Peter preaching the Gospel at Pentecost

by Mike Ratliff

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’ Acts 2:14-21 (NKJV) 

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 NKJV’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, 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; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him:
I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 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.
34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:22-36 (NKJV) 

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, “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. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. Acts 2:37-41 (NKJV) 

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, “Men and brethren, 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 NKJV renders “for” in its translation of εἰς or eis, which is a primary preposition. The way the NKJV 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!

One thought on “Peter preaching the Gospel at Pentecost

  1. I have come to believe that a faithful proclamation of the gospel will shed the light of Christ’s glory such that those He is calling to Himself WILL be convicted by the Spirit and we need not the Law of Moses as the hammer to drive them down. Those religious legalists can do with a bit of Law, just as Jesus and Paul used it.


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