Exile and Repentance, Part 14 (Acts 1)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahActs 1

So with all this in mind (and I know it’s a lot of material), let’s take a fresh run at the first part of Acts — and read as a Jew would have read Luke’s book.

(Act 1:4-5 ESV)  4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;  5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

While Jesus does not deny the continuation of water baptism (which is plainly taught in Acts and elsewhere in the NT), he places an unambiguous emphasis on the baptism of the Holy Spirit promised by John. The outpouring of the Spirit, according to the Prophets, would mark the coming of the Kingdom.

(Act 2:1-4 ESV) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.  2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Many commentators have compared the tongues of fire to Mt. Sinai. I think Peterson nails the exegesis in the Pillar commentary (quickly becoming a favorite of mine) —

In the perspective of Acts, the messianic judgment is mercifully delayed, giving the Spirit-filled disciples the chance to preach repentance and offer the hope of salvation to all (e.g. 3:19-21; 10:42-43; 17:30-31). Again, it is unlikely that these tongues are meant to represent the other tongues (heterais glōssais) with which they began to speak (v. 4). This visionary experience is best understood against the background of passages like Exodus 3:2-5; 19:18; 24:17; 40:38, where fire symbolizes the presence of the Holy One to communicate with his people and guide them. The Pentecostal gift is God’s empowering presence with his people in a new and distinctive way, revealing his will and leading them to fulfill his purposes for them as the people of the New Covenant. When Luke says the tongues like fire separated and came to rest on each of them, the implication is that the blessing of God’s Spirit was for each individual member of the believing community. The Spirit’s work in binding them together as the nascent church is illustrated in 2:41-47.

David Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), n.p.

And so we see again both a national call to repentance and promise of the Spirit as well as an individual call and promise. God wishes that all of Israel would repent, but he is allowing each Jew to decide for himself, and the curses and blessings will result as each decides. That is, the covenant is becoming more and more individualized, as we each decide whether to follow Jesus, but at this point in God’s narrative, he is transitioning from a covenant with a nation — the Law of Moses — to the new covenant of Jer 31:31 ff —in which God will directly operate on the hearts of each Kingdom individual, not just the King and not just a handful of prophets.

And so the division of the fire from a singular fire above Mt. Sinai to separate fires above each of the 120 disciples speaking demonstrates vividly that God’s relationship is to become much more individualized. Much of the old covenant remains. Election is still the election of Israel (now the church, as a continuation of Israel), not individuals. The nation of Israel will suffer the curses of Deu 28 and 30 as a nation — except for the remnant that repents. But repentance is one person at a time — as vividly revealed not only in the individualized tongues of fire but individualized baptism.

We must avoid the temptation to insist on one view or another. Rather, God is adding an individual relationship to the national relationship given through Moses and the government-by-king relationship given through David. And the early chapters of Acts reveal this transition being realized.

Peter’s sermon

(Act 2:5 ESV) Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 

Peter preaches to an audience of Jews gathered in Jerusalem from across the Roman Empire to celebrate Pentecost. Pentecost is 50 days after the Passover, and so there’s no reason to assume that these people are identical with those present at the crucifixion. There’d surely have been some overlap, but these are not one and the same people.

It’s important that these Jews are called “devout,” eulabes, meaning God-fearing, pious, or reverent. Luke makes it a point to let us know that these were not evil or godless people, even though Peter will soon call on them to repent. And that only makes sense. These were pilgrims who cared enough about God to travel great distances at great expense and risk to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost. This was, for most, a once in a lifetime experience. They obviously cared about the things of God.

The Outpouring of the Spirit

Peter begins his sermon quoting from Joel –

(Act 2:16-21 ESV)  16 “But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:  

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;  18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.  19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;  20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.  21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-32. The references to “Lord” in the Hebrew are references to YHWH. And this is one of the several passages built on Deu 30:6 in which God’s promise to circumcise the Jews’ hearts at the end of the Exile and beginning of the Kingdom is attributed to the outpouring of the Spirit. Joel goes further than most prophecies, making it clear that this outpouring of the Spirit will be given to men and women, both, and the result will be salvation.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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12 Responses to Exile and Repentance, Part 14 (Acts 1)

  1. Price says:

    Question…. if the Jews who were already repentant and had submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist… why would Peter tell them to be baptized again ? He doesn’t seem to make an allowance for those who had been baptized by John… just curious.

  2. rich constant says:

    the Great Commission price

  3. Price says:

    Rich, the Great Commission certainly gives instructions… but it is lacking greatly in “purpose”… other than to make disciples… what was the purpose as outlined in the Great Commission.. Nothing is said.. much is assumed.

  4. rich constant says:

    Price

    Number one
    read the Great Commission again.
    Number Two
    read John and what the Holy Spirit and the promise of the Holy Spirit was to bring About.
    number 3
    understanding the fulfillment of prophecy. concerning Jerusalem the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
    Understanding a little bit better about the curse.
    and what the apostles were teaching these ignorant man from Galilee speaking all of the foreign languages about the mighty works of God. brings to light the promise of Jesus and sending the comforter and in the enactment of the New Covenant.
    through believing thAt Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews were looking for, and they rejected and crucified Him.
    Jesus was born under the laws subject to the law to redeem those under the law.
    through being cursed just like every Jew was cursed for breaking the law and the sacrifice is available under the Torah law, was not capable of cleansing the conscience of those under law.
    To say nothing of the promise of God through Abraham and the grace that would follow.

  5. rich constant says:

    Price I keep trying to post but nothing goes through it’s about power and authority preaching all he commanded and being implemented and small part,and when the day of Pentecost had fully come the promise happend.

  6. rich constant says:

    PRICE

    Hebrews 2

    Warning Against Drifting Away

    2:1 Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2:2 For if the message spoken through angels1 proved to be so firm that every violation2 or disobedience received its just penalty, 2:3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him, 2:4 while God confirmed their witness3 with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed4 according to his will.

  7. rich constant says:

    PRICE

    1ST.COR.

    2:1 When I came1 to you, brothers and sisters,2 I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony3 of God. 2:2 For I decided to be concerned about nothing4 among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. 2:4 My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 2:5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.

    Wisdom from God

    2:6 Now we do speak wisdom among the mature,5 but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. 2:7 Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. 2:8 None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 2:9 But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined,6 are the things God has prepared for those who love him.”7 2:10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 2:11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 2:12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 2:13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.8 2:14 The unbeliever9 does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 2:15 The one who is spiritual discerns10 all things, yet he himself is understood11 by no one. 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him?12 But we have the mind of Christ.

    Acts 1

    Jesus Ascends to Heaven

    1:1 I wrote1 the former2 account,3 Theophilus,4 about all that Jesus began to do and teach 1:2 until the day he was taken up to heaven,5 after he had given orders6 by7 the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 1:3 To the same apostles8 also, after his suffering,9 he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period10 and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. 1:4 While he was with them,11 he declared,12 “Do not leave Jerusalem,13 but wait there14 for what my15 Father promised,16 which you heard about from me.17 1:5 For18 John baptized with water, but you19 will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

    ACTS
    Then Peter said, 10:47 “No one can withhold the water for these people to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did,134 can he?”

    10:48 So he gave orders to have them baptized
    in the name of Jesus Christ.

    acts
    10:32 Therefore send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter. This man is staying as a guest in the house of Simon the tanner,85 by the sea.’ 10:33 Therefore I sent for you at once, and you were kind enough to come.86 So now we are all here in the presence of God87 to listen88 to everything the Lord has commanded you to say to us.”89

    10:34 Then Peter started speaking:90 “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people,91 10:35 but in every nation92 the person who fears him93 and does what is right94 is welcomed before him. 10:36 You know95 the message96 he sent to the people97 of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace98 through99 Jesus Christ100 (he is Lord101 of all) – 10:37 you know what happened throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John announced:102 10:38 with respect to Jesus from Nazareth,103 that104 God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. He105 went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil,106 because God was with him.107 10:39 We108 are witnesses of all the things he did both in Judea109 and in Jerusalem.110 They111 killed him by hanging him on a tree,112 10:40 but113 God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen,114 10:41 not by all the people, but by us, the witnesses God had already chosen,115 who ate and drank116 with him after he rose from the dead. 10:42 He117 commanded us to preach to the people and to warn118 them119 that he is the one120 appointed121 by God as judge122 of the living and the dead. 10:43 About him all the prophets testify,123 that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins124 through his name.”

    The Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit

    10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on125 all those who heard the message.126 10:45 The127 circumcised believers128 who had accompanied Peter were greatly astonished129 that130 the gift of the Holy Spirit131 had been poured out132 even on the Gentiles, 10:46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising133 God. Then Peter said, 10:47 “No one can withhold the water for these people to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did,134 can he?”135 10:48 So he gave orders to have them baptized136 in the name of Jesus Christ.137 Then they asked him to stay for several days.

  8. rich constant says:

    PRICE

    28:16 So22 the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated. 28:17 When23 they saw him, they worshiped him,24 but some doubted.25 28:18 Then Jesus came up and said to them,26 “
    All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
    28:19 Therefore go2
    7 and make disciples of all nations,

    baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

    PRICE
    concerning the kingdom of God.
    READ
    ACTS 1 BELOW

    28 28:20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

    And remember,29 I am with you30 always, to the end of the age.”31

    spoke about 28:16 So22 the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated. 28:17 When23 they saw him, they worshiped him,24 but some doubted.25 28:18 Then Jesus came up and said to them,26 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 28:19 Therefore go27 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,28 28:20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember,29 I am with you30 always, to the end of the age.”31

    ACTS
    1:3 To the same apostles8 also, after his suffering,9 he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period10 and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. 1:4 While he was with them,11 he declared,12 “Do not leave Jerusalem,13 but wait there14 for what my15 Father promised,16 which you heard about from me.

  9. rich constant says:

    PRICE

    JOHN

    Teaching on the Holy Spirit

    14:15 “If you love me, you will obey34 my commandments.35 14:16 Then36 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate37 to be with you forever – 14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,38 because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides39 with you and will be40 in you.

    14:18 “I will not abandon41 you as orphans,42 I will come to you.43 14:19 In a little while44 the world will not see me any longer, but you will see me; because I live, you will live too. 14:20 You will know at that time45 that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you. 14:21 The person who has my commandments and obeys46 them is the one who loves me.47 The one48 who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal49 myself to him.”

  10. Price says:

    Rich… I’m not debating at all whether or not there is a commandment to be baptized… It’s right there in the text.. What’s not right there is WHY… Nothing that you have presented speaks to salvation.. just to obedience… not trying to belabor the point.. just saying that it’s not my style to read into the passage what I want for it to say.

  11. Dwight says:

    Mark 16:16 which is the great commission says, “preach to the world, those who believe and are bapized will be saved” and then in Acts 2 the apostels follow this by baptizing many people when they ask “what must we do to be saved”. Even if you discount Mark 16:16 as what Jesus said, the apostles still seem to be playing by these rules. The why was salvation. Now they might not have understood the depth of baptism, such as being baptized into Jesus, burial…resurrection, etc., but they obviously didn’t have to. They heard, believed, repented was baptized or they heard, believed, was baptized and repented. I think we think we know more than we do as we don’t often understand the Jewish thought process, but while it might help, it shouldn’t count against us either.

  12. rich constant says:

    to me price I get to the what & into the Why on the next post.
    Read that
    and then we’ll go from there if you would like.
    I’ve read a lot of your stuff price it just didn’t seem to me that the simple things I was posting was a question that you should have. Sorry about that bud

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