Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

by Mike Ratliff

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:14-21 ESV)

Thus began the Apostle Peter’s sermon following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost just 10 days following our Lord’s Ascension. I am going to walk through this sermon with you so that we can see how the Gospel works when preached with power and with the right focus. Who is being glorified in vv14-21 above? Is it the preacher Peter? Is it those prophesying? Is it those responding? No, it is God who is causing this to happen through the moving of His mighty hand. What will be the result as Peter summarizes in v21? Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Here is that verse from Greek, “και εσται πας ος εαν επικαλεσηται το ονομα κυριου σωθησεται.” The ESV’s rendering of “calls upon” translates επικαλεσηται the Aorist, Subjunctive, Middle form of ἐπικαλέομαι or epikaleomai, which, in this context, is making use of the name of the Lord in adoration as Lord and Saviour. This is a turning to Him for salvation from the hour of judgment and wrath to come. That is how Peter opens his sermon. Let us see the rest.

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know–

23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.

27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,

31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all 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 yourselves are seeing and hearing.

34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand,

35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:22-36 ESV)

Peter began with the glorification of God with the proclamation of the coming of the Holy Spirit and what that meant and that there was salvation in Christ Jesus from the coming judgment. Then in this part of the sermon he explains that Jesus Christ, whom the Jews were guilty of killing or at least agreeing to His murder, was the one prophesied by David to be their Messiah. He proved that He was the Messiah by rising from the Dead after being in the Tomb three days and nights. In v33 Peter again gives evidence of the reason for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Then in v36 Peter again lays the guilt of Jesus’ murder at the feet of those hearing this sermon. Think with me my brethren. For whom did Jesus come to die? It was to purchase a people for Himself. All in Christ are in this group. All of us in Christ are just a guilty of Christ’s death on the Cross as these Jews so let us not cast that stone at them without first looking at our own desperate need of a Saviour.

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:37-41 ESV)

Now we come to the part where the Gospel message has done its work. Peter has preached it. The Holy Spirit has cut to the heart those who are to be saved. The Greek word translated here as “cut” means “pierce” or “stab.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit to lay the guilt, grief, remorse, and intense spiritual conviction upon these people’s hearts. They were stunned. I remember when God did this to me. It is very hard to explain yet those who are our true brothers and sisters in Christ know what the regeneration process is like when that gift of faith comes and we suddenly know the truth about our lostness and our total inability to stand justified before God without the advocacy of the Son of God. It is heart rending. I can relate to their cry, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Now we come to v38. I received an email not long ago that contained this sentence and nothing more, “because Christ is sufficient for salvation what about Acts 2:38 and the Greek EIS?

Here is v38 from the Greek, “πετρος δε προς αυτους μετανοησατε και βαπτισθητω εκαστος υμων εν τω ονοματι ιησου χριστου εις αφεσιν των αμαρτιων υμων και λημψεσθε την δωρεαν του αγιου πνευματος.”

Here is my translation, “But Peter said to them, “repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The main verb in v38 is μετανοησατε which is translated as “repent.” In the Greek this word refers to the initial repentance of a sinner unto salvation. The words “be baptized” translates βαπτισθητω and is in the indirect passive imperative of βαπτίζω or baptizo, which means that it does not have the same force as the direct command of “repent.” The ESV renders “for” in its translation of εις or eis, which is a primary preposition. The way the ESV and other English bibles render this it almost sounds like baptism is necessary for the remission of sins, but as we look at the Greek, it is obvious that this is not the case. Here it would best be translated as “unto” or as I did as “because of.” Literally, it means “for the purpose of identifying you with the remission of sins. This same preposition is used in 1 Corinthians 10:2 in the phrase “and were all baptized unto [eis] Moses.” These people were identifying themselves with the work and ministry of Moses. Repentance is something that concerns an individual and God, while baptism is intended to be a testimony to other people. That is why βαπτισθητω is in the passive voice indicating that one does not baptize oneself, but is baptized by another usually in the presence of others.

Peter then closed this sermon by exhorting the people to repent and believe and be baptized into the Church and about three thousand did so.

Now, did Peter worry about hurting people’s feelings? Did he concern himself with just being the Gospel instead of preaching it? You know the answer. Go and do likewise.

Soli Deo Gloria!

5 thoughts on “Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost « Possessing the Treasure -- Topsy.com

  2. Amen, Mike. I was just reading this morning about the gospel is the power of God. Nothing else in scripture is said to have this power on earth, except the Lord Jesus Himself. (see 1 Cor 1:18; Romans 1:16 and 1 Cor 1:24) I read this in a great little book called, A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. He reminds believers of what the gospel is, and what all is ours because of it. Thank you Mike for continually bringing this out—we all need to read and hear it, over and over again. Whether saved or unsaved, we all need the gospel! It is the power of God!!

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  3. Hi Mike, 🙂

    Great article, and you know there isn’t a message I’d rather hear or read than what Christ has done for me. I don’t tire of it because it gives me joy and glorifies God when we remember and rejoice in all that Christ has done for us. Just like you shared about regeneration, when you are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and realize you have broken God’s holy law and there is nothing you can do to save yourself and you experience the weight of that guilt and then you realize your need for a Savior… that is what needs to happen. Why pastors have such unbelief in the power of the gospel message and prefer to tone it down and/or change it so as not to offend or upset people is so unfortunate because that is what the gospel message needs to do….offend, I know they have to know that from their bible reading… the scriptures are so clear, yet they do not seem to think it important to preach it.

    Thanks and may the Lord continue to bless you.

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