Fairview Baptist Church
2040 Main Street WW - Ashland, Kentucky 41102
"Where Everybody Is Somebody and Jesus is Lord"


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Bailey Sadler Class



Study Theme:  Unstoppable Gospel

What This Lesson Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

The focus of this week’s study is on the church we read about in the Book of Acts that shows us what can happen when believers remain focused on the unstoppable message of salvation in Christ.


Oct. 16

Unstoppable Mission


Oct. 23

Unstoppable Message


Oct. 30

Unstoppable Love


Nov. 06

Unstoppable Opportunities


Nov. 13

Unstoppable Courage


Nov. 20

Unstoppable Impact


Nov. 27

Give Thanks—Anyway!



Jesus died for our sins, rose again, and reigns as Lord.


Acts 2:22-24,32-33,36-38





Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Brings Salvation  (Acts. 2:22-24)

Jesus Is Exalted As Lord  (Acts 2:32-33,36)

The Message of Christ Calls For A Response  (Acts 2:37-38)


In last week’s study we learned that Jesus told His disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they received power from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).  The disciples obeyed Jesus and gathered in Jerusalem to pray and to select a successor for Judas.  On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, and they “began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech” (Acts 2:4).  Jew from around the known world had moved to Jerusalem, and many visitors were in town for this important holy day.  The crowd was amazed to hear the disciples speaking in their own language (v. 6).  They presumed the disciples had not studied these foreign languages, so how could they speak them?  Some speculate that somehow the disciples were drunk (v. 13).

The Holy Spirit played a major role throughout the Book of Acts.  The empowering of the Holy Spirit was not always manifest with the gift of speaking in tongues, but Acts reported a total of four events that are similar.  The event in Acts 2 could be called the Jewish Pentecost since it actually happened on the Jewish holy day.  A “Samaritan Pentecost” happened when converts in Samaria received the Holy Spirit (8:14-17).  The “Gentile Pentecost” was when Corneilus and other Gentiles received the Holy Spirit (10:44-46).  A “Baptist” or “Ephesian Pentecost-type event” was when the followers of John the Baptist in Ephesus received the Holy Spirit (19:1-7).  Although these four Pentecost-type events are dramatic and memorable, the Holy Spirit was active in many other ways in the early church.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.


This study focuses on what makes the church unique among all organizations.  A sociologist might see many similarities among churches, businesses, social clubs, sororities, and other organizations.  From the human level, groups often have mission statements, officers, budgets, and other common features.  The church is unique, however, because if its unchanging message.  The church was founded to proclaim the message of salvation in Jesus Christ.  The church is committed to tis original leader, Jesus, but He is not a mere human leader.  His death on the cross for our sins, His resurrection, and His ongoing reign as Lord and Savior make Him unique.  Although local churches are important to many of us for their humanitarian deeds, fellowship, and service to the community, the church is distinctive because of what it proclaims about Jesus.  The church’s unstoppable message is the unstoppable gospel, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, for all who believe in Him.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.









Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Brings Salvation  (Acts. 2:22-24)

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. 23 Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people  to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. 24 God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.

1.   What are some things that gets you sidetracked during the day?

2.   What was the setting for this focal passage?

3.   Who was the speaker and to whom was he speaking?

4.   What was the focus of the speaker’s message (v. 22)?

5.   What does the message proclaimed by the speaker tell us about him?

6.   Based on verse 22, how did Jesus validate His identity and mission?

7.   What was the main purpose of the miracles Jesus performed (v. 22)?

8.   What the focus of verse 23?

9.   How do you suppose the Jews received this accusation?

10.   Why do you think God would plan for His Son to be crucified?

11.   What should the Jews have know about the coming Messiah from reading Isaiah 53?

12.   What should Psalms 16:8-11 have told the Jews regarding the Messiah?

13.   Based on this passage, upon what two crucial points is our salvation is based?

14.   What can we learn from Peter’s approach to sharing the gospel?

15.   How would you explain the essentials of the gospel message to a non-believer?

16.   Why do you think after all these years the Gospel message is so hard for some people to believe?


Lasting Lessons in Acts 2:22-24:

1.  God demonstrated His special relation to Jesus by empowering Him to perform many miracles.

2.  The death of Jesus resulted from God’s eternal plan of salvation and the actions of sinful humans.

3.  God raised Jesus from the dead, confirming Jesus’ special relation to God the Father as His Son.



Jesus Is Exalted As Lord  (Acts 2:32-33,36)

32“God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. 33Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear.

36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!”

1.   What does verse 32 tell us about the reality of Jesus’ resurrection?

2.   And because God has resurrected this Jesus, based on verse 33, what has happened to Him?

3.   What are some arguments people use to create doubt in Jesus’ resurrection?  Why do you think that is?

4.   What assertion and biblical reinforcements about the exaltation of Jesus is Peter use?

5.   What do you think Peter meant by the last part of verse 33?

6.   What part of Peter’s statement points toward the doctrine of the Trinity?

7.   What do you think is the significance of Peter stating that Jesus “has been exalted to the right hand of God”?

8.   What are the personal implications of recognizing Jesus as Lord?

9.   What does it really mean to say, “Jesus is Lord”?

10.   What are the worldwide implications that God has made Jesus Lord?

11.   What are some things that can cause people to struggle with the certainty that Jesus is Lord?

12.   When looking at this passage, how do you think Peter’s understanding of Jesus as Messiah had changed?


Lasting Lessons in Acts 2:32-33,36:

1.  Early Christians were eye witnesses to the fact that Jesus had experienced a bodily resurrection.

2.  The risen Jesus now is seated at the right hand of God the Father.

3.  God the Father, Gad the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are unified in providing the power of the Holy Spirit to all believers.

4.  Jesus is both the fulfillment of the Jewish hope for the Messiah and our Lord and Savior.





The Message of Christ Calls For A Response  (Acts 2:37-38)

37When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” 38“Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

1.   Based on verse 37, just how powerful do you think Peter’s message really was?

2.   Can there be salvation if conviction is not followed up by action on the part of the believer?  Why, or why not?

3.   What actions did Peter say the people must take following conviction (v. 38)?

4.   What does the word “repent” mean in verse 38?

5.   Why do you think many people would like to limit Jesus to the role of hero, superstar, or prophet?

6.   What role does the believer play in the plan of salvation?

7.   What role does the Holy Spirit play in the plan of salvation?

8.   Do you think many believers fail to utilize the power of the Holy Spirit when attempting to share the gospel? 

9.   Why do you think this may be true?


Lasting Lessons in Acts 2:37-38:

1.  People sometimes are convicted of their sins and their need for salvation when they hear a clear presentation of the gospel message.

2.  Christians today need to be candid about what is involved in accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.

3.  Sometimes large numbers may respond positively to the gospel message.



The message matters.  Without the message of Jesus, the church cannot exist.  Without a message, the mission fails.  When the mission fails, Christ is dishonored.  Believers need to understand the message and to be able to articulate it clearly.  When that message of salvation is proclaimed, it will make an eternal difference in the lives of those who receive it by faith.  It is a message of salvation that will not stop!

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.


Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.



Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

King James Version:  Acts 2:22-24,32-33,36-38

Acts 2:22-24 (KJV)

22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:32-33 (KJV)

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

Acts 2:36-38 (KJV)

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 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.


New King James Version:  Acts 2:22-24,32-33,36-38

 Acts 2:22-23 (NKJV)

22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

Acts 2:32-33 (NKJV)

32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

Acts 2:36-38 (NKJV)

36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.



New Revised Standard Version:   Acts 2:22-24,32-33,36-38

 Acts 2:22-24 (NRSV)

22 "You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know—23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

Acts 2:32-33 (NRSV)

32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.

Acts 2:36-38 (NRSV)

36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" 38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


 (NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from three sources: “Believer's Bible Commentary,The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” “The Moody Bible Commentary,” and “Matthew Henry's Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)


Lesson Outline — “Unstoppable Message” — Acts 2:22-24,32-33,36-38




Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Brings Salvation  (Acts. 2:22-24)

Jesus Is Exalted As Lord  (Acts 2:32-33,36)

The Message of Christ Calls For A Response  (Acts 2:37-38)



Believer's Bible Commentary: Acts 2:22-24,32-33,36-38

2:22-24.  But who is the Lord? Peter will next announce the startling news that this Jesus whom they had crucified is both Lord and Christ. He does so first by speaking of the life of Jesus, then His death, resurrection, ascension, and finally His glorification at the right hand of God the Father. If they had any illusions that Jesus was still in a Judean tomb, Peter will soon disabuse their minds! They must be told that the One they had murdered is in heaven, and they must still reckon with Him.

Here then is the flow of the apostle's argument: Jesus of Nazareth was demonstrated to be a Man from God by the many miracles He performed in the power of God (v. 22). In His determined purpose and foreknowledge, God delivered Him into the hands of the Jewish people. They, in turn, turned Him over to the Gentiles (men without the law) to be crucified and put to death (v. 23). However, God raised Him up from among the dead, having loosed the pains of death. It was not possible for death to hold Him a prisoner because:

  1. The character of God demanded His resurrection. He had died, the Sinless for the sinful. God must raise Him as proof of His complete satisfaction with the redemptive work of Christ.

  2. The prophecies of the OT demanded His resurrection. This is the particular point which Peter presses in the following verses.

2:32, 33.  Now Peter repeats an announcement that must have shocked his Jewish audience. The Messiah of whom David prophesied was Jesus of Nazareth. God had raised Him from among the dead, as the apostles could all testify because they were eyewitnesses to His resurrection. Following His resurrection, the Lord Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, and now the Holy Spirit had been sent as promised by the Father. This was the explanation of what had happened in Jerusalem earlier in the day.

2:36.  Now, once again, the announcement comes crashing down upon the Jewish people. GOD HAS MADE BOTH Lord AND CHRIST—THIS JESUS WHOM YOU CRUCIFIED (Gk. word order). As Bengel said, "The sting of the speech is put at the end"—THIS JESUS, whom you crucified. They had crucified God's Anointed One, and the coming of the Holy Spirit was evidence that Jesus had been exalted in heaven (see John 7:39).

2:37.   So mighty was the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that there was an immediate response from the audience. Without any invitation or appeal from Peter, they cried out, "What shall we do?" The question was prompted by a deep sense of guilt. They now realized that the Jesus whom they had slain was God's beloved Son! This Jesus had been raised from the dead and was now exalted in heaven. This being so, how could these guilty murderers possibly escape judgment?

2:38.  Peter's answer was that they should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. First, they were to repent, acknowledging their guilt, and taking sides with God against themselves.

Then they were to be baptized for (or unto) the remission of their sins. At first glance, this verse seems to teach salvation by baptism, and many people insist that this is precisely what it does mean. Such an interpretation is impossible for the following reasons:

1.  In dozens of NT passages, salvation is said to be by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 3:16, 36; 6:47; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9, for example). No verse or two could conceivably contradict such overwhelming testimony.

2.  The thief on the cross had the assurance of salvation apart from baptism (Luke 23:43).

3.  The Savior is not stated to have baptized anyone, a strange omission if baptism is essential to salvation.

4.  The Apostle Paul was thankful that he baptized only a few of the Corinthians—a strange cause for thankfulness if baptism has saving merit (1 Cor. 1:14-16).

It is important to notice that only Jews were ever told to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (see Acts 22:16). In this fact, we believe, is the secret to the understanding of this passage. The nation of Israel had crucified the Lord of glory. The Jewish people had cried out, "His blood be on us and on our children" (Matt. 27:25). The guilt of the Messiah's death was thus claimed by the people of Israel.

Now, some of these Jews had come to realize their mistake. By repentance they acknowledged their sin to God. By trusting the Lord Jesus as their Savior they were regenerated and received eternal forgiveness of sins. By public water baptism they dissociated themselves from the nation that crucified the Lord and identified themselves with Him. Baptism thus became the outward sign that their sin in connection with the rejection of Christ (as well as all their sins) had been washed away. It took them off Jewish ground and placed them on Christian ground. But baptism did not save them. Only faith in Christ could do that. To teach otherwise is to teach another gospel and thus be accursed (Gal. 1:8, 9).

An alternative interpretation of baptism for the remission of sins is given by Ryrie:

This does not mean in order that sins might be remitted, for everywhere in the New Testament sins are forgiven as a result of faith in Christ, not as a result of baptism. It means be baptized because of the remission of sins. The Greek preposition eis, for, has this meaning "because of" not only here but also in such a passage as Matthew 12:41 where the meaning can only be "they repented because of [not in order to] the preaching of Jonah." Repentance brought the remission of sins for this Pentecostal crowd, and because of the remission of sins they were asked to be baptized.

Peter assured them that if they repented and were baptized, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. To insist that this order applies to us today is to misunderstand God's administrative dealings in the early days of the church. As H. P. Barker has so ably pointed out in The Vicar of Christ, there are four communities of believers in the Book of Acts, and the order of events in connection with the reception of the Holy Spirit is different in each case.

Here in Acts 2:38 we read about Jewish Christians. For them, the order was:

1. Repentance.

2. Water baptism.

3. Reception of the Holy Spirit.

The conversion of Samaritans is recorded in Acts 8:14-17. There we read that the following events occurred:

1. They believed.

2. They were baptized in water.

3. The apostles prayed for them.

4. The apostles laid their hands on them.

5. They received the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 10:44-48 the conversion of Gentiles is in view. Notice the order here:

1. Faith.

2. Reception of the Holy Spirit.

3. Water baptism.

A final community of believers is made up of disciples of John the Baptist, Acts 19:1-7:

1. They believed.

2. They were rebaptized.

3. The Apostle Paul laid his hands on them.

4. They received the Holy Spirit.

Does this mean there were four ways of salvation in the Book of Acts? Of course not. Salvation was, is, and always will be on the basis of faith in the Lord. But during the transition period recorded in Acts, God chose to vary the events connected with the reception of the Holy Spirit for reasons which He knew but did not choose to reveal to us.

Then which of these patterns applies to us today? Since Israel nationally has rejected the Messiah, the Jewish people have forfeited any special privileges they might have had. Today God is calling out of the Gentiles a people for His Name (Acts 15:14). Therefore, the order for today is that which is found in Acts 10:


Reception of the Holy Spirit.

Water baptism.

We believe this order applies to all today, to Jews as well as to Gentiles. This may sound arbitrary at first. It might be asked, "When did the order in Acts 2:38 cease to apply to Jews and the order in Acts 10:44-48 begin?" No definite date can be given, of course. But the Book of Acts traces a gradual transition from the gospel's going out primarily to Jews, to its being repeatedly rejected by the Jews, to its going out to the Gentiles. By the end of the Book of Acts the nation of Israel had been largely set aside. By unbelief it had forfeited any special claim as God's chosen people. During the Church Age it would be reckoned with the Gentile nations, and God's order for the Gentiles, outlined in Acts 10:44-48, would apply.

SOURCE: Believer's Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.


The Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Acts 2:22-24,32-33,36-38

2:22. The main body of Peter's message centers around Jesus, not the Holy Spirit. The outpouring on the Day of Pentecost was intended to bear powerful witness to Jesus (Acts 1:8; John 15:26; 16:14).

Peter first drew attention to the fact that the inhabitants of Jerusalem knew the "man" of Nazareth, Jesus. (Nazareth in Hebrew is derived from the word branch, Hebrew nētser, used in Isaiah 11:1 of the greater Son of David, the Messiah. Nazarene, Hebrew nētseri, can mean either "the man of Nazareth" or "the man of the branch," and thus identifies Jesus as the Messiah. Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12 and other passages use related words to describe the Messiah as the righteous Branch, the new shoot that will arise from the stump of what was left of David's line and bring in the coming Kingdom.)

Peter's audience knew how God had approved Jesus for their benefit by miracles (mighty works, mighty manifestations of power), wonders, and signs. These are the three words used in the Bible for supernatural works. They refer to the variety of miracles Jesus did, and Peter had in mind especially the miracles Jesus did in the temple at the feast times when many in this crowd had undoubtedly been present (John 2:23; 4:45; 11:47).

2:23. Peter next declared that the Jews in Jerusalem, by wicked hands (the hands of lawless men, men outside the Jewish law, that is, the Roman soldiers), crucified and slew (nailed up and slew) this Jesus. The Jerusalem Jews were responsible. But Peter also made it clear that Jesus was delivered up (given over) to them by the determinate counsel (the designated will) and foreknowledge of God. (Compare Luke 24:26, 27, 46.) If they had understood the prophets they would have known Messiah had to suffer. Peter did not intend, however, to lessen their guilt by saying this. Note that the Bible never puts this kind of responsibility on the Jews in general.

2:24.  Peter quickly added that this Jesus is the One whom God raised up. The Resurrection took away the stigma of the cross, which was the Roman method of hanging criminals whom they considered enemies of society. It is hard for us to realize today how much shame there was in being crucified. As Hebrews 12:2 brings out, Jesus, as the Author (leader) and Finisher (perfecter) of our faith, for "the joy that was set before him, endured the cross," caring nothing for the shame, and He is now seated "at the right hand of the throne of God."

By the Resurrection also, God released Jesus from the pains (pangs) of death because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. Pangs, "pains," here usually means "birth pangs," so that the "death" here is perceived as labor. Just as labor pains are relieved by the birth of a child, so the Resurrection brought an end to the pangs of death.

Why was it not possible for Jesus to be held by death? Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), some say the reason death could not hold Him was because He had no sin of His own for death to claim Him. Hebrews 9:14 points out that Jesus, through His own eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God. He was in all points tempted (and tested) just as believers are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). As the Lamb of God He was undefiled, without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19; 2:22-24). Because He was righteous He was able to bear away our sins without being defiled himself (Romans 5:18; Hebrews 7:26). In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the Bible says God made Jesus to be sin for us, who knew no sin. But this does not mean He was made sinful or made a sinner. In fact, the Old Testament word for sin means both sin or a sin offering, depending on the context. The context in 2 Corinthians 5 is of reconciliation accomplished because He died for all and thus became a sin offering, literally, "instead of us." But He remained always the spotless Lamb of God.

2:25. Peter's reason for the fact that death could not hold Jesus, however, is that His resurrection was necessary in order to fulfill the prophetic Word of God. Under the inspiration of the Spirit Peter said David was speaking of Jesus in Psalm 16:8-11. Jewish tradition of the time also applied this to the Messiah. David foresaw the Lord before his face (present with him) and at his right hand to help, so that he would not be moved (so he would be established).

2:26. God's presence caused David's heart to rejoice and his tongue to express gladness. His flesh also made God-given hope his rest, his tabernacle, his place of encampment.

2:27. The central point of David's prophecy is the promise that God would not leave (abandon) His soul in hell (Greek, hadēs, the place of the afterlife, a translation of the Hebrew word sheʾôl), and that He would not permit His Holy One to see corruption (putrefaction).

Some contend that the Old Testament does not reflect a belief in a resurrection of the dead. This passage from Psalm 16 seems to indicate otherwise as do the following: Daniel 12:2—"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt"; Job 19:25-27—"I know that my Redeemer lives... Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God" (NASB); Psalm 17:15—"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." (See also Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; Psalms 49:15; 73:24; and Isaiah 26:19 for passages that may point to an Old Testament teaching on resurrection.)

Everywhere else in the New Testament Hades refers to the place of punishment during the intermediate state between death and the final (Great White Throne) judgment. It, along with death, will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). That is, it will be fused with the lake of fire so that the lake of fire will then be the only place of death and punishment.

According to some scholars, the view that Hades was a place of punishment developed during the period between the Testaments. Until then the term Hades simply referred to the grave or to the underworld abode of the dead. This understanding, they say, is reflected in the Septuagint where hades is used to translate the Hebrew term sheʾôl. If this is the case, Sheol is the place everyone went after they died. However, others hold that in the Old Testament sheʾôl referred to the place where the wicked were punished after death. In this verse, the quotation taken from Psalm 16 does not seem to convey either theological conclusion; it simply says Death could not hold the Messiah.

2:28. "The ways of life" is best understood in terms of Proverbs 15:24 where the Hebrew reads: "The way of life is to the place above for the wise (the godly), that he may avoid Sheol beneath." For Christ they would speak of His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father. There, the Father's countenance would be turned toward Him and make Him full of joy. (Compare Hebrews 12:2.)

2:29. Peter declared it was proper for him to say boldly (freely and openly) of the patriarch (chief father, ancestral ruler) David that the psalm could not possibly apply to him. He not only died and was buried, his tomb was still there in Jerusalem. Obviously David's flesh did see corruption. But Jesus' did not. This clearly implies Jesus' tomb was empty.

There have been several suggestions concerning the precise location of David's tomb. Some place it in the town of Bethlehem, the place of David's birth. Others believe it was somewhere in the vicinity of Gethsemane. More likely the tomb was actually near Siloam. This conclusion is based upon a statement made in Nehemiah 3:16 concerning the work which was done in repairing the walls of Jerusalem: "After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk... made repairs as far as a point opposite the tombs of David, and as far as the artificial pool and the house of the mighty men" (NASB). The artificial pool referred to in this verse is apparently the pool of Siloam which served as a major source of water for the city of Jerusalem. The Jewish historian Josephus reports that during the siege of Jerusalem (ca. 135 B.C.). John Hyrcanus, the high priest during the period of the Maccabees, robbed the tomb of David. About 100 years later King Herod made a similar attempt but was thwarted, supposedly through God's intervention (see Wars of the Jews 1.2.5; Antiquities 8.8.4; 16.7.1; cf. Bruce, New International Commentary, Acts, p. 66).

2:30. Because David was a prophet (a speaker for God), and because he knew God had sworn an oath that of the fruit of his loins One would sit on his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of Christ (the Messiah, God's Anointed One). The reference here is to the Davidic covenant. In it God promised David there would always be a man from his seed for the throne. This was first given with respect to Solomon (2 Samuel 7:11-16). But it recognized that if David's descendants sinned they would have to be punished. God, however, would never turn His back on David's line and substitute another as He had done in the case of King Saul (Psalms 89:3, 4; 132:11, 12).

Because the kings of David's line did not follow the Lord, God finally had to bring an end to their kingdom and send the people to Babylon. His purpose was to rid Israel of idolatry. But the promise to David still stood. There would yet be One to sit on David's throne and make it eternal.

2:31. Peter did not give any details of Christ's descent into Hades. The notion that Jesus spent the 3 days following His crucifixion leading the righteous dead out of paradise and snatching the keys of Hades and Death from Satan is not supported by the Scriptures. Speculation about this goes beyond what the Scripture teaches. Instead, Peter declared that what David foresaw in the psalm was the resurrection of Christ (literally, the Christ, that is, the Messiah, God's Anointed Prophet, Priest, and King). In other words, Peter declared Jesus to be the messianic King. Because God raised Him up, He was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

2:32. Again Peter emphasized that God is the One who raised up Jesus from the dead. He and all of the 120 who were gathered in the Upper Room were witnesses to His resurrection. First Corinthians 15:6 states that having appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve, Jesus also was seen by more than 500 men and women. It is reasonable to surmise that some or all of those now gathered for prayer were among the 500 who had seen the resurrected Christ.

This was important. The elders of the Sanhedrin knew the tomb of Jesus was empty, and the soldiers who were set to watch it told them of the angel who rolled back the stone. But they spread the story that the disciples came by night and stole the body while the guard slept. Peter made no reference to this story, but the crowd had undoubtedly heard it. Actually, it was ridiculous to believe that a Roman guard or even temple guards would sleep on duty and that the Roman seal could have been broken by disciples who had fled when Jesus was arrested. Now the people were faced, not by a few fearful disciples, but by 120 who were firsthand witnesses to the fact of Christ's resurrection, and who were filled with power through the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

2:33. Christ's resurrection, however, was only part of a process whereby God, by His right hand of power, raised Jesus to an exalted position of power and authority at His right hand. (Both by and at His right hand are indicated in the Greek.) This is also the place of triumph and victory. By paying the full price, Jesus won the battle against sin and death. He remains at God's right hand. (See Mark 16:9; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20, 21; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22.)In Christ, believers also are seated "in heavenly places" (Ephesians 2:6). Because this is their position in Christ, they do not need their own works of righteousness to claim His promise. There can be no higher position than they already have in Christ.

Next Peter used Christ's exalted position to explain what had just occurred. Now at the Father's right hand, He had received from the Father the Promise of the Spirit and poured out the Spirit, as the crowd had seen and heard as the 120 spoke in other tongues. The outpouring of the Spirit was evidence that Jesus was actually exalted at the Father's right hand.

Before His death Jesus told the Twelve that it was necessary for Him to go away in order for the Comforter to come (John 16:7). Though the baptism in the Spirit is the Promise of the Father, Jesus is the One who pours it forth. God is the Giver; Jesus, the Baptizer. There is clear distinction between the Persons of the Trinity here.

2:34, 35. That none of this could apply to David is further evidenced by another quotation from Scripture. David did not ascend into the heavens as Jesus did, but he prophesied that exaltation of Jesus in Psalm 110:1. Again, David could not be speaking of himself for he said, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Making enemies a footstool signified complete and final defeat, a total triumph over them. (See Joshua 10:24 where Joshua had his generals put their feet on the necks of the conquered kings.) Jesus also referred to Psalm 110:1 in Luke 20:41-44 where He recognized that David called his greater Son "Lord." (See also Matthew 22:42-45; Mark 12:36, 37.)

The resurrection and ascension of Jesus are inseparably linked. Though they were separated by 40 days, they are both important elements of the redemption act. (Hebrews 9:12, 24 also emphasizes that Christ's entrance into heaven was necessary for the completion of the believer's redemption.) Jesus was not simply raised from the dead, He was raised to the right hand of the Father where He is now exalted. In John 17:5 Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify Him with His own self, with the glory which He had before the world was brought into being. This was accomplished when Jesus rose and ascended to the place of authority in heaven which is His by right of His eternal sonship.

2:36. The conclusion Peter drew is that all the house of Israel needed to know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom they (the Jerusalem residents) crucified, both Lord and Christ (Messiah, God's anointed Prophet, Priest, and King).

In fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, Jesus is the Lord on whom all must call for salvation. Paul also recognized that God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every other name (Philippians 2:9). The Name in the Old Testament Hebrew always means the name of God. (The Hebrew has other ways of referring to the name of a human being without using the word the, so whenever the Hebrew uses the with the word name it refers to the name of God.) The Name stands for the authority, person, and especially the character of God in His righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, goodness, love, and power. Lord was used in the New Testament for the name of God. Mercy, grace, and love are part of the holiness, the holy Name by which Jesus is recognized as "Lord," the full revelation of God to man.

2:37. The response to this manifestation of the gift of prophecy was immediate. The listeners were pierced to the heart. No longer were they saying, "What does this mean?" Peter's words from the Holy Spirit stung their consciences. They cried out to him and to the other apostles (who were evidently still standing with him), "Brothers, what shall we do?"

They did not feel completely cut off, however. Peter had called them brothers, and they responded by calling the apostles brothers. Their sin in rejecting and crucifying Christ was great, but their very cry shows they believed there was hope.

2:38. Peter answered by calling them to repent, that is, to change their minds and fundamental attitudes by accepting the change required. This would produce a renewing of their minds as well as a change in attitude toward sin and self.

The repentant ones could show that change of mind and heart by being baptized in the name of Jesus. A survey of New Testament passages discussing water baptism for believers reveals it is described in various ways. In verse 38 the phrase "in the name of Jesus Christ" employs the preposition epi with the dative case. Matthew 28:19 reads "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" and uses the preposition eis ("in, into") along with the Trinitarian confession. Acts 8:16 and 19:5 use the phrase "in (eis) the name of the Lord Jesus" while 10:48 shows "in (en) the name of the Lord" (KJV) or "in the name of Jesus Christ" (NIV), depending on the Greek manuscripts being followed. (Modern versions translate the Greek differently either in an attempt to clarify what is meant or because the manuscripts which serve as a basis for the translation show numerous variants at these passages.) The various Greek prepositions which are used do not greatly change the meaning of the phrase "in the name of Jesus." It may be understood to mean upon the authority of Jesus. (For similar uses of this phrase in Luke's writings see Luke 9:49; 10:17; Acts 3:6, 16; 4:7; 9:27.)

This baptism would also be for (eis) the forgiveness of sins. Eis here means "because of" or "with a view toward" just as it does in Matthew 3:11 where John baptized "because of" repentance. John baptized no one to produce repentance. Rather, he demanded works demonstrating true repentance.

SOURCE: The Complete Biblical Library Commentary - Acts.  Copyright © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.


The Moody Bible Commentary: Acts 2:22-38

The Reference to Christ (2:22-36)

(1) His Life of Power (2:22)

2:22. His miraculous works proved Jesus is the Messiah. Peter used three different terms to describe Jesus' works. The word miracles identifies the supernatural element of Jesus' works; wonders describes the effect of the miracle on the witnesses; and signs indicates the purpose of the miracle. It is significant that no one protested Peter's statement, since many of those present had been eyewitnesses to Jesus' miraculous works. During his earthly life, Jesus used His divine power to authenticate His messianic claims by healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, casting out demons, and even raising the dead. If Jesus' miracles had been suspect, someone would have challenged Peter's claim about Jesus' works.

(2) His Death and Resurrection (2:23-32)

2:23. The crucifixion was not an accident. Christ was put to death according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. Plan (boule) refers to God's unchangeable purpose when used in reference to His will (BAGD, 182; see Heb 6:17). Yet Peter implicated both Jews and Gentiles in Christ's death. Longenecker states that nowhere in the NT is the paradox of Christian history put more sharply than in the death of Jesus. Though the crucifixion was determined by God's purpose and foreknowledge, it was executed through the instrumentality of wicked men exercising their free will (Longenecker, "Acts," 207). The Bible teaches but does not explain the paradox of God's sovereignty and human freedom.

2:24-28. In spite of the intentions of godless men, God raised Jesus from the dead. It was impossible for death to hold Him. Moreover, His resurrection fulfilled the prediction in David's prophetic Word. Peter quoted Ps 16:8-11, and in particular, Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay (2:27). There David declared his confidence in his own resurrection because he knew that God would not allow His "Holy One," the future Messiah, to decay in the grave. Psalm 16 uses first-person pronouns throughout except for Ps 16:10b, where the only non-first-person construction is found ("Holy One," not "me"), suggesting that both David and Peter saw in Ps 16 a reference to the resurrection of someone other than David and in whom David placed the hope of his own resurrection.

2:29-32. The passage must refer to someone other than David because he is buried in Jerusalem. Peter called David a prophet because he confidently predicted God would fulfill His promise that one of his descendants would rise from the dead and also rule forever (Ps 132:11-12; cf. 2Sm 7:12-13). In addition to Scriptural evidence for the resurrection, Peter gave personal evidence. We are all witnesses, he said. In 2:31, Peter reiterated themes from 2:27, but in v. 31, Ps 16:10a is now applied to Jesus in His resurrection rather than to David's confidence in the "Holy One" for his own resurrection. But if David's hope of resurrection was founded upon the resurrection of the Holy One, then what can be said of David's future resurrection can be applied to the Holy One Himself.

(3) His Exaltation (2:33-36)

2:33-36. The exaltation proved Jesus is the Messiah.

2:33. The authority for Jesus to send the promised Holy Spirit derived from the exaltation. Christ always possessed the rights of divine authority, but in His exaltation He received the right to exercise the power and authority of His deity.

2:34-35. Peter again quoted from David for scriptural support. The point from Ps 110:1 is that Jesus, not David, is the one seated at the right hand of God, a position of unique honor and authority. Some maintain that Peter's citation of Ps 110:1 indicates that Jesus is already ruling upon the throne of David. But Peter did not cite Ps 110:2, which makes explicit the exercise of Messiah's future lordly rule upon the earth. Peter cited the psalm to support Jesus' exalted status as Messiah, not to express a particular function of the Messiah (such as ruling on the throne of David) during the present age.

2:36. Verse 36 is the high point of Peter's sermon. Jesus' miraculous works, His resurrection, and His exaltation indicate overwhelmingly that He is both Lord (a common title for God and applied to Jesus in Acts; see 4:33; 8:16; 15:11; 16:31; 21:13; 28:31) and Christ (the Messiah, the "Anointed One" who rescues Israel and all humankind). This was a shocking conclusion for his Jewish audience, who did not comprehend the triunity of God. Peter's conclusion reflects the high Christology of the early church, which believed that Jesus was God because of the historical evidence. Their Christology was based on personal conviction of what they knew was true, not wishful thinking.

The Reaction of the Crowd (2:37)

2:37. It is not surprising that Peter's audience experienced emotional trauma. The expression pierced to the heart is used figuratively for the feeling of sharp pain due to anxiety or remorse (BDAG, 415). They were not merely intellectually convinced, but spiritually convicted of their dilemma.

The Appeal of Peter (2:38-40)

2:38. Peter's answer to the anguished question of his countrymen is good news, yet raises some controversial issues about the relation of repentance, forgiveness, and baptism. The Jews were familiar with John's message emphasizing repentance and baptism (see the comments on Mt 3:5-12). On the imperative verb repent, Louw and Nida write, "Though in English a focal component of repent is the sorrow or contrition that a person experiences because of sin, the emphasis [in the Gk. words "to repent" and "repentance"] seems to be more specifically the total change, both in thought and behavior, with respect to how one should both think and act. Whether the focus is upon attitude or behavior varies somewhat in different contexts" (L&N, 509). Peter was calling the hearers to change their minds about their participation in and approval of the crucifixion of Jesus. Darrell Bock notes that repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. One cannot turn to Christ in faith for forgiveness without also turning away from reliance upon something else. He proposes, however, that there is a distinction between faith and repentance: "Repentance stresses the starting point of the need for forgiveness, whereas faith is the resulting trust and understanding that this forgiveness comes from God, the one turned to for the gift (Acts 20:21)" (Acts, BECNT [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007], 142). Peter introduced two new elements. First, he said baptism must now be in the name of Jesus. This means a commitment to and identification with Jesus as Lord and Christ. For an explanation for why the name of the triune God is not used in the baptismal formula here, see the comments on Mt 28:18-20. Second, he promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit Himself, as in 2:23 ("the promise of the Holy Spirit" is the Spirit Himself), and not the "gifts" that the Spirit gives to believers.

Some believe that both repentance and baptism are required for the forgiveness of sins (baptismal regeneration). This view, however, is inconsistent with the overall teaching of Scripture. In addition, in Lk 24:47; Ac 3:19; 10:43; 13:38, and 26:18, forgiveness (aphesis, the same Gk. word translated with "forgiveness" in each verse) is promised without baptism to those who respond appropriately (i.e., with faith or repentance). The grammatical construction of the sentence does not support the idea that baptism is essential for salvation. The command to repent is plural ("all of you repent") as is the word your in for the forgiveness of your sins, forging a close connection between repentance and forgiveness. On the other hand, the command be baptized is a third person singular verb, implying that baptism is not directly connected to forgiveness. As in 10:47-48 and 16:33, baptism is the appropriate response for those who have found salvation in Christ, but it is not the means effecting that salvation.

Others believe in a second work of the Spirit after conversion, usually signified by speaking in tongues. The context, however, suggests the reception of the Spirit is a one-time experience. No mention is made about the 3,000 who believed speaking in tongues (though admittedly this is an argument from silence—but sometimes the silence is deafening), nor is the laying on of hands mentioned as the means for conveying the Spirit as a gift to others, nor for enabling others to speak in tongues.

Clearly, the apostles were believers prior to their reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Nevertheless, this does not teach that all believers must receive the Holy Spirit subsequent to their salvation experience. Rather, the described events demonstrate the transition from the way the Holy Spirit worked in the OT, to the Spirit's work in the NT church. In the OT, the Holy Spirit came upon some believers to empower them for a limited time to accomplish a specific task. In the NT, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells all believers (Jn 14:16-17). The falling of the Holy Spirit on the apostles marked the transition to the new way the Holy Spirit would work.

SOURCE: The Moody Bible Commentary; by Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham; © 2014 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Database © 2015 WORDsearch.



Miracles, wonders, and signs (v. 22)—Miracles show the power of God. Wonders emphasize the response of people who witness miracles. Signs are intended to point back to God.

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

Repent (v. 38)—In the New Testament, repent means to change one’s mind in the sense of turning away from sin and self and turning to God (Jesus), making God (Jesus) the center of one’s life.

BAPTISM:  The immersion or dipping of a believer in water symbolizing the complete renewal and change in the believer’s life and testifying to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the way of salvation.

Jewish Background:  As with most Christian practices and beliefs, the background of baptism lies in practices of the Jewish community. The Greek word baptizo, “immerse, dip, submerge” is used metaphorically in Isaiah 21:4 to mean, “go down, perish” and in 2 Kings 5:14 for Naaman’s dipping in the Jordan River seven times for cleansing from his skin disease. The radical Qumran sect which produced the Dead Sea Scrolls attempted to cleanse Judaism. The sect laid great emphasis on purity and purifying rites. These rites normally involved immersion, though the term baptizo does not seem to appear in their writings. It is quite possible that such a rite was used to initiate members into the community. Along with the rite, the Essenes at Qumran emphasized repentance and submission to God’s will.

At some point close to the time of Jesus, Judaism began a heavy emphasis on ritual washings to cleanse from impurity. This goes back to priestly baths prior to offering sacrifices (Lev. 16:4,24). Probably shortly prior to the time of Jesus or contemporary with Him, Jews began baptizing Gentile converts, though circumcision still remained the primary entrance rite into Judaism.

John’s Baptism: John the Baptist immersed repentant sinners: those who had a change of mind and heart (John 1:6,11). John’s baptism—for Jews and Gentiles—involved the same elements later interpreted in Christian baptism: repentance, confession, evidence of changed lives, coming judgment, and the coming of the kingdom of God through the Messiah, who would baptize with the Spirit and with fire (Matt. 3:11). John thus formed a purified community waiting for God’s great salvation.

Jesus’ Baptism:  John also baptized Jesus, who never sinned (Matt. 3:13-17; John 1:13-16). Jesus said that His own baptism was to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). Thus Jesus acknowledged that the standard of life John demanded was correct for Himself and for His followers. In this way He was able to identify with sinful mankind and to be a model for others to follow. In this way Jesus affirmed John and his message. The coming of the Spirit and the voice from heaven showed that Jesus represented another point in God’s revelation of Himself and formed the connection between baptism and Christ’s act of redemption.

Christian Baptism: John’s baptism prepared repentant sinners to receive Jesus’ baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire. (Note that Jesus did not do the water baptizing; His disciples did—John 4:1-2.) Jesus’ baptism and the baptizing by His disciples thus connected baptism closely with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus comes into a life, the Holy Spirit comes with His saturating presence and purifies. He empowers and cleanses the believer in a spiritual baptism. The main differences between John’s baptism and Jesus’ baptism lie in the personal commitment to Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ baptism (John 1:33).

A thorough study of the Holy Spirit is helpful to understand what “baptism with the Holy Spirit” means (John 1:33). The sequence of baptism and the coming of the Spirit into individual lives will show some differences (Acts 8:12-17). The usual sequence of events is: the Spirit comes into a person’s life at conversion, and then the believer is baptized. The Holy Spirit is the gift who comes with salvation (Acts 2:38) and is its seal (Eph. 4:30). The Holy Spirit saturates the new Christian’s life. Or we might say that Jesus baptizes the new Christian by plunging the person into the Holy Spirit’s presence and power (John 14:16-17; Acts 11:15-16).

To be baptized is to clothe oneself with Christ (Gal. 3:27 NRSV, NIV). Baptism refers to the suffering and death of Christ (Mark 10:38-39; Luke 12:50). Christian baptism is in a sense a sharing of this death and resurrection and all that brought Christ to those events (Rom. 6:1-7; Col. 2:12). Baptism shows that a person has died to the old way of life and has been raised to a new kind of life—eternal life in Christ (Matt. 28:19-20; Col. 3:1; 2 Tim. 2:11). The resurrection from the water points to the Christian’s resurrection also (Rom. 6:1-6).

Believers’ Baptism:  In the New Testament baptism is for believers (Acts 2:38; 8:12-13,36-38; Eph. 4:5). Water apart from personal commitment to Christ makes no difference in the life of anyone. In the New Testament baptism occurs when a person trusts Christ as Lord and Savior and obeys the command to be submerged in water and raised from it as a picture of the salvation experience that has occurred. Baptism comes after conviction of sin, repentance of sin, confession of Christ as Lord and Savior. To be baptized is to preach a personal testimony through the symbol of baptism. Baptism testifies that “ye are washed… ye are sanctified… ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

Church Practice: The church has attempted to build its practice upon that of the New Testament but has not found agreement always as to what the practice was. Several church groups practice the baptism of infants. This necessarily moves away from immersion to sprinkling as the mode. They have tried to justify infant baptism on the basis of the baptism of households (Acts 11:14; 16:33; 18:8), by connecting Christian baptism with Jewish baptism of Gentile converts which may have included baptism of children, and by interpreting Christ’s saying in Mark 10:4 as indicating an invitation to bring young children or infants into the church. Others have tried to see continuity between the covenant theology of the Old and New Testaments joined by the rites of circumcision and baptism, so that if introduction into the Jewish covenant community was through circumcision of the infant, so introduction into the Christian community would be through baptism of the infant. Most New Testament scholars find these arguments as fitting the practice of the church rather than resting on strong exegetical grounds, for the New Testament emphasized the connection of faith and baptism.

The setting of baptism is often restricted to a church setting with an ordained person. In the New Testament baptism takes place in varied settings wherever there is another person to do the baptizing (Acts 8:36-39; 9:18; 10:47-48). Both Jesus and Paul let others do the baptizing, so that the restriction of baptism to a leading professional minister does not seem to be the New Testament practice.

Rebaptism:  Scriptural baptism (baptism because of belief in Christ) occurs once. Sometimes people are baptized again because they feel they were not saved when they were first baptized. If that was the case, the first baptism simply wasn’t scriptural baptism. Others are baptized because something changes in their beliefs—other than their salvation experience—and they either want to be or are urged by someone else to be rebaptized. The purpose of baptism was never to affirm each change in beliefs. For example, Apollos got his understanding corrected, but no mention is made of his rebaptism (Acts 18:24-28). The disciples grew spiritually and changed in understandings, but no mention is made of their rebaptism. Christians are to become learners along with their baptism, but no mention is made of any need to rebaptize them if they were scripturally baptized the first time. Rebaptism in the New Testament seemingly occurred only when a group of people never had received the Holy Spirit, who is the seal of salvation (Eph. 4:30; see also Acts 1:4-5; 2:38,41; 8:12-13,36-39). Although the dozen people focused on in Acts 19:1-7 had John’s baptism, they were then properly scripturally baptized as they trusted in Jesus and received the promised Holy Spirit.

Baptism and Salvation:  Baptism is not a requirement of salvation, but it is a requirement of obedience. Baptism is a first step of discipleship. Although all meanings of baptism are significant, the one that most often comes to mind is water baptism as a picture of having come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. Baptism is never the event but, rather, the picture of the event. So the pattern of obedience is to come to Christ in trust and then to picture that through the symbol of baptism.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.





By Jerry N. Barlow

(Jerry N. Barlow is associate professor of preaching and pastoral work, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana.)

Drunk! These people are drunk! amazed onlookers shouted. Others questioned what it all meant. But in the clamor and confusion of the scene, one person stood to confront the crowd. His name was Peter, a fisherman by trade. Yet when Peter spoke, the fisherman became a fisher of men, and some say Christian preaching began.

What is Christian preaching according to Peter? Are his discourses in Acts sermons or speeches? If sermons, what form did Peter follow and what themes did he preach? How do his messages compare with each other and with first-century apostolic preaching?  Answers vary and scholars disagree, yet who can ignore the important impact then and today of the man Peter and his messages! 1

Peter's discourses are found in the first half of Acts (see Acts 2-5; 8-12; 15). He has 8 of the 24 speeches that contain almost a third of the verses in Acts.2 But scholars do not agree on which, if any, of the 8 are sermons. For example, preaching history writer David Larsen considered all 8 speeches as preaching by Peter, while 0. C. Edwards, Jr. did not identify any as the original sermons.3 Since many comrnentaries and study Bibles label parts of Acts as Peter's sermons, how can we decide what Luke, the probable writer of Acts, thought were Peter's sermons? One way is to look for characteristics in Peter's discourses common to first-century Jewish and Christian preaching. Lawrence Wills described such preaching as an oral form in three parts: an exempla (an introduction of authoritative evidence such as scriptural quotations), a conclusion (drawn from the exempla), and an exhortation (usually in the imperative). Wills used Paul's sermon in the synagogue service at Antioch of Pisidia (see Acts 13:14-43) to illustrate the first-century sermon form: exempla - Israel's early history reviewed with reference to Jesus (I 3:16- 37); conclusion - Jesus is Savior (13:38- 39); exhortations warning to beware (13:40-41).4

What Peter spoke to the crowd in Acts 2 fits the first-century three-part sermon pattern. Peter began by quoting from Joel 2:28-32 and then from Psalms 16 and 110 with reference to Jesus (Acts 2:14-35, the exempla). Peter's conclusion was that Jesus is "both Lord and Christ" (2:36). The exhortation given was to repent and be baptized in Jesus' name (Acts 2:38-39).5 Peter's response to the crowd about the lame man’s healing (3:12-26) also shows this sermon form.

Another characteristic of first-century apostolic preaching was its con- tent. What makes Christian preaching Christian is Christ, and first-century apostolic preaching proclaimed the gospel of Christ, the kerygma.6 Paul gave the essence of the gospel as Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection seen by witnesses (I Cor. 15:3-8). He also stated that he and the apostles preached the gospel so others might believe in Jesus and be saved (15:1-2,10-1 1). Did Peter preach the gospel?

In Acts 2, we can spot parallels to the I Corinthians 15 statements of Christ’s death (Acts 2:23-24,36) and resurrection (2:24,30-32). Peter also alluded to Christ's burial (2:26,29,31) and affirmed that these events were witnessed (2:32). Peter did the same in Acts 3:12-26 (see 3:13-15); 4:8-12; 5:29-32; and 10.34-43. Because Peter proclaimed the gospel, some scholars call these Acts passages "missionary sermons." How do these "sermons" differ? How are they similar?

Peter's messages vary in setting. In Acts 2 and 3 Peter preached to a crowd. In Acts 4 and 5, he addressed a council, the Sanhedrin (a Jewish court of 71 members under the direction of the high priest). 7 In Acts 10 he spoke to a Roman centurion named Cornelius, who had relatives and friends present. The different settings did not change the gospel content of Peter's messages, but the "content" of the context changed Peter's preaching style.

Peter preached to Jewish hearers in Acts 2-5, but he spoke to a Gentile group in Acts 10. He thus used Old Testament Scripture differently in Acts 2 compared to Acts IO. To Jews in Acts 2, he quoted Scripture and appealed to its authority (or "proof"), as did Paul (see 13:14-43) and Matthew (for example, Matt. 1:22-23). But to the Gentiles of Acts 10 Peter referred generally to "the word, which God sent unto the children of Israel" (10:36, KJV).

Another sermon style difference was how Peter presented Christ in his preaching to Jews versus Gentiles. Peter referred in Acts 2:22 to Jesus' miracles as signs showing Jesus to be the Messiah.8 But in Acts 10 Peter did not argue scripturally for Jesus to have the Greek messianic title of Christ. Instead, Peter summarized Jesus' earthly ministry and emphasized the universal lordship of Jesus (10:36-41), similar to Mark's Gospel presentation of Jesus.9 Why? Peter adapted his preaching to his hearers.

Effective preaching "connects.” Both Peter and Paul connected with Jewish hearers through preaching Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. With Gentiles, the gospel connection came through knowing God (see Paul's sermon on Mars' Hill, Acts 17:16-34) and being saved in the face of death (the Philippian jailer, 16:25-34). Peter's message to Cornelius made both Gentle-type connections: Jesus is Lord (10:36) and judge of the living and the dead (10:42); forgiveness comes through Jesus (10:43).

Effective preaching also communicates. Peter's messages were clear and simple in style. His content was not complicated in words, figures of speech, or sentence structures used. Peter logically developed his messages with objective facts (they took Jesus, crucified Him, and put Him to death, 2:23) and not with subjective material.10

Peter preached with a personal style. His messages often used the first person in references: for example, "we all are witnesses" (2:32, NIV). Peter sometimes blended the third person in address with the second person: for example, "men of Israel" and "among you” (2:22, NIV). He also used the term “brothers" in addressing his Jewish hearers (2:29; 3:17, NIV). Like Jesus, Peter did not separate himself from those who needed to hear the gospel.

Like Jesus, Peter preached with urgency. The mood of his messages was not casual or contemplative. You fail to find where Peter said, "Why don’t you give the gospel some thought?" His content exhorted hearers to act! Imperatives urged hearers to respond! (See 2:38; 3:19.) Urgency characterized Peter's preaching due to Christ's man- date ('He commanded us to preach," 10:42, NIV); the blessings of salvation (for example, forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, 2:38; 3:19); and Peter's eyewitness experiences (4:20). Urgency led Peter to warn and to plead (2:40), yet he did so with respect. For example, even when he faced persecution and possible execution, Peter addressed his hearers respectfully as rulers and elders of Israel (4:8).

Peter's preaching had impact. Hearers reacted and responded to his messages. Why? What factors made Peter's messages move hearers to action?

Impact in preaching can come as a result of form, content, sermon style, and delivery. Certainly, the factors of form, content, and style already discussed aided the impact of Peter's messages-but what about his delivery? Quite likely, energy, eye contact, and extemporaneous delivery often characterized Peter's preaching. His personality and the electric atmosphere in the situations where he spoke probably energized his messages and hearers. How could anyone preach to crowds numbering thousands (2:5-6,41) or to a council threatening grave harm (4:17; 5:33,40) and not be emotionally charged? Yet, were these the keys to the impact evident in Peter's messages?

Impact means power. Peter had power beyond the factors of form, content, sermon style, and delivery. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus assured Peter and the other disciples that they would receive power through the coming of the Holy Spirit on them (1:8). What power a Spirit-infused preacher and message have! Acts mentions that the Spirit filled or directed Peter: Acts 2:4; 4:8,3 1; 10: 19; 11: 12.

After having received the Spirit at Pentecost (2:4), the apostles continued to experience "a fresh endowment of power" by being filled with the Spirit.11 The result of being filled was that the apostles witnessed and preached the Word of God with boldness and power (4:31,33).12 And that included Peter and his preaching! Peter preached a powerful Word (the gospel "is the power of God for ... salvation,” Rom. 1:16, NIV) with powerful impact! But the impact of Peter's messages was aided by another factor.

Peter was not a formally educated person. He was a fisherman who was 11 unschooled" and "ordinary" (Acts 4:13, NIV), but who became an extraordinary, powerful preacher. How? As the members of the Sanhedrin realized, Peter and the other apostles "had been with Jesus" (4:13, NW). Preaching with impact results when the Spirit empowers a prepared preacher!

During Jesus' time with Peter and the other disciples, Jesus taught them the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). He pre- pared them to know and give witness to the gospel (24:46-48). The impact of Peter's messages came as a result of a preacher prepared spiritually ("filled with the Spirit") and homiletically (he knew the Scriptures).

Peter's understanding of God's Word also contributed to the breadth of his preaching. Themes evident in Peter's messages include these: Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 2:36; 3:18), Jesus is Lord (2:36; 10:36), the gospel (2:23-24,32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30-32; 10:39-41; 15:7), salvation through Jesus (2:38; 3:19-26; 4:10-12; 5:3 1; 10:43; 15:1 1), the gift of the Holy Spirit (2:33,38; 5:32; 10:38,44-47; 11:15-18; 15:8),the fulfillment of prophecy (2:16-36; 3:18-26; 4:10-12; 10:43), the providence of God (2:23; 3:18-21; 10:42-43; 15:7), the inclusive grace of God (2:39; 3:25-26; 10:34-35; 11:16-17; 15:7-11), and repentance and faith (2:38; 3:16,19; 5:3 1; 10:43; 11:17-18; 15:7-1 1). One interesting point is Peter's use of Scripture in the fulfillment of the prophecy theme. Scholars believe that Peter used scriptural quotes in a "pesher fashion," meaning that he emphasized the fulfillment of prophecy without explaining the details of the prophecy (for example, 2:16-21).13

Many scholars believe that we have only summaries of Peter's actual messages in Acts and that Luke used a common structure for the Acts discourses. Yet to read Acts is to see the Peter of the Gospels, a fisherman carrying out his Lord's commission: "Feed my sheep" (John 21:17, NIV). And from Luke's presentation of Peter's messages, we find these principles for Christian preaching:

·         Preach Christ and the gospel of Christ - construct evangelistic sermons from Scripture.

·         Preach to connect-consider the hearers and the sermon situation.

·         Preach to communicate - use clear and uncomplicated sermon content and construction.

·         Preach with urgency and power- prepare spiritually and homiletically.

In other words, Christian preaching with impact will be biblical, Christ-centered, relational, and Spirit-anointed. Is this the preaching you hear--or do?                          Bi

1. New Testament professor John Polhill wrote that no one, except Christ, was more prominent in the New Testament than Peter. See John Polhill, "The Life of Simon Peter," Biblical Illustrator, Winter 1987, 67.

2. John B. Polhill, 'Acts' in The New American Commentary, vol. 26 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 43.

3. David L. Larsen, The Company of the Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998), 48-49; 0. C. Edwards, Jr., "History of Preaching" in Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching. Larsen listed these Scriptures in Acts under "Peter as a Preacher': Acts 1:16-22; 2:14-36; 3:12-26; 4:8-12,19-20; 5:29-32; 10:34-43; 11:5-17; 15:7-11.

4. Lawrence Wills, "The Form of the Sermon in Hellenistic Judaism and Early Christianity," Harvard Theological Review 77, # 3-4 (1994): 278-280.

5. 1bid. 286-287.

6. For an amplified discussion of the gospel, see W. T. Edwards, Jr., “The Kerygma," Biblical Illustrator, Winter 1993,29-32; or C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Development, (New York: Harper and Row, 1964),7-35.

7. For more information on the Sanhedrin, see Polhill, “Acts," 140-141.

8; The term "approved" (KJV) or “accredited”(NIV) is used of someone appointed to an office, in which case Jesus' miracles showed Him to be God's appointed Messiah. See Polhill, "Acts," 111-112.

9; Acts 10 may be evidence for Peter's involvement with the writing of Mark's Gospel, See Richard B. Vinson, “Peter's Influence on Mark's Gospel," Biblical Illustrator, Winter 1995, 16-19; See Richard N. Longenecker, “Acts” in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981), 393.

10. Warren W. Wiersbe and Lloyd M. Perry, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984),14-15.

11. Polhill, "Acts," I 50.

12. The biblical word laleo, translated as "spoke" in Acts 4:31 NIV, is also translated as “had preached" (Acts 14:25, NIV) or "to preach" (Acts16:6,    KIV).

13. See Longenecker. Acts, 275, 279.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 27, Number 1; Fall 2000


Baptismal Practices In The Early Church

By: Martha Bergen

Martha Bergen is associate professor of New Testament, Hannibal-LaGrange College, Hannibal, Missouri.

The word baptism carries with it the idea of a religious ritual signified by water. While baptismal practices may occur in non-Christian circles, Webster defines baptism as “a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community." 1

The Bible reveals that ceremonial washings occurred in both Old and New Testament eras (see Ex. 29:4; Lev. 14:8-9; Mark 7:3-4; and John 2:6) and served as a means of purification. During New Testament times, various sects and Jews who proselyted used water in their baptismal rituals and even immersed foUowers.2 The Greek word for "baptism" is baptisma and is based on the verb baptize, meaning "to immerse or submerge.”  The term baptisma, unique to Christian literature, refers to John's baptism or Christian baptism.3

Christian Baptism

The baptism John the Baptist practiced led the way for Christian baptism. Like Christian baptism, his baptism was connected to a person's repentance and forgiveness of sin. Nevertheless, it differed in two ways. John's baptism did not signify a person-al faith in Jesus Christ, nor did it signify the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the new believer (contrast Mark 1:4 with Acts 2:38). The foundation of Christian baptism is John's baptism of Jesus, the God-man who serves as an example for all humankind. An examination of Jesus' baptism reveals two significant occurrences: He was declared God's Son, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. Another basis for Christian baptism is Christ's mandate found in Matthew 28:18-20, the "Great Commission," which includes baptizing others in the name of the Trinity.

In the early church, baptism was indicative of a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ, following his conversion to Christianity. Baptism by immersion symbolized Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. The candidate's being sub- merged into the baptismal waters represented his own "death and burial" to self and sin and his "resurrection" to a new life under Christ's lordship (see Rom. 6:3-8). Many also see an eschatological significance, pointing to the bodily resurrection of Christians when Christ returns to earth and establishes His eternal kingdom. Not all Christians, however, have agreed on the manner and meaning of baptism. Even the early church fathers raised differing concerns regarding this topic.

Concerns and Issues Associated with Baptism

The church has had to address baptismal practices throughout its history.

Mode of Baptism. The means of baptism has been an issue throughout church history. What is the appropriate mode or method of baptism? Some have accepted immersion as the only justifiable mode, while others believe affusion (pouring) or sprinkling water over the head is valid. Those adhering to immersion support this mode as symbolizing Christ's death, burial, and resurrection and base their support on passages Re Romans 6:4. Baptists support this view, highlighting the climactic work of Christ. Those who favor pouring or sprinkling often use the argument that baptism depicts more than just Christ's death, burial, and resurrection; but rather, the whole of His ministry, basing their position on passages such as Galatians 3:27.

Infant Baptism vs. Believer's Baptism. Another issue is who can be baptized. Baptists have always stressed the significance of believer's baptism, baptism that results from one's personal faith and trust in Christ. An individual, though sinful from conception, must come to the realization of his need for Christ (see Rom. 10:9- 1 0). Infant baptism, therefore, contradicts this principle. Those supporting infant baptism, however, make reference to the baptism of households (note Acts 16:33), as well as to Christ's appeal to children as part of His ministry (see Matt. 19:14). While infant baptism was, by the fifth century, a common practice, some believe it may have originated because of the desire to safeguard children in the event of a premature death.4

Triune Baptism vs. Single Baptism. A third issue concerns the number of times one should be baptized. Triune baptism corresponds with the three Persons of the Godhead and as such must occur three times for baptism to be valid. Some believe, based upon Acts 2:38, that earliest Christian baptisms used the formula of "in the name of Jesus," whereas the trinitarian formula resulted from Christ's final commission (Matt. 28:19). 5 Others suggest the use of Christ's name would refer to one's confession associated with baptism, rather than a prescribed formula for baptism. The debate over triple versus single immersion is reflected in the practice of eastern and western churches today-the former practicing triple immersion and the latter using a variety of practices.6 Baptists baptize into the three Persons of the Godhead but do so with single immersion.

Baptismal Preparations and Ceremonial Practices

Early Christian worship practices probably somewhat paralleled Jewish patterns. However, they received a new perspective in light of Christian conversion. Worship was a means of instruction whereby its elements (baptism included) were teaching tools. While one's conversion to Christianity almost immediately resulted in baptism and seemingly had little to no instruction (see Acts 16:11-15), the encounter of Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch gives evidence that instruction did occur in some instances (note Acts 8:30-38) and should not, therefore, be dismissed. 7

Though texts throughout portions of the New Testament mention baptism, the Scriptures offer no evidence of a pre- scribed formula for its preparation and practice. However, supplemental sources, for example the Didache and Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, give evidence that moral instruction, fasting, and prayer preceded the actual event. Teachings from the Didache allowed pouring water onto the head three times if running water was not available. Cold water was preferable to warm water. Both the baptizer and the one to be baptized were to fast for two days prior to the event, along with others who were able.8

By A.D. 200, an established ceremony was in place. The candidate, having gone through a season of instruction (possibly up to three years), faced a verbal examination prior to his baptism. At the time of baptism, believers offered prayers beseeching the Holy Spirit into the baptismal waters. On the eve before Easter, the candidate would undress, renounce Satan, and be anointed with oil. This was known as the "oil of exorcism," which was to strengthen the candidate in his final struggle with Satan.9 As he stood in the water, the candidate confessed his faith in each Person of the Godhead, being immersed after each confession. Afterwards he was anointed, dressed, and anointed a third time before a "laying on of hands.  At this point the candidate received the kiss of peace from the congregation, followed by participation in communion. 10

Baptism and Circumcision

Around the time of Christ, Jews accepted Gentile converts and began to baptize them. Yet circumcision remained the chief means into Judaism. Baptism has often been compared to the circumcision event. However, this analogy is flawed. Only males are circumcised, whereas both males and females are baptized; moreover, while circumcision concerns the "flesh:' baptism concerns the "heart" and is thus spiritual. God's promise in Christ is to "spiritual Israel," not the 'Israel of the flesh." Those who are spiritual Israel are so because of their faith. 11

The early church demonstrated faith as it practiced Christian baptism. First and last it pointed to Jesus Christ, the one who was baptized to “fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15, NIV) and who expects His followers to do likewise, giving testimony of their relationship to Him.                                            Bi

1. See "Baptism' in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, loffi ed. (Springfield, MA: Meuiam-Webster, Incorporated, 1993),91.

2. A- Hamman, 'Baptism: Baptism in the Fathm' in Encyclopedia of the Early Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992),107.

3. Lars Hartman, "Baptism' in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, David N@l Freedman, ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 583.

4. Everett Ferguson, 'Baptism' in Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (New York: Gariand Publishing, Inc., 1990),133.

5. R. P. Roth, 'Baptism (Sacramentarian View)' in The Zondewan Pictorial Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids, Zond@an Publishing House, 1976), 465.

6. Ferguson.

7. James E. Reed and Ronnie Prevost, A History of Christian Education (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1993), 73.

B. Didache, chapter 7, Charles H. Hoole. trans. http://www.earlychristianwrifings.com/text/didache-hoole.html.

9. Hamman, 108.

10. Ferguson, 132.

11. Johnnie Godwin, "Baptism,” and Chris Church, "Infant Baptism” in Holman Bible Dictionary (Nashvilia, Holman Bible Publishers, 1991), 150, 696.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 2004.



By Kevin C. Peacock

Kevin C. Peacock is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.

”Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me.  You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; . . . Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field.” – Ex. 23:14-16, NASB

The Pilgrimage Feasts of Israel

The Mosaic law prescribed three annual pilgrimage feasts for Israel: Passover/Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest/Weeks, and the Feast of Ingathering/Tabernacles.  On these occasions all Israelite males were to appear at the sanctuary with a gift of gratitude to the Lord.  Usually sacrifices were given to the Lord and the priests received a portion.  The pilgrimage feasts, however, were celebration meals with family and friends, eaten in fellowship with God as the meal’s special guest.  The worshipers would look back in gratitude, remembering what God had done. 

Every Israelite male was required to attend each festival (Ex. 23:17), but by the first century AD devout Diaspora Jews throughout the world tried to come to Jerusalem annually for at least one of them.1 Among these pilgrims were Jewish proselytes and God-fearing Gentiles (Acts 2:10; compare John 12:20-21; Acts 18:21, KJV; 20:16).2

The first feast of the Jewish calendar was Passover/Unleavened Bread, held in the spring at the beginning of the harvest of barley planted in winter (Ex. 23:14-15).  The priests offered unleavened bread cakes as a “wave offering” of these firstfruits of the crop (Lev. 23:11).3 At this point the Israelites were to count “seven weeks” after beginning the barley harvest (Deut. 16:9-10), the time in early summer to begin harvesting wheat (Ex. 34:22).  The day after seven weeks had passed, on the 50th day, the Israelites were to bring a “new grain offering” to the Lord and celebrate the Feast of Weeks (Lev. 23:15-16).  The firstfruits of the wheat crop anticipated a fuller harvest at the end of the agricultural year, to be celebrated at the third festival, “the Feast of the Ingathering” or Tabernacles (Ex. 23:16).4

A Festival of Many Names

The second feast is known by different names: “the Feast of the Harvest” (23:16), “the Feast of Weeks” (34:22; Deut. 16:10), and “the day of the first fruits” (Num 28:26).  Because it came on the 50th day after Unleavened Bread, later Greek writings called it “Pentecost,” meaning “fiftieth” (compare Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor. 16:8).  Jews today refer to it as Shavuot, the Hebrew term meaning “Weeks.”5

Several Old Testament texts describe the feast (Ex. 34:22; Lev. 23:9-22; Num. 28:26-31; Deut 16:9-12).  The Israelites were to give according to their ability (v. 10) and to rejoice before the Lord, remembering how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt (vv. 11-12).  As a community they were to present to the Lord two loaves of leavened bread, seven male lamb, one young bull and two rams as a burnt offering, grain and drink offerings, one male goat for a sin offering, and two lambs as peace offerings (Lev. 23:17-20).  They were to hold a “sacred assembly” and do no work on that day (v. 21; Num. 28:26).

The Meaning of the Feast

The worshipers presented the firstfruits of their harvest to the Lord out of gratitude to the provider of all of their needs (Deut. 16:11).  The people were not to eat anything from the harvest until the Lord had received their first and best (Lev. 23:14).  Thus they trusted Him for the harvest yet to come.6

The entire community was to be involved in the celebration (Deut. 16:11), everyone being vitally important in this time of thanksgiving.  Even the servants were valued participants because the Israelites remembered how they were once slaves (v. 12; compare 15:15).

Unlike the Feast of Unleavened Bread the loaves offered at Weeks were to be normal bread bakes with leaven (Lev. 23:17).  Unleavened bread reminded Israel of the haste of leaving Egypt (Ex. 12:34,39), but Weeks reminded Israel as a settled community that the Lord provided for their everyday needs.  Thus they should help supply the needs for the poor and the non-Israelites in their midst (Lev. 23:22).

The rabbis associated Weeks with the covenant and law given at Sinai.  The Israelites arrived at Sinai, entered into covenant with the Lord, and received His law “in the third month” after leaving Egypt (Ex. 19:1).  Later King Asa called a great assembly to renew the covenant with the Lord “in the third month” (2 Chron. 15:10:13).  The only festival “in the third month” of the Hebrew calendar is Weeks, so the rabbis by the second century BC and the Qumran community associated it with the covenant and law given at Sinai.7

Throughout the Old Testament era, God’s people kept the traditions associated with the Feast of Weeks.  In the New Testament, however, this Feast of Pentecost took on a whole new meaning.

The Feast of Weeks and the New Testament Pentecost

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1, NASB).  During this feast the Lord poured out His Spirit on His followers.  Is there any connection between these two Pentecost events?

The renewal of the people of God – God created a new community of faith at Pentecost (vv. 42,44) just as He had created a “nation” at Sinai centuries earlier (Ex. 19:3-6).  The Jews celebrated Weeks as a time of covenant renewal, and Acts presents the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost as “the end-time renewal of the people of God, ‘the whole house of Israel’ (“Acts 2:36,39), and the Spirit is therefore also the fulfillment of covenant promise (compare Acts 3:25).”8 God who spoke to Israel at Sinai was now fulfilling His promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh.  This Spirit was the sign of the “new covenant” established through His Son (compare Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:25-27).  Anyone who would repent, believe, and be baptized in the name of Jesus would receive forgiveness for their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).  For believers, then, the repentance, baptism, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit gave evidence of their covenant status in Christ.

An abundant harvest – The Feast of Weeks praised the Lord for an abundant harvest, symbolized by the wave offering of the two loaves (Lev. 23:17).  Peter seemed to have this harvest motif in mind when he quoted the prophet Joes (Acts 2:17-21; compare Joel 2:28-32).  Joel spoke in a day when Israel lost a harvest due to a terrible plague of locusts (1:1-12).  God pleaded for His people to return to Him with all their hearts (2:12-17) – then He would replace the lost harvests with His abundance (v. 25).  He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh (v. 28) and offer salvation to everyone (v. 32).9 At Pentecost God did just that – God restored His people and brought a great harvest of three thousand souls (Acts 2:41), including Jews and Gentiles (vv. 10-11).  This harvest was merely firstfruits of a greater harvest to come.  These gathered peoples were a testimony to God who sought a harvest of souls from all the peoples of the earth.

The promise of firstfruits – Offering firstfruits to the Lord at the harvest’s beginning was an expression of faith for the Israelites, trusting God for the harvest to come.  Paul described the gift of the Holy Spirit as “first fruits” (Rom. 8:23, NASB), the beginning of the harvest.  Interestingly, at Pentecost God, not worshipers, gave the firstfruits.  As such, He pledged to His people even greater things to come (compare 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14).  When Christ comes again, believers will receive His full harvest.  Those who possess His Holy Spirit can thus be certain that one day they will reap all the blessings that await them.10

The Book of Ruth and the Feast of Weeks

By Kevin C. Peacock

Jews traditionally read the Book of Ruth in the synagogue service during the Feast of Weeks.  The Hebrew Bible places Ruth in “the writings” after the Book of Proverbs (not after Judges), specifically in a grouping of five smaller books (the “Megilloth”) to be read at festivals (Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and Esther).  The story begins at the time of Unleavened Bread when Ruth entered Bethlehem “at the beginning of the barley harvest” (1:22, HCSB), and climaxes at the threshing floor during the wheat harvest (the Feast of Weeks).  Boaz was a godly man, faithful to observe God’s law.  Ruth was a Gentile who by her faith became a vital part of the chosen people of Israel (vv. 16-17).  God used her faithfulness to bring forth Israel’s favorite king, David (4:18-22), and ultimately the Messiah (Matt. 1:5). 

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 32, Number 3; Spring 2006.

1 Diaspora Jews scattered away from their homeland because of persecution or natural migration.

2 F. F. Bruce, New Testament History (Garden City: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1980), 140-141.

3 A “wave offering” was a portion lifted up before the Lord (for example, Ex. 29:24-27).

4 John Durham, Exodus, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco: Word, 1987), 333.

5 Some rabbinic sources refer to this feast as atseret, probably meaning “the concluding feast [of Passover].” See Nahum M. Sarna, “Exodus” in The JPS Torah Commentary, The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS translation (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1991), 145; Josephus referred to this feast as Asartha. See Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews in The Works of Josephus Complete and Unabridged, William Whiston, trans. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1987), 3.10.6.

6 Allen P. Ross, Holiness to the Lord (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 417.

7 Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions, John McHugh, trans. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 494.

8 A. T. Lincoln, “Pentecost” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids, eds. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 906.

9 L. McFall, “Sacred Meals” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, eds. (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 752.

10 Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 61-63.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 32, Number 3; Spring 2006.




(5.193) What is the Answer To & Where in The Bible is This Week’s Trivia Question Found  The fertility god of Canaan is mentioned more than any other foreign deity in the Bible.  The prophet Ilijah and, later King Jehu of Israel, worked hard to stamp out his cult.  What was his name?  Answer Next Week:  

Last Week’s Question: ?  What fish-shaped god of the Philistines was disgraced with his statue was broken by the presence of the ark of the covenant?  Answer:  Dagon; Judges 16:23; 1 Samuel 5:1-5; 1 Chronicles 10:10.