2:29; NKJV)—denoting friendship and love, rather than a title of honour. Just before this they mocked the disciples, and charged them with being filled with new wine—“Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13; NKJV). Now they treated them with respect and trust. The views which sinners have of Christians and Christian ministers are significantly changed, when they are under conviction for sin. Before that, they may ridicule and argue with them; but afterwards they are glad to be taught even by humblest Christian—and may even cling to a minister of the gospel as if he could save them by his own power.



what shall we do? 

The sermon preached by Simon Peter brought them a feeling of conviction for their sins; they were overwhelmed with sorrow, and they asked, “What shall we do?” They speak like men:

1. That have come to a standstill, and did not know what to do; their question reveals their surprise at what they have just heard from the apostle:"Is that Jesus whom we have crucified both Lord and Christ? Then what will become of us who crucified Him? We are all ruined!’’ 

2. That have come to the point where they were resolved to do anything they were directed to do; they are not in favor of taking time to consider the suggestions, or for waiting for a more convenient time, but want to know immediately what they must do to escape the suffering they feared was soon coming to them. 



“What shall we do?” is the question which all convicted sinners ask. It implies a premonition of danger; a sense of guilt, and a willingness to yield the will to the demands of God. This was the same question asked by Peter—"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6): and by the jailer, "He came trembling-and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:29, 30). As far as what brings people to the place where they are driven to make this inquiry, there are many causes and triggers, such as:

1. A deep sense of the evil of their past life; remembrance of a thousand crimes against God and His commands, which perhaps were forgotten before; an infusion of dread and a deepening conviction that a person’s heart, and conversation, and life has been evil, and deserves condemnation. 

2. Misgivings about the justice of God; alarm when the mind looks upward to Him in His exalted position as King and Judge of the universe, or onward to the Great Day of death and judgment. 

3. An intense desire, which sometimes amounts to agony, to be delivered from this sense of condemnation, and this anxiety over the future. 

4. A readiness to sacrifice everything to the will of God; to surrender my will to His, and to do what he requires. When the sinner arrives at this condition, his soul is ready to accept the offers of eternal life and the mercy of the Lord Jesus, and he yields himself to the Savior, and finds peace. 

 


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. 


Then Peter said unto them, 

We have in this verse the answer to the question the Jews asked, “What shall we do?” To Peter, this was like throwing a bone to a dog. He knew what they needed to do and he did not mince words in his reply. He urged them to “repent” (the changing of mind that would result in their turning from sin and placing their faith in Christ) “and be baptized” (a public testimony to their repentance and faith in Christ). Large numbers responded to Peter’s words and repented, believed, and were baptized [It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent” (Luke 24:47; NLT).]; and by doing so, they committed themselves to the community of believers.



Peter and the other apostles told them what they must do, and what they might expect as a result of making this commitment (v. 39). Once sinners are convicted of sin, they must be encouraged to go further; and that which is broken must be bound up [“I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken…” (Eze. 34:16; KJV)]; they must be told that though their case is sad it is not desperate, there is hope for them. This is for a people who had the Word of God, who had heard the message, who knew the prophecies. They had been going along in one direction, which was away from God, even though they had a God–given religion. They are told to repent. They are to turn around and come God’s way.



Peter had been the chief speaker, though others had also addressed them. He now, in the name of all the rest, told the multitude what to do. 

 


Repent, 

The apostle called upon them to “repent” of their sins, and to openly declare their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, by being baptized in his name. By acknowledging their faith in Him, they would receive forgiveness for their sins, and partake of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. 



Peter’s answer to them was, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” This is one of the most controversial verses in the New Testament. In order to understanding it we must remember that Peter has been speaking to Jews concerning their national crime of murdering their Messiah. 



It is foolish to link baptism with the remission of sins because the Scriptures do NOT teach that salvation is dependent on baptism—“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” (I Cor 1:17; KJV). Peter did not consider baptizing his main business, though he occasionally did it. The same thing was true of the Saviour, that he did not personally baptize (See John 4:2). It is probable that the business of baptism was entrusted to the ministers of the church with inferior talents, or to those who were permanently connected with the churches, and not to those who were engaged chiefly in travelling from place to place.



This was the same message that John the Baptist and Christ had preached, and now, even though the Spirit is poured out, the message remains the same: “Repent, repent; change your mind, turn around and go another direction; look at things the same way God does and admit you are wrong and He is right.” 



“Repent” is an expression that always has been given to God’s people as a challenge to turn around and go in another direction. Repentance is primarily, I think, for saved people, that is, for God’s people in any age. They are the ones who, when they become cold and indifferent, are to turn. That was the message to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3, and it was the message of the Lord Jesus Himself.



Someone may ask whether the unsaved man is supposed to “repent.” The unsaved man is told that he is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the message of Peter to the jailer at Philippi (see Acts 16:31). That old rascal needed to do some repenting; but when an unsaved man believes in Jesus, he is repenting. Faith means to turn to Christ, and when you turn to Christ, you must also turn from something. If you don’t turn from something, then you aren’t really turning to Christ. So repentance is really a part of believing, but the primary message that should be given to the lost today is that they should believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We like to see people come forward in a service to receive Christ or sign a card signifying that they have made that decision, but the important thing is to trust Christ as your Savior, and if you really turn to Him, you turn from something else.



and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, 


Be baptized. 

People came great distances to see John the Baptist, “And [they] were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”  The very fact that they submitted to John’s baptism was an indication that they were leaving their old lives and turning to new lives. The instruction that Christ gave to his apostles was, that they should baptize all who believed [“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt 28:19; KJV). “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16; KJV).] The Jews had not been baptized; and a baptism now would be a profession of the religion of Christ, or a declaration made before the world that they embraced Jesus as their Messiah. It was equivalent to publicly embracing Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The gospel requires such a profession; and no one is at liberty to withhold it. And a similar declaration is to be made by all who are born again. They are to repent; and then, without any unnecessary delay, to demonstrate it in the ordinance of baptism. If men are UNWILLING to profess their religion, they have none. If they will not, in the proper way, show that they are truly attached to Christ, it is proof that they have no such attachment. Baptism is the application of water to express the need of purification, and it is illustrative of the special effects from God that can cleanse the soul. It is a form of dedication to the service of God, and it is also symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. 



Peter says to them, “Be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. This will be evidence that you have trusted Him for the remission of your sins—rather than bringing a sacrifice to be offered in the temple.” You see, their baptism would be a testimony to the fact that Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.



Every one of you. 

Baptism is strongly urged upon everyone that is born again: "Even those of you that have been the greatest sinners, if you repent and believe, are welcome to be baptized; and even those who think they have been the greatest saints need to repent, and believe, and be baptized. There is grace enough in Christ for “every one of you,” no matter how many, and there is grace that is appropriate for the situation of everyone. The ancient Hebrews were baptized unto Moses in the camp, the entire body of the Israelites together, when they passed through the cloud and the sea [“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (See 1 Co. 10:1, 2) The people were immersed in Moses’ authority. Therefore, the expression speaks of divine leadership (See Ex 14:31). Therefore, they came under the influence of his authority.], because the covenant was national; but now every one of you must be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus INDIVIDUALLY.’’  If you are born again, but have never been baptized, I urge you to do so as your public profession of the religion of Christ, by being baptized in His name; and thereby acknowledge yourselves to be his disciples and servants.



in the name of Jesus Christ. 

The Revised Version renders it, “Upon the name.”  Other renderings are “Upon the ground of the name,” and “In submission to the authority of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, by complying with the conditions just mentioned, they shall receive remission of sins. No one can receive pardon for their sins unless they first have faith in Christ, repent of their sins, and submit to the will of Christ. By the authority of Jesus Christ means to be baptized for Him and his service; to be consecrated in this way, and by this public profession, to Him, and to His cause. The name of Jesus Christ means the same as Jesus Christ himself. To be baptized in His name means to be devoted to Him. The word name is often used in this way. And the profession which they were to make amounted to this: A confession of sins; a whole-hearted desire to turn from them; a reception of Jesus as the Messiah, and as their Saviour; and a determination to become His followers, and to be devoted to His service. Similarly, in the Old Testament, Israel was said to have been baptized into Moses [“They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10.2; NIV). The people were led to believe in Moses as God's servant by the miracle of the cloud protecting them, and by their being conducted under him safely through the Red Sea; therefore they are said to be "baptized unto" him ( Exodus 14:31 ).]. To be "baptized unto Moses," means to take him as the leader and guide. 



In the early church, it is not likely that in administering the ordinance of baptism they used only the name of Jesus Christ. It is much more probable that they used the method prescribed by the Savior himself [“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19; NIV). Converts were to be baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It is a positive affirmation of the Old Testament that where the name of the Lord is recorded there will He meet His disciples, or there will be His presence. (See Exod. 20:24).], although it is the distinctive characteristic of a Christian that he receives and honors Jesus Christ—His name is used here as implying the whole; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The same thing occurs in Acts 19:5 [“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”]. They must be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ.” They did believe in the Father and the Holy Ghost speaking by the prophets; but they must also believe in the name of Jesus, that He is the Christ, the Messiah promised to the fathers. "Take Jesus for your king, and by baptism swear allegiance to him; take him for your prophet, and hear him; take him for your priest, to make atonement for you,’’ which seems peculiarly intended here; for they must be baptized in his name for the remission of sins upon the merit of his righteousness. 



For the remission of sins. 

Not only for the sin of crucifying the Messiah, but for all sins, for all tine, and no matter how many or how great they may be. There is nothing in baptism itself that can wash away sin. That can only be done by the pardoning mercy of God through the atonement of Christ. If you do not have that, you might as well take a bar of soap with you, because all you are going to get from it is a bath. Baptism must occur after one is saved, because it is expressive of a previous willingness to be pardoned in that way; and a solemn declaration of our conviction that there is no other way to be saved. He who comes to be baptized, comes with a professed conviction that he is a sinner, that there is no other way of attaining mercy except through faith in Christ, and with a professed willingness to comply with the terms of salvation, and receive it as it is offered through the gospel.



Peter encourages them to take this path: “Baptism is for the remission of sins. Repent of your sin, and it cannot be your downfall; be baptized into the faith of Christ, and you shall be justified, which is something that was impossible while you were under the Law of Moses. Aim at this, and depend upon Christ for it, and this you shall have. As the cup in the Lord’s Supper is the New Testament in the blood of Christ for the remission of sins, so baptism is in the name of Christ for the remission of sins. Be washed, and you shall be clean indeed.’’ 



Baptism itself does not purify the conscience; it only points out the grace by which this is to be done.



and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Anyone who believes, who puts his trust in Jesus Christ, will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“The gift of the Holy Ghost,” as it is used here, does not mean his extraordinary gifts, or the power of working miracles; but it simply means, you shall partake of the influences of the Holy Ghost as far as they may be adapted to your circumstance, as far as may be needed for your comfort, peace, and sanctification. There is no evidence that they were all endowed with the power of working miracles. All true conviction comes from Him, [“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more” (John 16:8-10; KJV).] But it is also the role of the Spirit to comfort, to enlighten, to give peace, and in this way to give evidence that the soul is born again. This is probably what Peter is talking about; and all who are born again, and profess faith in Christ, possess this as a gift from God. There is peace, calmness, joy; there is evidence of godliness, and that evidence is the result of the influences of the Spirit. [“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts’ (Gal. 5.22-24; KJV). Love is the root of all the rest. Gentleness is toward all men; ignorant and wicked men in particular. Goodness means all that is kind, forgiving, endearing, and gentle, either in disposition or behavior. Meekness is having all the affections and passions in balance. And they that are Christ's are faithful believers in Him, and have crucified the flesh—Nailed it, in a manner of speaking, to a cross where it has no power to break loose, but is continually weaker and weaker, along with its likes and desires—All its evil passions, appetites, and inclinations.]



There can be no doubt that the gift of the Holy Ghost was that Spirit of adoption, that converting, guiding, sanctifying grace, which is bestowed upon all the members of the family of our heavenly Father, which they all received on the day of Pentecost, and from which no true believer has ever been shut out. 



Repentance and the remission of sins are still preached to the chief of sinners, in the Redeemer's name; the Holy Spirit still seals the blessing on the believer's heart; the encouraging promises of God’s Word are still for us and our children; and the blessings are still offered to all that are afar off. It was by being baptized in the name of Christ that men took upon themselves the bonds of Christianity; and it was in consequence of this that the disciples of Christ were called CHRISTIANS.



"You, dear reader shall “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” the same as we have; because He has designed it for a general blessing: each of you, if you are sincere in your faith and repentance, shall receive his internal graces and comforts, and will be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.’’ Note, all that receive the remission of sins “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” All that are justified are sanctified, but the world cannot receive any of these.



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. 


For the promise is unto you,  

The promise he refers to is not only the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2.28 which he had cited earlier, but the one found in Isaiah 44.3, “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring;” and in Isaiah 59.21, “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” When God made a covenant with Abraham, He said, “I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed” (Gen. 17:7); and, after that, every Israelite had his son circumcised when they were eight days old. Now it is appropriate for an Israelite, when he is brought by baptism into a new dispensation of this covenant, to ask, "What must be done with my children? Must they stay on the outside, or taken in with me?’’ "Taken in’’ (says Peter) "of course; because the promise, that great promise of God being your God, is as much for you and to your children now as ever it was.’’ The promise then, is the particular thing he has been speaking to them about—the influences of the Holy Ghost. This is the promise he had mentioned in the beginning of his sermon [“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” (Acts 2:17; KJV).], and he now applies it to them, even though they had killed their Messiah. In the same way that the Spirit was promised to descend on Jews and their sons and daughters, it was applicable to them in the circumstances in which they were on the Day of Pentecost. The only hope lost sinners have is in the promises of God; and the only thing that can give comfort to a soul that is convicted of sin, is the hope that God will pardon and save them. 



and to your children, 

In Joel 2.28, the promise is made to their sons and daughters (that they shall prophesy), who should, nevertheless, be old enough to talk. Similar promises occur in Isaiah 44:3, "I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring," and Isaiah 59:21. In these and similar places, their descendants or posterity are indicated. It does not refer to children as children, and should not be used to establish the truth and acceptability of infant baptism, or as sanctioning infant membership in the Church of Christ. That this is the true assessment of the apostle's meaning is demonstrated by the fact that the promise in question is based upon the conditions of repentance and immersion, with which infants could not possibly comply. But it is a promise made to parents that the blessings of salvation shall not be confined to them, but shall be extended also to their posterity. Under this promise parents may be encouraged to raise their children for God and to devote them to His service; believing that it is the gracious purpose of God to perpetuate the blessings of salvation from age to age.



"Your children shall still have, as they have always had, an interest in the covenant, and a title to the eternal seal of it. Come to Christ, to receive those incalculable benefits; because the promise of the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, is for you and your children.” 



and to all that are afar off, 

Two thousand years ago you and I were “afar off.” He is talking about us here.



“To all” means to the entire race of men; it is not limited to Jews, but does include them. The promise is made to the Jews wherever they have been scattered, and to all the Gentile nations. At this point St. Peter did not possess a formal knowledge of the calling of the Gentiles, and yet, the Spirit of God, who so greatly influenced what he said, undoubtedly had this in view; and therefore he adds “and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call,” that is, all to whom, in the course of his providence and grace, he shall send the preaching of Christ crucified.

 


The promise had belonged to the Israelites for a long time [‘Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 9:4). Peter itemizes some of the glories of the Jewish race. Jacob, their ancestor, had been called Israel by the angel (Ge 32:28). This means a Prince with God, and this proud title was borne by his descendants. Six high privileges of the chosen people are named in here. The adoption. They were adopted as the chosen people (De 7:6). The glory. The presence of the ark of God and the glory of the Divine Presence (1Sa 4:21). The covenants. The covenants made with Abraham (Ge 17:7) and at Sinai (Ex 19:5). The giving of the law. The Law of Moses given to the children of Israel (Ex 24:12). The service [of God]. The worship of the tabernacle and temple (Ex 30:16 Ezr 6:18 Heb 9:6). And the promises. Especially the blessed promise of Christ. (Ac 2:38,39).]; but now it is sent to those that are afar off, the farthest nations of the Gentiles, and every one of them too, all that are afar off. The only limiting factor is the next clause, “even as many as the Lord our God shall call,” that is, as many individuals in each nation, as the Lord our God shall call into the fellowship of Jesus Christ. Note, none will come except those whom He calls.

 


It is very likely that Peter refers here to the Jews who were scattered into many nations; because, as I mentioned before, he does not at this point in time seem to understand that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles (See Acts 10). Yet the promise was just as applicable to the Gentiles as it was to the Jews; and a short time after this apostles were brought to understand that the Gospel was to be universally applied (See Acts 10; Romans 10:12,14-20; Romans 11). As a matter of fact, the Gentiles are sometimes clearly designated by the expression "afar off,"—“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ… And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh” (Ephesians 2:13,17)—and they are represented as having been brought nigh by the blood of Christ. The phrase is equally applicable to those who have been far off from God because their sins and their evil cravings have not been confessed and forgiven. To them also the promise is extended if they will return to God and serve him. 



The extension of this promise “to all who are afar off,” is not to be limited to all the Jews who were afar off; but it is correctly qualified by the additional words, “even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” 



even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

 The promise is not made to those who refuse to hear the gospel, nor to those who do not obey it; but it is for those to whom God, in his gracious Providence, shall send it. He alone has the power and right to pardon sinners. The gist of Peter’s statement is that the promise is sufficient, full, and free; that it is adaptable to all, and may be applied to all; that there is no flaw or deficiency in the provisions or promises of it; but that God may offer it to whomsoever he pleases. We see here how generous and complete are God’s offers of mercy. God is not limited in any way by the provisions of his grace; the Gospel is applicable to all mankind. It is also God’s intention to send it to all men; and he has given a solemn command to his church to do it. However, we cannot help being saddened by the fact that the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ to His people has been extended to so small a portion of the human family. If the promise of life is made to all, it is the duty of the church to give the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all mankind. The gospel call guarantees to us the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the same terms on which it was offered to Peter's hearers on the day of Pentecost.

 


40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 


And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, 

The guidance offered by Peter is followed by this verse which contains a warning for the churches of Galatia. He says, first of all that there were many other words which he does not mention in this epistle; though his sermon seems quite lengthy he said much more on the Day of Pentecost than he mentions here. This discourse, though one of the longest in the New Testament, is only an outline. It contains, however, the substance of the plan of salvation; and is excellently arranged to obtain its objective. Two words express the essence of this verse:

1. Testify. Bear witness to. He bore witness to the promises of Christianity; to the truths pertaining to the danger facing sinners; and to the truth pertaining to the character of that generation. 

2. Exhort. He implored them through arguments and promises to reject their false apostles and return to the Gospel he preached to them at first. 



Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 

“This generation” is this age or race of men, the Jews living at that time. The danger Paul warns them of does not so much come from them as it does from being with them and participating in their plans, policies, and behavior. They should escape from the influence of their opinions, etc. That generation was completely corrupt and wicked, as evidenced by the following verses: 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me” (Mat. 23.27; NLT).

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8.38; NIV).



“Save yourselves from this untoward generation” is like saying:

“Be free from them” or “free yourself from them.”

“Get away from this religion. Turn to Christ.”

“Separate yourselves from them.”

“Preserve yourselves from the influence, opinions, and fate of this generation.” 

It implies that they were to make a persistent effort to deliver themselves. God deals with men as free agents. He calls upon them to exercise their free will and choose Christ to be saved. Unless men are willing to receive the free gift of salvation by grace, they will never be saved. When they are saved, they will give to God the praise for having motivated them to seek Him, and for the grace by which they are saved. 



The unbelieving Jews were an “untoward generation,” which meant, according to Mr. Webster, that as a people they were "Perverse (headstrong), refractory (rebellious), not easily guided or taught." They walked contrary to God and man—“Who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men” (1 Th. 2:15; NASB)—devoted to sin and marked for decline and disaster. With this in view, Paul’s message to the Galatian believers is: "Save yourselves from their ruin, do not involve yourselves with them, and you may escape all those things’’ (as the Christians did): "Repent, and be baptized; and then you will not share in their destruction, even though you may have shared in their sin.’’ 



The only way we can save ourselves from wicked people is to separate ourselves from them; even if, by doing so, we expose ourselves to their rage and hostility. We will realize how important it is for us to separate ourselves from them, if we consider where it is they are headed in such a hurry; we will see it is better to face the trouble that comes from opposing them than to go along with them and place our souls in danger. Those that repent of their sins, and give themselves to Jesus Christ, must demonstrate their sincerity by breaking off all unnecessary contact with wicked people. Depart from me, ye evil doers, is the language of one that determines to keep the commandments of his God—“Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God! (Ps. 119:115; NIV). We must save ourselves from them, which may entail avoiding them with dread and holy fear; in the same way we would seek to save ourselves from an enemy that seeks to destroy us, or from a house infected with the plague.



The Jews were persuasive, cunning, and credible; but their religion had become corrupt, and their conduct wicked. The Pharisees had a vast hold on the people. To break away from them one would need to defy their power and doctrines, alienate themselves from their teachers and friends, stand up to the power of those in office, and those who claimed the right to teach and guide the nation. The chief danger of those who were now awakened was from “this generation;” that they would ridicule, or denounce, or persecute them, and induce them to abandon their faith in Christ, and turn back to their sins. And therefore Peter pressed them to immediately break off from them, and give themselves to Christ. 



How can they save themselves? Verse 38 has the answer: “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.”   This was the object of the “many other words” of Peter’s sermon. They could “save themselves” by complying with the conditions named in verse 38, and accepting Christ as their Savior. It seems as if Peter already foresaw the moral decline and hopeless impenitence of the nation at large, and urged his hearers to quickly secure their own salvation.




 





 





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