After hearing Peter’s sermon, the Jews gathered want to know what they can do, and Peter knows exactly what they need – to repent, to turn from their old way of living towards Jesus Christ. The outcome of this is the forgiveness of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Baptism symbolises this repentance, forgiveness and the baptism with the Holy Spirit (see comment on 1:5) – which isn’t a post-conversion experience but the indwelling of the Spirit from the moment of repentance.

In v39, Peter maakes it clear that the offer of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit (“promise” means the promise that those who repent will receive these things) is open to all (with, I believe, the reference to “your children” being rhetorical rather than meaning that children of believers are automatically heirs of this gift) but then adds “for…everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself”. Only those who God calls will receive these blessings, because they are the only ones who will respond to God’s offer. The offer of salvation is open to all, but God knows and has called in advnce those who will accept it.

Three thousand people turned to Jesus that day – what a party there must have been in heaven! It followed weeks of serious prayer and required incredible courage, faith and obedience from the desciples. God still has the power to make many believe his word, and I pray that he will because our world needs it.

I know of a church that has set itself up on the basis of v42 – they aim to “devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”. There are far worse models to go for. The unity oand generosity of these Christians is a fine example, and it seems from v47 that people around noticed. Like Jesus, the early church seems to have been popular with the public but not with the establisment as we will soon see. A couple of things stand out. Firstly, v43 – “many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles” – uses much the same language as v22 which is about God doing miracles through Jesus. It wasn’t their power. But it does seem that so far it is only the apostles who perform these signs, not ordinary believers. The second is that the Christiians still went to the temple. I. Howard Marshall in his commentary on Acts (Tyndale, IVP) suggests that this could just have been a meeting place (see 5:12) but that it is also quite possible they were involved in the temple worship. They may just have been going for prayer (note that v42 says “the prayers”, not “prayers” which may suggest an oranised prayer of some sort; see also 3:1) or maybe for the sacrifices as many of the Jewish Christians would not yet have realised that the sacrifice of Jesus made the temple sacrifices useless. Either way, the Christians were involved in worshipping God they did it together (v46) and they also met in each other’s homes to remember Jesus’ death by breaking bread (v46).

The end of this passage seems to be the first of the little summary sentances which show the end of sections in this book. Having looked in a lot of detail at what has happened since the resurrection; Luke zooms out and makes a brief comment on the overall work of God and the church. It is an impressive state of affairs – “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”. This first section about the preparation of the apostles and the day of Pentecost – the beginning of the Christian faith – is such a great reminder of what is possible with God and the amazing priviledge of being his child and being forgiven and given his Holy Spirit. And the adventure of Acts is only just beginning.

Heavenly Father, I ask that the example of the early church in Jerusalem and the demostration there of your power would inspire me and prompt me to better love the Christians I know in fellowship and the non-Christians I know by seeking and taking chances to tell them about you. Amen.


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