|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:37-41 From the first delivery of that Divine message, it appeared that there was Divine power going with it; and thousands were brought to the obedience of faith. But neither Peter's words, nor the miracle they witnessed, could have produced such effects, had not the Holy Spirit been given. Sinners, when their eyes are opened, cannot but be pricked to the heart for sin, cannot but feel an inward uneasiness. The apostle exhorted them to repent of their sins, and openly to avow their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, by being baptized in his name. Thus professing their faith in Him, they would receive remission of their sins, and partake of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. To separate from wicked people, is the only way to save ourselves from them. Those who repent of their sins, and give up themselves to Jesus Christ, must prove their sincerity by breaking off from the wicked. We must save ourselves from them; which denotes avoiding them with dread and holy fear. By God's grace three thousand persons accepted the gospel invitation. There can be no doubt that the gift of the Holy Ghost, which they all received, and from which no true believer has ever been shut out, was that Spirit of adoption, that converting, guiding, sanctifying grace, which is bestowed upon all the members of the family of our heavenly Father. Repentance and remission of sins are still preached to the chief of sinners, in the Redeemer's name; still the Holy Spirit seals the blessing on the believer's heart; still the encouraging promises are to us and our children; and still the blessings are offered to all that are afar off.
Verse 41. - They then for then they, A.V.; received for gladly received, A.V. and T.R.; there were added unto them in that day for the same day there were added unto them, A.V. Gladly received. The best manuscripts omit ἀσμενως, which, indeed, is superfluous, as the word ἀποδέχομαι contains in itself the idea of a kind reception - a welcome (Luke 8:40; Acts 15:4; Acts 24:3).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then they that gladly received his word,.... The Syriac version adds, "and believed"; what Peter said concerning repentance and baptism, and especially concerning remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost; and concerning the promise of Christ, and salvation by him, of the pardon of sin, and of the Holy Spirit; which doctrine they received with great joy and gladness, it being suitable to their case; and very "readily", and "willingly", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; for they were now made a willing people in the day of God's power, and now that promise, or prophecy, in Psalm 110:3 had a remarkable accomplishment; these converts were the dew of Christ's youth, as well as instances of his powerful and efficacious grace: not all that heard this sermon of Peter's received his doctrine in this manner, only some; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions render the words, "and some of them readily received", &c. which shows the distinguishing grace of God in this instance. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions leave out the word "gladly", which should not be omitted: and as soon as they had received the word, and were comforted by it, they
were baptized; in water, by immersion, for which there was great conveniency in Jerusalem, and in the temple, where the apostles now were: in the city of Jerusalem, in private houses, they had their baths for purifications, by immersion, as in the case of menstruous, gonorrhoeas, and other defilements, by touching unclean persons, and things, which were very frequent; so that a digger of cisterns, for such uses, and others, was a business in Jerusalem,
"Says Simeon Sicana (g), who was a digger of cisterns, ditches, and caves, in Jerusalem, to R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, I am as great a man as thou art; he made answer to him, why? (or your reason for it;) he replied to him, because I am employed in the necessary affairs of many, (or of the public,) as you are; for says he, if a man comes to you for judgment, or to ask a question, you say to him, drink out of this cistern, whose waters are pure, and cold; or, if a woman asks thee concerning her monstrous, you say to her, dip in this cistern, whose waters purify.
And in the temple there was an apartment, called , "the dipping place", or "room", where the high priest dipped himself on the day of atonement (h): and besides, there were ten lavers of brass, made by Solomon; and every laver held forty baths of water, and each was four cubits broad and long, sufficient for immersion of the whole body of a man; and to these Herbanus (i) the Jew seems to have respect, when he says, that in the outer part of Solomon's temple, there were "lavers", in every side, (or all around,) which were free, or open, for the use of all; to which, he thinks, the prophet Isaiah has respect, in Isaiah 1:16. Those were for the priests, both to wash their hands and feet at, and also to wash the burnt offerings; see Exodus 30:18 (k): and who were likewise obliged, very often, to bathe, or dip their whole bodies in water; for if a priest went out of the temple for a little while to speak with a friend, , "he was obliged to dipping": and if he nodded, he was obliged to wash his hands and his feet; but if he slept, he was obliged to dip himself; yea, a man might not go into the court, or to service, even though he was clean, , "until he dip himself" (l). Add to this, that there was the molten sea also for the priests to wash in, 2 Chronicles 4:6 which was done by immersion; on which one of the Jewish commentators (m) has these words:
"the sea was "for the dipping" of the priests; for in the midst of it, they dipped themselves from their uncleanness; but in the Jerusalem Talmud (n) there is an objection, is it not a vessel? as if it was said, how can they "dip" in it, for is it not a vessel? and there is no "dipping" in vessels: R. Joshua ben Levi replied, a pipe of water was laid to it from the fountain of Etam, and the feet of the oxen, (which were under the molten sea,) were open at the pomegranates; so that it was as if it was from under the earth, and the waters came to it, and entered, and ascended, by the way of the feet of the oxen, which were open beneath them, and bored.
The reason of the objection is, because bathing, or dipping for purification, was not made in vessels, but in gatherings, or pools of water upon the ground; and which objection is removed, by observing, that a pipe was laid from the fountain of Etam, which supplied it with spring, or running water; so that the molten sea, and the lavers, were looked upon all one as pools of water, or springs of water, and as fit for immersion. This sea was ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and held two thousand baths, 1 Kings 7:23. Yea, three thousand, as in 2 Chronicles 6:5 and every laver held forty baths, 1 Kings 7:38 and every bath held four gallons and a half, and between seven and eight gallons of wine measure. And it may be observed, that there were also in Jerusalem the pool of Bethesda, into which persons went down at certain times, John 5:1 and the pool of Siloam, where persons bathed, and dipped themselves, on certain occasions; See Gill on John 9:7. So that there were conveniences enough for baptism by immersion in this place: and the same day there were added; unto them, or to the church, as in Acts 2:47 the whole company of the hundred and twenty disciples; the Arabic version supplies, "among the believers": the number of those, that were added to them, were about three thousand souls; or persons, men, and women; and their number is no objection to their being baptized by immersion. As for convenient places to baptize in, there were enough, as we have seen already; and there were administrators sufficient for this work: had there been no more than the twelve apostles, it was but two hundred and fifty men apiece; and there were twelve separate places in the temple, where they might be baptizing at the same time; there were the ten lavers, the molten sea, and the dipping room, so that the work was not so very heavy nor difficult; but besides, there were seventy disciples, who, as they were preachers of the word, were administrators of this ordinance; and supposing them all employed, as they might be, at the same time, either in the temple, or at the pools in Jerusalem, or at the baths, and cisterns, in private houses; they would not have more than six or seven and thirty persons apiece to baptize; and there was time enough in the day for it; it was but the third hour, or nine o'clock in the morning, when Peter began his sermon; and allowing an hour for that, there were eight hours more in the day, according to the Jewish reckoning of twelve hours in a day; so that the business might be done without any hurry, or great fatigue; and indeed, the objection, as to time, would equally lie against sprinkling, or pouring, as dipping; at least the difference is very inconsiderable; for the same form of words must be pronounced in administering the ordinance by the one, as by the other; and a person being ready, is very near as soon dipped into water, as water can be taken, and sprinkled, or poured on the face. Besides, after all, though these persons were added to the church the same day, it does not necessarily follow from the text, that they were all baptized in one day; the words do not oblige us to such a sense: I own, I am of opinion, that they were all baptized in one day; and that on the same day they were baptized, they were joined to the church; and that day was the day of Pentecost, the day on which the law was given on Mount Sinai, and on which now the Gospel was published to men of all nations under the heavens; the day on which the firstfruits were offered to the Lord, and on which now the firstfruits of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ were brought in to him. Let the order be observed, they were first baptized, and then added to the church,
(g) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 70. 3.((h) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 16. 1. & 19. & Maimon. Beth. Habbechira, c. 5. sect. 11. 17. (i) Disput. Gregantii, p. 131. (k) Vid. Jarchi & Kimchi in 1 Kings 7.38. & Ralbag in 2 Chron. 5. (l) T. Hieros. Yoma, fol. 40. 2. Misna Yoma, c. 3. sect. 3.((m) R. David Kimchi. (n) lb. Yoma, fol. 41. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ac 2:41-47. Beautiful Beginnings of the Christian Church.
41-47. they that gladly received his word were baptized—"It is difficult to say how three thousand could be baptized in one day, according to the old practice of a complete submersion; and the more as in Jerusalem there was no water at hand except Kidron and a few pools. The difficulty can only be removed by supposing that they already employed sprinkling, or baptized in houses in large vessels. Formal submersion in rivers, or larger quantities of water, probably took place only where the locality conveniently allowed it" [Olshausen].
the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls—fitting inauguration of the new kingdom, as an economy of the Spirit!
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