February 9, 2013

The Gospel: The Power of God, Part II- A Study of Acts 2

[Continued from Part I: In continuation of the last post I will reference the Scripture again...but only the piece I need to make my point for the Word Study below.]

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Greek Word Study:

(v.36) Word: ἀσφαλῶς / asphalos “assured, certainty, beyond a doubt”. I chose this because Peter ends his sermon with this word in the last clause. Furthermore it is the very first word in the clause is ἀσφαλῶς / asphalos, therefore Luke is bringing emphasis to it locating it in the beginning of the clause since it didn’t need to be there (Rienecker et al 267). Assured or certain of what? Peter/Luke tells us right in the passage: “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” There is no doubt about this fact. There is little need for faith here. They all bore witness to Christ’s death and crucifixion, it is indeed a fact for them and Peter/Luke are drawing intense focus to this fact. The truth of sin they are subsequently convicted by causes them to repent. This is in harmony with Luke’s overall modus operandi to show the certainty (ἀσφάλειαν / asphaleian [same cognate as Acts 2:36] ) of the things Theophilus had been taught (Luke 1:4), since what Theophilus had been taught is exactly what Peter preached in Acts 2 at Pentecost. Peter’s sermon therefore ties together in parallel the promise from Jesus of the Holy Spirit/and command to baptize (Acts 1:4-5) which itself is a jump back to the Great Commission of Matthew 28 which was to carry on all the things Jesus had taught the Disciples (Matthew 28:20). Peter also shows the manifestation of what Luke wrote in Luke 24:47-49 that “(v.47) and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” they were to wait for what was promised which was…, “ (v.49) power from on high [the Spirit]”.

(v.37) Phrase: κατενύγησαν τὴν καρδίαν / katenugesan ten kardian / “cut to the heart” or more literally “their hearts were down-punctured”, kata meaning "down" and nýssō meaning "pierce" to pierce all the way down, deeply (thoroughly) pained; "emotionally pierced through"; psychologically pricked, these people were thoroughly emotionally stunned (Rienecker et al 267).

The fact in verse 36, that “the One that they were guilty of crucifying was the Messiah”…was excruciating to them and they sought the only relief from the convicting guilt of their sin. When they ask, “Brothers, what shall we do?” It is clear their hearts are already turning towards repentance.

They are appropriately convicted to the core of their being (heart) and it literally physically paining them which seems evident from the word κατενύγησαν / katenugesan. What in reality is paining them psychologically/physically is their own sin and guilt…and the answer from Peter to remedy this was to repent (turn from or change their minds from sin) and be baptized…which many did (at least 3000 that day).

Peter’s response and subsequent actions are reminiscent of speak Jesus’ Great Commission and also of John the Baptist’s words in Luke 3, “I baptize you with water. But One more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

Summary of Meaning

The people (both Christians and non) are gathered together at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes on them and they begin speaking in tongues. Many are perplexed and want to know what’s going on. Some speaking in tongues are even accused of drinking. Peter responds to the question first with an apologetic (v. 14-22) to defend the speaking in tongues. He does so from Joel of the Old Testament (v.16). Second he quite literally gives the Kerygma or preaches the Gospel after defending the believer’s behavior. This /Kerygma/Gospel Peter preaches contains the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures (Old Testament). Unlike David mentioned herein, Jesus’ body did not decay (v.31). The proof of what Peter says about Jesus was evidenced by the miracles he worked and the fact that God resurrected Him from the grave, all of these facts were known by the  people Peter preaches to. The remainder of this passage shows the sum / end result of Peter’s preaching: People convicted of their transgression (sin, putting Jesus to death) subsequently repent and are baptized which is the proper  response or outward manifestation (repentance) to the Gospel for one that is repentant and seeks forgiveness.

Implications of the Text: What it Always Means

The same implications to the Jews that Peter speaks to (1st century) apply to us today also. The universal application from this passage can be stated with cross-referenced Scripture alone as I will do in just a moment. If you want a formal stated implication of text…here it is. The general underlying principle of Peter’s apologetic and preaching still apply today.  The culture may change but the means of God’s mercy, grace and salvation remain the same as it was planned and foreknown since time immemorial (Acts 2:24) and will be so until the return of Jesus.  Peter’s pattern, is the basic pattern for calling people to repentance and forgiveness through conviction caused by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The result of those that are to be saved will be conviction of sin and a turn towards the Cross of Jesus Christ!

Because of this I will combine the next two sections of the exegetical process: Implications of the Text and Summarizing of the passage into a thesis/synopsis. It is wordy but I am dealing with a periscope of 27 verses and it is hard to encapsulate in on a limited scale. We are dealing with the truth of God’s word and eternal life here folks.

Thesis or Main Idea of Acts 2:14-41

By preaching the Gospel as Peter did, he/we obey God and fulfill the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20. It’s in Acts 2:14-41 that they/we see why Jesus commanded teaching what He taught and baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is by hearing the message of Christ that faith comes (Romans 10:17). Those that accept the Gospel will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (1st Century Jews or 21st Century Americans). The Gospel being: His Life, Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus in agreement with Scripture/Prophecy (ex: 1 Cor 15:3-4) as Peter did here. All this being God’s plan and foreknown by Him (Acts 2:23) which is evidenced through Old Testament prophecy from God in advance (Acts 2:17-21, 25-28, 34-35). Prophecies that told people that if they repented and believed…they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit promised (Acts 2:4, 33, 38).

Stated another way…

We are to love Jesus, obey His commands and Jesus Himself will ask the Father, and he will give us another Counselor to be with us forever -the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit, who is in reality a down-payment of salvation for believers that He indwells (Ephesians 1:14). The signs of this down-payment are the Fruits produced by the Spirit in a believer (Galatians 5:22-23). But as we see with the incredulous Jews that are gathered (Acts 2:13), the message of the cross is sometimes foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power [δύναμις] of God! (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is the dunamis/power that can and did resurrect Jesus from the dead…therefore it can resurrect believers too since we are in Him (and He in us) (1 Cor 1:30). Christ was the first fruits of the Resurrection so when He returns, those who belong to him will be resurrected also (1 Cor 15:23). This is because the same exact power that raised Jesus resides within believers in the form of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11).

Scope of Truth

Although Peter addresses Jews in this passage the implication of needing to repent and seek forgiveness from God is universal for all. One must be saved to have eternal life. That salvation is exclusivist. It is only possible through believing and trusting in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This applies to me or anyone else that would desire to seek entry into Heaven or into the eternal kingdom of God. That is the plan Peter refers to here: That Christ would be crucified by sinners for sinners to save sinners from there fate of eternal judgment in Hell because of their sin.

The Proper Response to This Indictment

The proper response for me or anyone else in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is what Peter preached here in Acts 2:14-41 is to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Period. There is no other away to eternal life.

This response or repentance appears to be a work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that does the convicting that leads to repentance (John 16:8, 1 Corinthians 3:6)

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Significance of the Text: What It Means to Audience 

The significance to the audience both Peter’s, Luke’s and mine would be the same as stated above. We are to defend our faith, preach it and the response should be conviction of sin and a turning of heart (repentance) towards God seeking forgiveness. The stipulation for salvation is universal and holds sway until “The Great Day of the Lord” or until the judgment in the Eschaton (End Times).

What is the Call to Arms or The Takeaway?

So where do we go from here? Well…that’s part of my sermon…you’ll need to read my sermon for that. :P

[Completed in Part III: The Sermon]

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