Preaching the Gospel at Pentecost

by Mike Ratliff

14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:“Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘ And it shall be in the last days, ’ God says,
‘ That I will pour forth of MY Spirit on all mankind;
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 bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of MY Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
19 ‘ And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
20 ‘ The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
21 ‘ And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:14-21 NASB)

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, “καὶ ἔσται πᾶς ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται.” The NASB’s rendering of “calls on” translates ἐπικαλέσηται 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, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. 25 For David says of Him,
‘ I saw the Lord always in my presence;
For HE is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.
26 ‘ Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted;
Moreover my flesh also will live in hope;
27 Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades,
Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
28 ‘ You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with Your presence. ’
29 “ Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘ The Lord said to my Lord,
“ Sit at MY right hand,
35 Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet.”’
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:22-36 NASB)

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 pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “ Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “ Repent, and each of you be baptized 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 your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “ Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:37-41 NASB)

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, “Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.”

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 μετανοήσατε 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 βαπτισθήτω 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 NASB renders “for” in its translation of εἰς or eis, which is a primary preposition. The way the NASB 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 βαπτισθήτω 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!

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