Acts 2:36-41

Context is key! And the context of Peter’s salvation message that you just read is absolutely amazing. So here’s a little flashback:

Previously in Acts:

Acts is written by Luke, the same writer of the gospel of Luke that you are reading for your devotional times. It’s really like Luke part 2. It tells the story of how the church begins after the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

In Acts 1, Jesus tells his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for his Spirit to come so they can be witnesses “in Jerusalem (and eventually) to the ends of the earth.” When the Spirit comes they’ll have the full good news of salvation for the first time ever.

Acts 2 We don’t have to wait long. In this very next chapter the Spirit comes in a way that would be impossible to miss. There is a sound like a rushing wind from heaven and tongues of fire come and rest on each of the 12 apostles. Peter (who was given the keys to the kingdom – Matthew 16:13-20) stands up and starts preaching. 

The message is so important that the Holy Spirit translates what he says into all the languages of those in the crowd (speaking in tongues). We can also see the importance of this message in God’s timing. This happens during the festival of Pentecost when Jews from all over the world would be in Jerusalem to hear the message in their native tongues and bring it back to their countries all over the world!

Peter uses Old Testament prophecies to explain that Jesus was the promised savior, that our sin killed him but that he didn’t stay dead, and all who believe this can be saved and have the hope of new life now and at the resurrection to come. That’s the gospel! (Seriously, read this amazing sermon Acts 2:14-36.)

Verses 36-41 are the conclusion of his sermon, the people’s response, and the action taken. So, what happens when the gospel is preached for the first time?

  • 2:36 We see what saving faith entails: Believe that God made Jesus Lord (master) and Christ (anointed savior). He must be both: not just savior, but master also. And our sin crucified him. Hey! We studied that!
  • 2:37 The first hearers of the gospel believed, were convicted in their hearts, and responded with an awesome question: “What shall we do?” (Often people today have a slightly different response to the gospel. They say, “This is what I’ll do.” Instead of being open to what the bible says, they set limits on what a “reasonable” response might be.) Um, don’t do that!
  • Acts 2:38 Peter’s answer is clear: Repent and be baptized.  That’s our response! We’ve seen repentance and we’ll dive into baptism in a moment. (Pun intended!) He says “every one of you,” speaking to the people who believed. And then (this is so cool!) he links repentance and baptism to the forgiveness of sin. Remember, salvation comes when our sin is removed! We don’t earn salvation by believing, repenting and being baptized but it is in this response that Christ’s saving work produces forgiveness. On top of all that, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – a guarantee of our salvation and a helper as we live out our faith and repentance. Wow!
  • Acts 2:39 Now Peter uses covenant language. He calls his message a promise like that of Abraham, Moses or David. This is the New Testament, the new promise, and no other promise has come to supplant it. This message was for them, their children and for all who are far off – hey, that’s us!
  • Acts 2:40 This is a salvation message and he is urgently pleading for them to respond with saving faith. People might use other scriptures to talk about salvation but this is the most important.
  • Acts 2:41 3,000 people respond to the first sermon ever preached by getting baptized and the church (that we’re still a part of) is born!

Amazing, right!?! Now you know exactly what the bible says about how we become Christians. But, maybe you’ve still got questions about baptism…