Birth of the Church

Acts 2:1-41

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
July 2013

Today, we come to the most important event in the Book of Acts.  It is one of the most important chapters in the Bible.   It records one of the most amazing miracles in the Bible.

It is a miracle that never took place before and has never taken place since then.  It is a unique miracle.  It has never been repeated in exactly the same way.   There is no modern-day Pentecost, although people may still speak in tongues today.

This is a favorite chapter of many people. Pentecostals get the name of their denomination from this chapter.  The chapter mentions the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit fell on people.  They spoke in tongues, not privately but publicly.

People are filled with the Holy Spirit.  They are baptized in the Holy Spirit and people started suddenly speaking different languages that they couldn’t speak before.  They spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance.  You have the first speaking in tongues and Holy Spirit baptism in this chapter.

There are miracles in this chapter.  Supernatural things take place in this chapter.  The chapter begins with a miracle, a linguistic miracle, a language miracle, the miracle of miraculous speech.

The chapter begins with a miracle and it ends with not just some but MANY miracles, signs and wonders done by the apostles (Acts 2:43).

Acts 2 is important because the church started in this chapter.  God began something brand new.  It never happened before. The first church started.  It started over two thousand years ago in the city of Jerusalem.

The church began and we see what a healthy church looks like in this chapter.  The first church in many ways was a model church.  It looks a little different from churches today.

It was a growing church.  It was a biblical church.  They followed the apostle’s doctrine.  It was a charismatic church.  Everyone agrees on that point.  It was also a unified church.  They were one heart and mind.  Churches today are divided about everything.  We have little unity today.  Church fights are common.

Acts 2 describes the very first sermon ever preached in the early church.  It was a powerful sermon.  It was preached by the Apostle Peter.  It was a short sermon.  It was an extemporaneous sermon.  It was a biblical sermon.  Peter quoted Scripture.  It was a Spirit-filled sermon.

It resulted in a Jewish revival.  It resulted in mass conversion.  Three thousand people get saved.  That is a big altar call and a lot of people get baptized.  Baptist love this part of the story.

Those who believe in baptismal regeneration also love this chapter.  They have a favorite verse in it.  It is Acts 2:38.  The Church of Christ uses that verse as a proof-text to teach that you have to be baptized to be saved.  This chapter is important.  It is controversial.  It is also misunderstood.

What exactly is taking place in Acts 2? The place is Jerusalem.  The setting is a holiday celebration.  People from all over the world are in Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday.  It is a Jewish holiday called Pentecost.

The time is fifty days after Passover.  Jesus died on Passover.  This is almost two months later in the same city  Something amazing took place.  There are three things that happened on Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit was Given

The first reason that Pentecost was important is that the Spirit was given on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost.  That is the first important thing about Pentecost.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them (2:1-2)

What happened here?  God showed up.  The Holy Spirit came and they could tell that He showed up.  He filled the whole house.  His presence was in the whole house.  You could feel the presence of God on Pentecost and you could see it.  If the Holy Spirit shows up in your church, you will be able to tell as well.  You will know if God is there.

In this case, there were physical manifestations of the presence of the Spirit.  There were two signs of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and they were the signs of FIRE and WIND.  One sign was audible.  You could hear it (a powerful wind). One sign was visual.  You could see it (a ball of fire).

Now these are just similes.  The Holy Spirit is not wind and fire.  It was “the sound LIKE a rushing might wind” and it says that there appeared to them “tongues AS of fire.”  It wasn’t literal life.  Their heads were not on fire but it looked like fire.

This fire and wind was not natural.  They were completely supernatural.  Acts 2:1 tells us where the wind and fire came from.  “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came FROM HEAVEN.”  It did not come from earth.

These are common indications of the presence of God in Scripture.  Fire also represents the presence of God.  God often manifests himself in fire in the Bible.  The Bible describes God as “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).

God appeared to Moses in a burning bush.  There was fire on Mount Sinai when God gave the Ten Commandments.  A pillar of fire led the Israelites as well to guide the Israelites.

Wind also symbolizes the presence and power of God.  This is not a little breeze this is a strong powerful wind (“rushing mighty wind” KJV).  The Hebrew and Greek words for spirit and wind are the same. The Holy Spirit is the wind of God.

Of course, the Holy Spirit is a person and wind is a force but there are many similarities between the two.  Both are invisible.  Both are immaterial.  The Holy Spirit does not have a body and wind does not have any shape or form.  Both are sovereign.  Jesus said that the wind blows wherever it wants to (John 3:8).  It is unpredictable.

Both are also powerful.  Some winds reach three hundred miles per hour (tornadoes).  It is so powerful that it often cannot be controlled by people.

The Holy Spirit is also powerful.  Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”  When the Spirit is at work, He can bring the most hardened sinner to Christ.

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and He came in way that He never came before.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you FOREVER—  the Spirit of truth.  (John 14:17).

What is the big difference between the way the Holy Spirit minister before Pentecost and the way he ministered to people after Pentecost?

 Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the OT

1. In the OT, the Holy Spirit came WITH or ON people for a particular ministry.

He came on Samson and Samson was able to tear a lion apart with his bare (Judges 14:6).  He came on Saul and Saul began to prophesy (I Samuel 10:10).  The Spirit came on Gideon and he blew a trumpet (Judges 6:34).

2. In the OT, when the Spirit came on people, it was temporary.

The Spirit came on Saul and eventually left King Saul (I Samuel 16:14).  That is why David prayed, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11).

In the OT, the Spirit would fill people temporarily.  Now He indwells them permanently.  Jesus said that He would send us the Holy Spirit and He would dwell with us FOREVER (John 14:17).

The Church was Started

The second reason that Pentecost was very important is that the church was started on Pentecost. The baptism of the Holy Spirit took place for the first time.  Not only did the Holy Spirit indwell believers, He baptized believers.

Acts 2 does not mention Holy Spirit baptism at all but we know for sure that it took place it Acts 2.  We know that from Acts 1:5.  Jesus said, “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

 The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

What does it mean to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?  If you ask a Pentecostal, you will get a very different answer than if you ask a Baptist.

Who is right? How do we know who is right? It is very easy to tell which side is basically right.  All you have to do is to read the Bible without any theological presuppositions. Read every passage on the subject and you will find out what it means.

There are only seven verses to look up. When you look them up, this is what you will find. The Bible never talks about Holy Spirit baptism.

Baptism as a noun is never used in connection with the Holy Spirit but the verb “baptize” is used seven times in the NT in connection with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5 & Acts 11:16; I Corinthians 12:13).

Six of those times it refers to Pentecost (what would happen on Pentecost or what already did happen on Pentecost).  It is only mentioned one other time in the Bible and that is in I Corinthians 12:13.

Summary of the Biblical Evidence

1) The church is the body of Christ.  That is the definition of the church in the NT.

Colossians 1:18 says, “And he is the head of the body, the church” (NIV).  Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body” (NIV).  The church is defined as the body of Christ in Scripture.

2) People are placed into that body when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit.

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13 KJV).

What does it mean to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?  I Corinthians 12:13 is the only verse in the Bible tells us what the baptism of the Spirit means.  It means to be placed INTO the body of Christ.

Luke does not tell us that but Paul does. Paul is the only one who explains what the baptism of the Spirit actually does.  Luke was not a theologian.  He was a physician and a historian.

3) Every Christian is baptized with the Holy Spirit,

Because every Christian by definition is a part of the body of Christ, according to Scripture, every Christian MUST be baptized with the Holy Spirit

Many churches make a distinction between the baptism of the Spirit and salvation.  They would say that you can be saved but not baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Only the really spiritual people who speak in tongues are baptized in the Spirit but that would contradict I Corinthians 12.  Every person in the body of Christ has been baptized by the Spirit.  In fact, that is how you get into the body.

4) If you are baptized in the Holy Spirt, there will be some signs of it.

In Acts, people who were baptized in the Holy Spirit demonstrated some outward, visible signs of the presence of the Spirit.  Many spoke in tongues but that is not the only sign.

There are ten recorded conversions in the Book of Acts (Acts 2:37-41; 8:5-6, 12-13, 17, 35-38; 9:17-18; 10:42-48; 16:14-15, 30-34; 18:8; 19:1-6). Speaking in tongues follows the conversion experience in only two of those conversions (Acts 10:46; 19:6).

In Acts 2, there was also speaking in tongues but that was not done by the people who responded to the salvation message,  It was done before they heard it.

That is one sign of salvation and of the Holy Spirit but it is but it is not the only sign in Scripture.  There are other signs, such as incredible joy (Acts 13:52), supernatural boldness (Acts 4:31), power to evangelize (Acts 1:8).

The Holy Spirit came on seven people in the Book of Acts.  People were filled with the Spirit and baptized in the Spirit.  In four of those cases, there is NO reference to tongues (4:31; 8:17; 9:17; 13:9).

Jesus was filled with the Hoy Spirit but He never spoke in tongues.  It is one sign of filling and Holy Spirit baptism but it is not the only sign.

5) There is no command for Christians to get the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

There is no command in Scripture for saved people to get a deeper spiritual experience called “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

Many believe that subsequent to salvation believers need to receive a second work of grace but there is no such command for believers.

If you are a believer, you have already received EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).  God has NOT blessed us with a few spiritual blessings.  He has NOT blessed us with many spiritual blessings.

He has NOT blessed us with most spiritual blessings. Paul says that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us in Christ with EVERY spiritual blessing.

At some point you will be asked if you have received the second blessing.  We have not only received not the second blessing.  We have received the third, the fourth the fifth blessing and many more in Christ.

6) The baptism of the Spirit took place for the first time on the day of Pentecost.

It took place there for the first time at Pentecost.  No one in the OT was ever said to be baptized in the Spirit.  It is a NT concept.  It never took place prior to Pentecost.

Acts 2 does not specifically mention the baptism of the Holy Spirit but we know that it had to take place in that chapter by comparing Acts 1 and Acts 11.

In Acts 1, Jesus said, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5).  

In Acts 11. Peter said, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 11:15-16 NIV).

7) Therefore, the church started on the day of Pentecost.

Pentecost is the birthday of the church.  The church began at Pentecost.  That fits what Jesus said.  Jesus said in the Gospels “I WILL build my church” (Matthew 16:18).

He did not say, “I am building My church” or “I have built my church” but “I WILL BUILD (future tense) my church.” There was no church in the Old Testament.  There was no church in the Gospels.  The first church was in the Book of Acts.

John the Baptist was the first one to predict the baptism of the Spirit (Matthew 3:11).  Joel predicted that the Holy Spirit would be active during end times (Joel 2:28-29) but did not specifically mention the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Christian Received Power

The third reason that Pentecost was important is that the church received power on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit did not just INDWELL people at Pentecost and BAPTIZE people, He FILLED people.

When He filled people, there was power. Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit came, they would have power. They would have extraordinary spiritual power for ministry (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).

What is missing in many churches and many Christians is the Holy Spirit.  There are some churches that you can go to and you do not experience God.  There are other churches you walk into and you can tell that God is at work in the place as soon as you walk into the door.

You can go to some churches that have good preaching and good music.  Everything is orderly and regimented but the Holy Spirit is not present.  Lives are not changed.  Nothing miraculous is taking place.  That was not the early church.

Three Kinds of Power

What did that power look like?  What kind of power did they have on Pentecost?  They did not have physical power (like the Power Team).  They had spiritual power and that spiritual power enabled them to do three things.

1. The Power to Witness

Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; AND YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES.” That is very clear.  Once you receive power, you will be able to witness.

The first type of power is the power to win souls.  This is a completely different person from the Peter we saw fifty days earlier.  Peter now has the Holy Spirit inside him, and he is filled with the Holy Spirit.

This is the same Peter who fifty days earlier denied Jesus. After saying at Gethsemane, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35). After Jesus was arrested, he was asked if he spent time with Jesus and he denied it repeatedly with an oath and even swore that he did not know Jesus (Matthew 26:69-74). How is Peter completely different now that the Holy Spirit has come?

He is not ashamed of Jesus at all.  He stands up and preaches a sermon about Jesus to thousands of people.  How do we know he preached to thousands of people?  Thousands of people responded to his sermon.  It was the most powerful sermon ever preached.

Acts 2:41 gives the result of Peter’s sermon.  Three thousand added to their number.  What was their number before this?  It was 120. The church went from a membership of 120 from a membership of 3120 in one day from one sermon.

That is evangelistic power.  In our day, church membership is often declining and shrinking.  The first church didn’t have that problem.  The church of Jerusalem was booming.  It was skyrocketing because the Holy Spirit was working.

Peter was not a great orator.  He was a fisherman by trade but now this fisherman is full of the Holy Spirit and he has no fear of public speaking.  He is no longer ashamed of Jesus.  He spoke to thousands of people about Jesus.  He was not shy.  Peter has a courage he never had before.

He preaches this sermon in the very city that killed Jesus fifty days.  It was not in a warm, friendly receptive audience.  He tells a Jewish audience that they had just murdered their Messiah.  He is bold.  He is confrontational.

Peter is not doing lifestyle evangelism here.  He is doing confrontational evangelism. He said to them in 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.

The KJV says “God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” but Christ is the Greek term for Messiah. The nation had been waiting for the Messiah for thousands of years.  When he finally comes, they kill him.  Peter contrasts what they did and what God did to Jesus.  Peter says, You crucified him.”

You nailed him to a cross but God raised him from the dead (2:23-24).  That was incredibly bold.  The Jews did not crucify anyone.  The Romans did.  Peter put the blame on this group of Jews.  Why?  This was a national sin.  Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.  He was sent to the Jews and they rejected him.

2. The Power to Perform Miracles

We see this at the end of the chapter.  Acts 2:43 says, “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.”  They did not just have power to preach, but power to heal the sick and raised the dead.  We will see a few of those miracles next week.

The apostles take the lead in this but as you read the Book of Acts, you will see that they were not the only ones who performed miracles.  Other people in the church also performed some miracles.  As we read the rest of the book, we will see it wasn’t just the apostles who performed miracles.

3. The Power to Speak in Tongues

This was not the power to perform miracles but the power of supernatural speaking. Their speaking involved three things.

What is Speaking in Tongues in Acts 2?

1) It involved speaking a FOREIGN LANGUAGE.

When some people think of tongues today, they think of gibberish but these were real languages that people from out of town understood.

There are close to seven thousand known languages spoken in the two hundred countries of the world today.  The disciples in Acts 2 were speaking known languages.  How many languages did they speak?  Luke does not tell us.

Luke mentions fifteen groups in Acts 2:9-11 but those groups are racial and geographic, not linguistic. They are peoples (Parthians, Medes, Elamites) and lands (Mesopotamia, Judea, Asia), not languages and some of these groups spoke the same language.

What we know for sure is that the tongues spoken in Acts 2 were a real foreign language. What they said had some content.  People clearly understood what they were saying.  They were not speaking gibberish.

2) It involved speaking a SUPERNATURAL LANGUAGE.

This was not just a foreign language, it was a supernatural language.  The disciples started speaking a language they had never studied before.  They started speaking a language that no one had ever taught them.  There are several words for this in English (xenogossia or xenoglossy). These were not scholars or linguists.  They were uneducated hillbillies from Galilee. They were simple fishermen.

This involved a miracle.  How were they able to do this?  It was not a language they acquired by natural means.  The text says, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues AS THE SPIRIT ENABLED THEM” (2:1). This was Spirit-inspired speech. The only reason they could do this is that the Holy Spirit supernaturally enabled them to do this.

Was this a miracle of speaking or of hearing?  Some scholars have speculated that this was a miracle of hearing. They believe that the disciples spoke in one language and what they said was understood by foreigners in their native tongue.  The problem with this theory is that the Holy Spirit fell on believers, not unbelievers.

The Spirit fell on the speakers, not the hearers. They were speaking in other tongues and they were only able to do this because the Holy Spirit enabled them to do it.  This was a miracle of speaking.  What were they saying when they were speaking in tongues?

3) It involved speaking a PRAISE LANGUAGE.

Luke says that the disciples declared the wonders of God. They praised God and praised him in a language they had never spoken before. When they spoke in tongues, they were not preaching but praising (Acts 2:11; 10:46).

What was the Purpose of Tongues in Acts?

What was the purpose of them doing this? Paul says in I Corinthians 14:22 that “tongues are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers.” What was the purpose of signs? The purpose was to get people to believe (John 12:31) and that is why tongues are a sign for unbelievers because believers already believe.

This miracle got the attention of people.  It was an attention-grabber for this international audience.  There were people in Jerusalem from all over the world for this feast.

There were people there from modern-day Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Rome, Egypt and Africa. The purpose was NOT to preach the gospel in tongues.  The only one who preached the gospel here was Peter. The disciples did not speak in tongues to do evangelism but to do pre-evangelism.

Two Reactions to Peter’s Sermon

There were two reactions to this miracle.  There was a natural reaction to the miracle (2:12) and a hostile reaction to the miracle (2:13).  The natural reaction was to be amazed and to ask What is going on?  How is this possible? What does it mean? The hostile reaction involved mocking the disciples and calling them drunk.

Peter says that the men are not drunk.  It is nine in the morning.  Peter quotes three OT passages.  He quotes Joel 2 to explain the work of the Holy Spirit.  It explained why they were speaking in tongues.  He quotes Psalm 16 to show that Jesus rose from the dead and he quotes Psalm 110 to show that Jesus ascended into heaven. What was their response?

 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (2:37)

When you preach the gospel to someone, you get a lot of different reactions.  Jesus even told a parable about this.  Some are APATHETIC.  They do not respond one way or the other.  They have no response.  Some are ANGRY.  That is what happened when Stephen preached to the Sanhedrin (7:54).  This group was CONVICTED.

It says that they were “cut to the heart”.  Someone said that it was almost as if the sword that pierced the side of Jesus stabbed them right in the heart.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, when the Holy Spirit comes, “He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (16:8)

They realize what Peter said is true.  They knew they sinned.  They knew they were guilty.  It is one thing to kill someone and feel bad.  It is another thing to kill the Messiah.  There could be no greater sin than to kill the Messiah. It is the worst crime imaginable.  What does Peter tell them to do?

 Peter replied, “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. (2:38)

Peter promised this group of people two things.  One was negative (repentance) and one was positive (gift of the Holy Spirit).  He said that they could get all of their sins forgiven. They could be forgiven by God for putting to death their Messiah.  If you can be forgiven for that, you can be forgiven for anything.

He also said that they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that they could see clearly at work in the group of 120 disciples that day but they needed to do two things.  Peter gave them two commands – repent and be baptized.  One was inward and one was outward.

Repent

On the inside, they were to repent.  What does that mean?  It means several things.

1. It means to admit you have done something wrong.

Repentance begins with confession (“I have sinned”).  If you don’t admit you have done anything wrong, you have no repented. They had to admit that they were completely wrong about Jesus.  Repentance means literally a change of mind.

2. It means to show remorse for what you have done.

If you truly repent, you should feel guilty.  If you admit you did something wrong but you do not feel bad about it at all, you have not repented.

3. It means a willingness to change what you are doing.

If someone says “Yes, I admit doing this action and I know it is wrong and I plan on keep on doing it”, that person has not repented.

Be Baptized

On the outside, they were to submit to the ordinance of baptism and to make a public profession of their faith.  The very ones who said that Jesus was a blasphemer and an impostor are now asked to publicly confess Him to be their Messiah.

1. Baptism was universal.

Peter said, “Be baptized EVERY ONE OF YOU.”  No one was to be left out.  Many seem to think that baptism is almost optional today.  Everyone was to be baptized.  Baptism was universal.  It is a command in Greek.  Both “repent” and “be baptized” are aorist imperatives.

2. Baptism was immediate.

They were to do this immediately.  Today, people often get baptized later.  It is a post-conversion experience.  It is something that you do several months or in some cases several years after you come to faith in Christ.

Peter had them get baptized the same day they repented.  Their baptism was the evidence and outward sign of their repentance. In many churches, when people want to accept Christ, they come forward in church.  In the early church, they got baptized.

3. Baptism was radical.

In our day, baptism is not a big deal but, in the Bible, it is a much more radical act.  In many parts of the world baptism is much more radical.  In communist countries, Muslim countries, the persecution begins when you get baptized and you get kicked out of the family or lose a job or get thrown in jail. In some orthodox Jewish families when a person becomes a Christian, the parents would hold a funeral service for the person.

Baptism for the Remission of Sins

Do you have to be baptized to be saved?  Acts 2:38 clearly says, “Peter replied, “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” (NIV)

A normal reading of the passage seems to indicate that baptism is a condition of salvation, along with repentance, and you cannot be saved until; you are baptized in water.  That is what some groups teach but there is a problem with this view.

Other people in the Book of Acts were clearly baptized after they were saved.  In Acts 2, baptism comes BEFORE salvation but, in Acts 10, it comes AFTER salvation.  What is even stranger is that the preacher is the same person.  The Apostle Peter was the one who evangelized both groups of people.  Peter certainly knew the message of salvation.

He preached it to Cornelius in Acts 11:14. Cornelius responded to the message.  He received it.  He received the Holy Spirit.  He began speaking in tongues.  He praised God but he had not been baptized yet (Acts 10:44-46).  He did not have to be baptized in order to receive the Holy Spirit.

Cornelius was saved WITHOUT the laying on of hands (which was how the Samaritans were saved in Acts 8).  He was saved WITHOUT baptism (which was how the Jews were saved in Acts 2).  He was saved WITHOUT circumcision (required for all Jews in the OT).

Peter did NOT preach to Cornelius a gospel of baptismal regeneration in Acts 10.  He did not tell Cornelius that he had to be baptized to be saved.  He told him that “everyone who BELIEVES in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (10:43).

To use Acts 2:38 to teach baptismal regeneration, you have to selective quote some verses from the Book of Acts and not others.  The Philippian Jailer asked, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:29-30).  Paul and Silas said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31 NIV).

That answer is perfectly consistent with the Gospel of John which was specifically written to explain how people can get saved. What did Peter mean in Acts 2:38?

Peter mentions BOTH repentance and baptism but that does NOT mean that they are equal.  It does NOT mean that they are separate and equal conditions of salvation.

Baptism functions as the outward sign of repentance.  It is a visible evidence or sign of repentance.  It is not sacramental; it is symbolic. The crucial element in the equation is what is going on in the heart, not what is taking place on the outside.

The words “and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” are clearly parenthetical.  We know that because of how baptism functions in the NT.  We also know it for the context of the passage

In the very next chapter, the same man (Peter) says “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19 NIV) without even mentioning baptism. It is repentance, not the ordinance of baptism, which blots out sins (Acts 3:19).  Baptism is just the outward sign.

 

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