The multitude in Jerusalem had gathered at the great sound that accompanied the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. They were all amazed and perplexed by this unprecedented miracle. Peter stood up with the other apostles and explained to them about God’s promised Holy Spirit. In this lesson, we will study the remaining portion of Peter’s message and the conversion that resulted. We will also take a glimpse of the believers’ lives in the early church.
Did You Know...?
- Peter’s Message: The risen Christ (2:22-36)
- The Multitude’s Response (2:37-41)
- The Life of the Early Church (2:42-47)
What was the main point of Peter’s message?Hide Answer
God has made Jesus Christ Lord and Savior (36).
How did Peter support his point?Hide Answer
1. He first reminded them of the miracles, wonders, and signs that Jesus did among them, which testified that He was from God.
2. Peter pointed out that Jesus, whom they had put to death, had been raised up by God according to the Scriptures.
3. He then stated that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was a clear evidence that Jesus has been raised up and exalted by God.
How did Peter show that David was not speaking about himself, but about the Christ, in Psalm 16:8-11?Hide Answer
1. David’s psalm stated that God would not allow His Holy One to see corruption. But David died and was buried (29).
2. Peter explained that David was not speaking about himself when he wrote the psalm. Instead, he foresaw the Christ, who would be of the fruit of his body (his descendant) and who would be raised up by God to sit on His throne.
When witnessing to someone, what key facts about Jesus should you share?Hide Answer
Jesus’ divinity, atoning death, resurrection, ascension, salvation, and second coming.
How do we know, based on Peter’s message, that receiving the Holy Spirit is not a silent experience but involves some obvious external sign?Hide Answer
When a person receives the Holy Spirit, other people can see and hear it (33).
How would you use the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit to witness to someone about Jesus Christ?Hide Answer
The pouring out of the Holy Spirit, which is an obvious external experience because it is accompanied by the speaking of tongues, is a powerful evidence that Jesus is the exalted Lord and Savior (33). When a person receives the Holy Spirit, he can know firsthand that Jesus is alive and that He is indeed our Lord and Savior.
How did the multitude respond to Peter’s message?Hide Answer
They were cut to the heart when they realized that they had committed the grave sin of killing the Messiah whom they had been waiting for. So they humbly and desperately asked Peter what they must do about their sins (37).
What did Peter command them to do?Hide Answer
Peter told them to repent and that every one of them should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
What promise is given to those who obey this command?Hide Answer
Remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (38-39).
How can baptism, which is an external sign, be effective for the remission of sins?Hide Answer
Baptism is effective for the remission of sins because God’s word says so. The spiritual effect of baptism is based on the promise of God in the Bible (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1Pet 3:21). Through the witness of the Holy Spirit, the blood of Jesus Christ washes our sins away through the water during baptism (1Jn 5:6-8). Through baptism, we are buried and raised with Christ (Col 2:11-13; Rom 6:3-4), and we receive a new life (Jn 3:5; Tit 3:5). Baptism is not just a religious ceremony or symbol. God’s word designates baptism as the moment when the atoning blood on the cross takes effect upon the believer. Behind the symbolic action of baptism is God’s act of salvation through faith. It may be difficult for us to comprehend the marvelous workings of God, but we just need to trust God’s promise and obey the command of Christ Himself and of the apostles to be baptized.
In Matt 28:19, the Lord Jesus commanded the disciples to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But here, Peter commanded the people to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. How do you explain the difference?Hide Answer
“Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” are not names but different designations of the one God. Although Jesus did not explicitly state it in Matthew, the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one, and that name is “Jesus” (Jn 5:43; 17:11; 14:26), for Jesus is not only the Son but also the Father (Isa 9:6; Jn 10:30; 14:9) and the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:18; 16:17). The disciples knew this truth, and therefore commanded the multitude to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
What did Peter mean by the words, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” How can we apply this to our Christian living?Hide Answer
Being saved from this perverse generation concerns the daily life of a Christian. As believers, we should not think that accepting Jesus Christ or salvation is a one-time event. True repentance is more than feeling sorry for our sins at our conversion. It also means forsaking our sins and walking in the newness of life every day with a new heart and a new lifestyle (cf. Eph 4:20-24). True salvation is not just being forgiven of our sins during baptism. It also means being set free from the bondage of sin in our lives (Rom 8:1-2) and walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:16,25).
But all these are not based on our own effort. We have to constantly depend on Christ and turn to Him for forgiveness and help. Only by His saving power can we be saved from this perverse generation.
In this passage, we can see two main parameters of church growth. What are they?Hide Answer
When the church grows, there is an increase in both quality and quantity. In terms of quality, we read of the early believers’ steadfast faith and love. In terms of quantity, we see how the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Record the factors that contributed to the rapid growth of the early church in Jerusalem and explain how each factor contributes to church growth.Hide Answer
1. They gladly received the word (41)—A person who readily accepts the word of God shows that he is humble before God. When believers allow the word of God to be implanted in their hearts and put it into practice, they are bound to grow spiritually (cf. Jesus’ parable of the sower in Mt 13:8; Mk 4:8; Lk 8:8).
2. They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (42)—The apostles’ doctrine is the pattern of sound teachings and the complete gospel which the apostles had received from the Lord (2Tim 1:13; 1Cor 15:1-3). It is the foundation of the church upon which the church is built and grows (Eph 2:20-21). To be firmly rooted in the faith and to maintain a strong spiritual growth, all believers need to continually learn, practice, and remain true to the word of God, which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
3. They continued steadfastly in fellowship (42)—Having fellowship is crucial to our faith because it strengthens our relationship with God and with one another (1Jn 1:3). Through mutual sharing, edification, and service, the church can grow and be strong (Eph 4:11-16).
4. They continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread (42)— “Breaking of bread” is probably a reference to the Holy Communion (i.e. the Lord’s Supper). The Holy Communion is an indispensable part of our faith because it reminds us of our Lord’s sacrifice for us and helps us reaffirm our resolution to live for Him. It is also the occasion to examine ourselves of our sins as well as any offenses we may have against our brethren, all of which hinder the growth of the church. By partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which are food and drink for our spiritual lives, we also have the life of Christ in us and grow in our communion with Him (Jn 6:47 58; 1Cor 10:16-17).
5. They continued steadfastly in prayers (42)—Through unceasing prayers, we can grow in our spiritual character and our knowledge of God (Eph 1:15-19; 3:14-19; Php 1:9-11; Col 1:9-11). Through our prayers, God will open the door for the gospel (Col 4:2-4) and lead people to the Lord through signs and wonders (Acts 4:30).
6. Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles (43)—Wonders, miracles, and signs demonstrate God’s power and authority (Mt 12:28) and confirm the message that we preach (Mk 16:20; Acts 14:3; Heb 2:3-4). God often uses them to convince people to put their faith in the Lord (cf. Jn 2:11; 3:2; 7:31; 11:45).
7. They sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need (45)—Love is an important ingredient in church growth because love can edify and build up (Eph 4:16). When there is selfless love among the believers, the church becomes a magnet that binds everyone together and draws people to the church.
8. They continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house (46)—Meeting regularly with brothers and sisters in Christ is essential to our spiritual growth. Through these meetings, we can encourage one another and serve one another with the various gifts we have received (Heb 3:12 13; 10:24-25; Eph 4:11-13). Family services and home visitations are equally important because they allow members to interact in a more informal setting and get to know each other better.
9. They had the gladness of heart (46)— Joy is the result of inner satisfaction that comes from having Christ in our lives and the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Jn 15:10-11; Acts 16:34; Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22; 1Thess 1:6). It is also an expression of complete trust in the Lord (Php 4:10-13; 1Pet 1:5-9). When others see the joy that we have, they would want to know the secret and learn to also trust in the Lord.
10. They had the simplicity of heart (46) Our love for one another needs to be sincere and come from a pure heart (1Pet 1:22). If all the believers in the church can establish a genuine relationship based on mutual trust, it will greatly enhance the unity of the church and attract unbelievers to the fold.
11. They continually praised God (47) Praising God is not only a duty of believers but also a natural expression of our thanksgiving, and worship to our God. Constantly praising God is a way to remind ourselves and one another to lead a Christ-centered life and grow in Christ (Col 3:16-17). A church that always praises God is vibrant and active because it is filled with thanksgiving and joy.
12. They had favor with all the people (47 —Having a good reputation in the community is the first step for the church to reach out to people outside the church. The believers’ godly conduct is a powerful instrument to win over unbelievers (Tit 2:9-10; 1Pet 2:12; 3:1)
What aspects do you think are lacking in yourself and in your congregation? What steps can you and your congregation take to improve in those areas?