I have misunderstood Acts chapters one and two. For most of my ministry I believed those chapters were about people getting baptized. The emphasis was on the immersive act of being renewed in full water baptism.
It’s true that 3,000 people responded to Peter’s message and were immersed. But that isn’t really what the text was emphasizing.
What’s It About?
It’s about the ministry and presence of the Holy Spirit in connecting people back to God, to bring us, created in his image, back into fellowship with our Creator.
Peter’s arguments and logic
- God performed miracles, wonders, and signs that were done through Jesus of Nazareth; the people saw the miracles. They recognized that Jesus had divine power. The Messiah was prophesied to be anointed with God’s Spirit. As God’s Anointed One, he would give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cleanse the lepers, and even raise the dead. The Judeans witnessed all of those miraculous acts of compassion and healing. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.
- The people crucified Jesus of Nazareth. God gave them his Son because the Messiah was purposed for death, to be sacrificed for them. God handed him over by his set purpose and foreknowledge. It was prophesied that the Messiah would die for the people. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.
- The Anointed of God would indeed be killed, sacrificing his life for others, but he would not stay in the grave and his body would not undergo decay. Peter proved to the crowds that Jesus was resurrected, just as it was predicted. He used King David from Psalm 16 and Psalm 110. Peter said that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, and that they, the apostles, were witnesses of the resurrection. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.
- And lastly, Peter’s greatest argument for Jesus being the resurrected Messiah was the evidence of the Holy Spirit having been poured out on mankind. The sound of the violent wind from heaven, the preaching of the apostles in 16 different languages, the apostles who were unschooled and unordinary. Peter said these things were evidence of Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out his Spirit. The apostles received the Spirit in the upper room on Pentecost. The believers received the Spirit when they were baptized, (Acts 2:38). Peter said that Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, had received the promised Holy Spirit and then he poured out the Spirit. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.
The Whole Message
Peter’s message was a powerful testimony to fulfilled prophecy and to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
It’s too simplified to suggest that Acts 1 & 2 is about people getting baptized. The force of the text demonstrates the amazing promise of God to give his Spirit to all of us. Not just for the repented Jews, but to believing Gentiles too, for the whole world, for as many as the Lord our God will call!
This morning, at the Southeast Church of Christ in Friendswood, I will be speaking about this very topic, celebrating the Holy Spirit in our salvation.
Come join us at 8:30 and 10:45!