Believers Praise God Acts 2:32-33, 37-47

I. We Are Witnesses (Acts 2:32-33)

“God has raised up” (verse 32) — Reference Acts, 2:24; 10:40; 17:31; 1 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 1:20. That God did so attests to His approval of Christ’s work on the cross, and thusly “we are all witnesses.” The early preachers, all of them in the Book of Acts, preached the resurrection (see for yourself in Acts 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31). (MacArthur Study Bible)

II. The People’s Response to Peter (Acts 2:37)

“They were pricked in their heart” — It is here that Luke uses a term that literally means “to be stabbed (with a knife).” It came to be used to express deep anxiety or profound regret. This is the only time the word is used in the New Testament. (Zondervan Illustrated)

But observe also that such a conviction of the heart (spirit) prompted them to an appropriate response, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Oh, how I would that more people would respond favorably and likewise upon hearing the gospel preached today. My, how many more souls would be saved and “added to the church daily!”

III. Peter’s Message: Repent and Be Baptized (Acts 2:38-41)

Likewise note that the conviction of the heart to the preached word lead to spiritual conversion and consequentially baptism! “They” (verse 37) refers to those who received the word, crying, what shall we do? Peter’s answer is cogent and clear in the light of other Scriptures, for repentance, “a change of mind and attitude,” is the negative aspect of that faith in Christ which is clearly implied. Baptism in itself could not procure the forgiveness of sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit, but was the outward sign of a new attitude which abjured the crime of the great rejection and placed the confessors on the side of the Messiah. “In the name of Jesus Christ” (verse 38) shows that the converts confessed Jesus as Messiah and participated in the fulness of their Lord and Savior.

By the phrase “for all who are far off” (verse 39), Peter understood the dispersed as well as Palestinian Jews, and the promise was for the humble-minded who escaped from the corrupt generation of rebellious Israel, forming a faithful remnant of witnesses. (NIV Bible Commentary)

IV. The Genesis of Christian Unity (Acts 2:42-47)

Luke begins describing the early church by telling us that the believers in it were distinguished by their devotion to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship with one another, to “breaking of bread,” and “to prayer.” The verb translated “devoted” connotes a steadfast and single-minded fidelity to a certain course of action (reference its use in Acts 1:14 regarding devotion to prayer by the 120 in the upper room and in 6:4 regarding the apostles’ resolve, in the context of the Hellenistic widows, to center their attention on prayer and the ministry of the word).

“The apostles’ teaching” or “doctrine” (KJV) refers to a body of material considered authoritative because it was the message about Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed by accredited apostles. It undoubtedly included a compilation of the words of Jesus (note Acts 20:35), some account of his earthly ministry, passion, and resurrection (reference Acts 2:22-24), and a declaration of what all this meant for humanity’s redemption (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-5) — all of which was thought of in terms of a Christian “tradition” that could be passed on to others (also 1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; and 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6).

Luke’s reference to “the fellowship” implies that there was something distinctive in the gatherings of the early believers. With the influx of three thousand on the Day of Pentecost and with daily increases to their number after that (Acts 2:47), they must have had some externally recognizable identity. Perhaps in those early days others thought of them as a “Synagogue of Nazarenes” and gave them a place among other such groups within the mosaic of Judaism. But the Christian community was not just a sect of Judaism, even though they continued to observe Jewish rites and customs and had no intention of breaking with the nation or its institutions. They held to the centrality of Jesus of Nazareth in the redemptive program of God and in their worship. Their proclamation of Jesus as Israel’s promised Messiah and the Lord of the human race set them apart in Jerusalem as a distinguishable entity.

Just what is meant by “the breaking of bread” in verse 42 has been often debated. Suggestions are that it was a type of Jewish fellowship meal, a paschal commemoration of Christ’s death, or an agape feast that emphasized the joy of communion with the risen Lord and of fellowship with one another.

Central Text: And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. — Acts 2:42

Dr. Wayne M. Williams and his wife of 40 years, Lita, reside in Athens.

Dr. Wayne M. Williams and his wife of 40 years, Lita, reside in Athens.

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