Acts 2:37
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) They were pricked in their heart.—The verb occurs here only in the New Testament, and expresses the sharp, painful emotion which is indicated in “compunction,” a word of kindred meaning. A noun derived from it, or possibly from another root, is used in Romans 11:8 in the sense of “slumber,” apparently as indicating either the unconsciousness that follows upon extreme pain, or simple drowsiness. In “attrition” and “contrition” we have analogous instances of words primarily physical used for spiritual emotions.

Acts

PETER’S FIRST SERMON

Acts 2:32 - Acts 2:47
.

This passage may best be dealt with as divided into three parts: the sharp spear-thrust of Peter’s closing words {Acts 2:32 - Acts 2:36}, the wounded and healed hearers {Acts 2:37 - Acts 2:41}, and the fair morning dawn of the Church {Acts 2:42 - Acts 2:47}.

I. Peter’s address begins with pointing out the fulfilment of prophecy in the gift of the Spirit {Acts 2:14 - Acts 2:21}.

It then declares the Resurrection of Jesus as foretold by prophecy, and witnessed to by the whole body of believers {Acts 2:22 - Acts 2:32}, and it ends by bringing together these two facts, the gift of the Spirit and the Resurrection and Ascension, as effect and cause, and as establishing beyond all doubt that Jesus is the Christ of prophecy, and the Lord on whom Joel had declared that whoever called should be saved. We now begin with the last verse of the second part of the address.

Observe the significant alternation of the names of ‘Christ’ and ‘Jesus’ in Acts 2:31 - Acts 2:32. The former verse establishes that prophecy had foretold the Resurrection of the Messiah, whoever he might be; the latter asserts that ‘this Jesus’ has fulfilled the prophetic conditions. That is not a thing to be argued about, but to be attested by competent witnesses. It was presented to the multitude on Pentecost, as it is to us, as a plain matter of fact, on which the whole fabric of Christianity is built, and which itself securely rests on the concordant testimony of those who knew Him alive, saw Him dead, and were familiar with Him risen.

There is a noble ring of certitude in Peter’s affirmation, and of confidence that the testimony producible was overwhelming. Unless Jesus had risen, there would neither have been a Pentecost nor a Church to receive the gift. The simple fact which Peter alleged in that first sermon, ‘whereof we all are witnesses,’ is still too strong for the deniers of the Resurrection, as their many devices to get over it prove.

But, a listener might ask, what has this witness of yours to do with Joel’s prophecy, or with this speaking with tongues? The answer follows in the last part of the sermon. The risen Jesus has ascended up; that is inseparable from the fact of resurrection, and is part of our testimony. He is ‘exalted by,’ or, perhaps, at, ‘the right hand of God.’ And that exaltation is to us the token that there He has received from the Father the Spirit, whom He promised to send when He left us. Therefore it is He-’this Jesus’-who has ‘poured forth this,’-this new strange gift, the tokens of which you see flaming on each head, and hear bursting in praise from every tongue.

What triumphant emphasis is in that ‘He’! Peter quotes Joel’s word ‘pour forth.’ The prophet had said, as the mouthpiece of God, ‘I will pour forth’; Peter unhesitatingly transfers the word to Jesus. We must not assume in him at this stage a fully-developed consciousness of our Lord’s divine nature, but neither must we blink the tremendous assumption which he feels warranted in making, that the exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God meant His exercising the power which belonged to God Himself.

In Acts 2:34, he stays for a moment to establish by prophecy that the Ascension, of which he had for the first time spoken in Acts 2:33, is part of the prophetic characteristics of the Messiah. His demonstration runs parallel with his preceding one as to the Resurrection. He quotes Psalm 110:1 - Psalm 110:7, which he had learned to do from his Master, and just as he had argued about the prediction of Resurrection, that the dead Psalmist’s words could not apply to himself, and must therefore apply to the Messiah; so he concludes that it was not ‘David’ who was called by Jehovah to sit as ‘Lord’ on His right hand. If not David, it could only be the Messiah who was thus invested with Lordship, and exalted as participator of the throne of the Most High.

Then comes the final thrust of the spear, for which all the discourse has been preparing. The Apostle rises to the full height of his great commission, and sets the trumpet to his mouth, summoning ‘all the house of Israel,’ priests, rulers, and all the people, to acknowledge his Master. He proclaims his supreme dignity and Messiahship. He is the ‘Lord’ of whom the Psalmist sang, and the prophet declared that whoever called on His name should be saved; and He is the Christ for whom Israel looked.

Last of all, he sets in sharp contrast what God had done with Jesus, and what Israel had done, and the barb of his arrow lies in the last words, ‘whom ye crucified.’ And this bold champion of Jesus, this undaunted arraigner of a nation’s crimes, was the man who, a few weeks before, had quailed before a maid-servant’s saucy tongue! What made the change? Will anything but the Resurrection and Pentecost account for the psychological transformation effected in him and the other Apostles?

II. No wonder that ‘they were pricked in their heart’!

Such a thrust must have gone deep, even where the armour of prejudice was thick. The scene they had witnessed, and the fiery words of explanation, taken together, produced incipient conviction, and the conviction produced alarm. How surely does the first glimpse of Jesus as Christ and Lord set conscience to work! The question, ‘What shall we do?’ is the beginning of conversion. The acknowledgment of Jesus which does not lead to it is shallow and worthless. The most orthodox accepter, so far as intellect goes, of the gospel, who has not been driven by it to ask his own duty in regard to it, and what he is to do to receive its benefits, and to escape from his sins, has not accepted it at all.

Peter’s answer lays down two conditions: repentance and baptism. The former is often taken in too narrow a sense as meaning sorrow for sin, whereas it means a change of disposition or mind, which will be accompanied, no doubt, with ‘godly sorrow,’ but is in itself deeper than sorrow, and is the turning away of heart and will from past love and practice of evil. The second, baptism, is ‘in the name of Jesus Christ,’ or more accurately, ‘upon the name,’-that is, on the ground of the revealed character of Jesus. That necessarily implies faith in that Name; for, without such faith, the baptism would not be on the ground of the Name. The two things are regarded as inseparable, being the inside and the outside of the Christian discipleship. Repentance, faith, baptism, these three, are called for by Peter.

But ‘remission of sins’ is not attached to the immediately preceding clause, so as that baptism is said to secure remission, but to the whole of what goes before in the sentence. Obedience to the requirements would bring the same gift to the obedient as the disciples had received; for it would make them disciples also. But, while repentance and baptism which presupposed faith were the normal, precedent conditions of the Spirit’s bestowal, the case of Cornelius, where the Spirit was given before baptism, forbids the attempt to link the rite and the divine gift more closely together.

The Apostle was eager to share the gift. The more we have of the Spirit, the more shall we desire that others may have Him, and the more sure shall we be that He is meant for all. So Peter went on to base his assurance, that his hearers might all possess the Spirit, on the universal destination of the promise. Joel had said, ‘on all flesh’; Peter declares that word to point downwards through all generations, and outwards to all nations. How swiftly had he grown in grasp of the sweep of Christ’s work! How far beneath that moment of illumination some of his subsequent actions fell!

We have only a summary of his exhortations, the gist of which was earnest warning to separate from the fate of the nation by separating in will and mind from its sins. Swift conviction followed the Spiri-given words, as it ever will do when the speaker is filled with the Holy Spirit, and has therefore a tongue of fire. Three thousand new disciples were made that day, and though there must have been many superficial adherents, and none with much knowledge, it is perhaps not fanciful to see in Luke’s speaking of them as ‘souls’ a hint that, in general, the acceptance of Jesus as Messiah was deep and real. Not only were three thousand ‘names’ added to the hundred and twenty, but three thousand souls.

III. The fair picture of the morning brightness, so soon overclouded, so long lost, follows.

First, the narrative tells how the raw converts were incorporated in the community, and assimilated to its character. They, too, ‘continued steadfastly’ {Acts 1:14}. Note the four points enumerated: ‘teaching,’ which would be principally instruction in the life of Jesus and His Messianic dignity, as proved by prophecy; ‘fellowship,’ which implies community of disposition and oneness of heart manifested in outward association; ‘breaking of bread,’-that is, the observance of the Lord’s Supper; and ‘the prayers,’ which were the very life-breath of the infant Church {Acts 1:14}. Thus oneness in faith and in love, participation in the memorial feast and in devotional acts bound the new converts to the original believers, and trained them towards maturity. These are still the methods by which a sudden influx of converts is best dealt with, and babes in Christ nurtured to full growth. Alas! that so often churches do not know what to do with novices when they come in numbers.

A wider view of the state of the community as a whole closes the chapter. It is the first of several landing-places, as it were, on which Luke pauses to sum up an epoch. A reverent awe laid hold of the popular mind, which was increased by the miraculous powers of the Apostles. The Church will produce that impression on the world in proportion as it is manifestly filled with the Spirit. Do we? The s-called community of goods was not imposed by commandment, as is plain from Peter’s recognition of Ananias’ right to do as he chose with his property. The facts that Mark’s mother, Mary, had a house of her own, and that Barnabas, her relative, is specially signalised as having sold his property, prove that it was not universal. It was an irrepressible outcrop of the brotherly feeling that filled all hearts. Christ has not come to lay down laws, but to give impulses. Compelled communism is not the repetition of that oneness of sympathy which effloresced in the bright flower of this common possession of individual goods. But neither is the closed purse, closed because the heart is shut, which puts to shame so much profession of brotherhood, justified because the liberality of the primitive disciples was not by constraint nor of obligation, but willing and spontaneous.

Acts 2:46 - Acts 2:47 add an outline of the beautiful daily life of the community, which was, like their liberality, the outcome of the feeling of brotherhood, intensified by the sense of the gulf between them and the crooked generation from which they had separated themselves. Luke shows it on two sides. Though they had separated from the nation, they clung to the Temple services, as they continued to do till the end. They had not come to clear consciousness of all that was involved in their discipleship, It was not God’s will that the new spirit should violently break with the old letter. Convulsions are not His way, except as second-best. The disciples had to stay within the fold of Israel, if they were to influence Israel. The time of outward parting between the Temple and the Church was far ahead yet.

But the truest life of the infant Church was not nourished in the Temple, but in the privacy of their homes. They were one family, and lived as such. Their ‘breaking bread at home’ includes both their ordinary meals and the Lord’s Supper; for in these first days every meal, at least the evening meal of every day, was hallowed by having the Supper as a part of it. Each meal was thus a religious act, a token of brotherhood, and accompanied with praise. Surely then ‘men did eat angels’ food,’ and on platter and cup was written ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ The ideal of human fellowship was realised, though but for a moment, and on a small scale. It was inevitable that divergences should arise, but it was not inevitable that the Church should depart so far from the brief brightness of its dawn. Still the sweet concordant brotherhood of these morning hours witnesses what Christian love can do, and prophesies what shall yet be and shall not pass.

No wonder that such a Church won favour with all the people! We hear nothing of its evangelising activity, but its life was such that, without recorded speech, multitudes were drawn into so sweet a fellowship. If we were like the Pentecostal Christians, we should attract wearied souls out of the world’s Babel into the calm home where love and brotherhood reigned, and God would ‘add’ to us ‘day by day those that were being saved.’Acts 2:37-39. Now when they heard this — Having patiently heard Peter out, and not given him the interruption they had been used to give Christ in his discourses; (which was an important point gained;) they were pricked in their heart — Or, were pierced to the heart, with deep and lively sorrow, and felt such a sense of their enormous guilt, in the injuries and indignities which they had offered to this glorious, this divine person, that, with the utmost eagerness and solicitude, they cried out to Peter, &c., Men and brethren — See how their language is altered: they did not style them so before! what shall we do? — Is that Jesus, whom we crucified, both Lord and Christ? Then what will become of us who crucified him? How shall we free ourselves from that guilt and danger in which our own folly and wickedness have involved us? Then Peter said, Repent — Of this aggravated crime, and let a sense of the horrid guilt which you have thereby contracted, awaken you to a penitent reflection upon all your other sins, and to bitter remorse and sorrow for them. This was the same doctrine that John the Baptist and Christ had preached, and, now the Spirit is poured out, it is still insisted on. See notes on Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15; Luke 3:8-14. And be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ — That is, believe in Jesus Christ, not only as a teacher come from God, but as the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world: believe in his doctrine as infallibly true and infinitely momentous, and make it the rule of your faith and practice: rely on his mediation for reconciliation with God: submit to his grace and government: and make an open and solemn profession of this by submitting to the ordinance of baptism. See notes on Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16. This is pressed on each particular person; every one of you, says the apostle. Even those of you that have been the greatest sinners, if they comply with these terms, shall find mercy through this Jesus: and those that think they have been the greatest saints, yet have need to comply with them; repentance, faith, and new obedience being necessary for all. For the remission of sins — Which you may obtain through Christ crucified, in this way, and can obtain in no other. Repent of your sins and they shall not be your ruin; believe in Jesus, and be baptized in that faith, and you shall be justified. Yea, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost — By which he will own and attest the work of his grace in your hearts, and will qualify you for serving that Lord, whom you have crucified. Some of you shall receive even these external and extraordinary gifts, and every one of you, if you be sincere in your repentance and faith, shall receive his internal graces and comforts; shall be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Observe, reader, all that receive the remission of sins, and are adopted into God’s family, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, as a spirit of adoption and regeneration; to assure them of their sonship, and renew them after God’s image. For, says the apostle, the promise is unto you — To any and all of you here present; and to your children — Your posterity to the latest generation; and to all that are afar off — To the Gentiles in the most remote countries, whom God is ready to admit to the same privileges with you. It appears evidently from the manner in which St. Peter here expresses himself, that the gift of the Holy Ghost does not, in this place, mean merely the power of speaking with tongues, and working miracles, for the promise of this was not given to all the Jews there present, and their posterity, much less to all that were afar off, in distant ages and nations; but it rather signifies, the ordinary graces of the Spirit, living faith and its fruits, even righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, which certainly are free for all that earnestly desire, and will seek them in the way God hath appointed. See Luke 11:13; John 4:10; and John 7:37. Whomsoever the Lord our God shall call — Namely, by his word and Spirit, whether they are Jews or Gentiles, and who are not disobedient to the heavenly calling. It is observable, that Peter did not now understand the very words he spoke: for he knew nothing, as yet, of the intended calling of the Gentiles. He could only mean, therefore, by what he now said, that the gospel should be preached to all the dispersed of Israel, and their posterity, in distant nations; but the Holy Spirit had doubtless a further view.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.Now when they heard this - When they heard this declaration of Peter, and this proof that Jesus was the Messiah. There was no fanaticism in his discourse; it was cool, close, pungent reasoning. He proved to them the truth of what he was saying, and thus prepared the way for this effect.

They were pricked in their heart - The word translated were "pricked," κατενύγησαν katenugēsan, is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. It properly denotes "to pierce or penetrate with a needle, lancet, or sharp instrument"; and then "to pierce with grief, or acute pain of any kind." It corresponds precisely to our word "compunction." It implies also the idea of sudden as well as acute grief. In this case it means that they were suddenly and deeply affected with anguish and alarm at what Peter had said. The causes of their grief may have been these:

(1) Their sorrow that the Messiah had been put to death by his own countrymen.

(2) their deep sense of guilt in having done this. There would be mingled here a remembrance of ingratitude, and a consciousness that they had been guilty of murder of the most aggravated and horrid kind, that of having killed their own Messiah.

(3) the fear of his wrath. He was still alive; exalted to be theft Lord; and entrusted with all power. They were afraid of his vengeance; they were conscious that they deserved it; and they supposed that they were exposed to it.

(4) what they had done could not be undone. The guilt remained; they could not wash it out. They had imbrued theft hands in the blood of innocence, and the guilt of that oppressed their souls. This expresses the usual feelings which sinners have when they are convicted of sin.

Men and brethren - This was an expression denoting affectionate earnestness. Just before this they mocked the disciples, and charged them with being filled with new wine, Acts 2:13. They now treated them with respect and confidence. The views which sinners have of Christians and Christian ministers are greatly changed when they are under conviction for sin. Before that they may deride and oppose them; then, they are glad to be taught by the obscurest Christian, and even cling to a minister of the gospel as if he could save them by his own power.

What shall we do? - What shall we do to avoid the wrath of this crucified and exalted Messiah? They were apprehensive of his vengeance, and they wished to know how to avoid it. Never was a more important question asked than this. It is the question which all convicted sinners ask. It implies an apprehension of danger, a sense of guilt, and a readiness to "yield the will" to the claims of God. This was the same question asked by Paul Acts 9:6, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and by the jailor Acts 16:30 "He ...came, trembling, ...and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The state of mind in this case - the case of a convicted sinner - consists in:

(1) A deep sense of the evil of the past life; remembrance of a thousand crimes perhaps before forgotten; a pervading and deepening conviction that the heart, and conversation, and life have been evil, and deserve condemnation.

(2) Apprehension about the justice of God; alarm when the mind looks upward to him, or onward to the day of death and judgment.

(3) an earnest wish, amounting sometimes to agony, to be delivered from this sense of condemnation and this apprehension of the future.

(4) a readiness to sacrifice all to the will of God; to surrender the governing purpose of the mind, and to do what he requires. In this state the soul is prepared to receive the offers of eternal life; and when the sinner comes to this, the offers of mercy meet his case, and he yields himself to the Lord Jesus, and finds peace.

In regard to this discourse of Peter, and this remarkable result, we may observe:

(1) That this is the first discourse which was preached after the ascension of Christ, and is a model which the ministers of religion should imitate.

continued...

37-40. pricked in their hearts—the begun fulfilment of Zec 12:10, whose full accomplishment is reserved for the day when "all Israel shall be saved" (see on [1939]Ro 11:26).

what shall we do?—This is that beautiful spirit of genuine compunction and childlike docility, which, discovering its whole past career to have been one frightful mistake, seeks only to be set right for the future, be the change involved and the sacrifices required what they may. So Saul of Tarsus (Ac 9:6).

They were pricked in their heart; so great and true their grief, they were concerned as if they had been run through: (the pains the mind suffer are most acute): this was foretold, Zechariah 12:10.

Men and brethren; an ordinary compellation which the apostle had given them, Acts 2:29.

What shall we do? not, What shall we say, or believe? Conversion, if real, goes further than profession, and is in heart and deed, not in speech and word only: they desire to know if there be any hope, that such sinners as they might obtain forgiveness of their sins. Now when they heard this,.... Or "him", as the Arabic version; that is, Peter speaking these things, describing the character of Jesus of Nazareth; opening the prophecies concerning him; asserting his resurrection from the dead, and exaltation at the right hand of God; ascribing this wonderful affair, of speaking with divers tongues, to his effusion of the Spirit; and charging them home with the iniquity of crucifying him:

they were pricked in their hearts; the word of God entered into them, and was as a sharp sword in them, which cut and laid open their hearts, and the sin and wickedness of them; they saw themselves guilty of the crime laid to their charge, and were filled with remorse of conscience for it; they felt pain at their hearts, and much uneasiness, and were seized with horror and trembling; they were wounded in their spirits, being hewn and cut down by the prophets and apostles of the Lord, and slain by the words of his mouth; they were as dead men in their own apprehension; and indeed, a prick, a cut, or wound in the heart is mortal:

and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? the persons they before mocked at, they are glad to advise with, what should be done in this their sad and wretched case; what they should do to obtain the favour of God, the forgiveness of their sins, and everlasting salvation. Convinced, awakened sinners, are generally at first upon a covenant of works; are for doing something to atone for their past crimes, to set themselves right in the sight of God, to ingratiate themselves into his favour, and procure the pardon of their sins, and the inheritance of eternal life. And they seem also to be at a loss about the way of salvation, what is to be done to attain it, or how, and by what means it is to be come at; and are almost ready to despair of it, their sin appearing in so dreadful a light, and attended with such aggravating circumstances. Beza's ancient copy reads, "some of them said to Peter", &c. not all that heard, but those that were pricked to the heart.

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 2:37. But after they heard it (what was said by Peter) they were pierced in the heart.

κατανύσσειν, in the figurative sense of painful emotion, which penetrates the heart as if stinging, is not found in Greek writers (who, however, use νύσσειν in a similar sense); but see LXX. Ps. 108:16: κατανενυγμένον τῇ καρδίᾳ, Genesis 34:7, where κατενύγησαν is illustrated by the epexegesis: καὶ λυπηρὸν ἦν αὐτοῖς σφόδρα. Sir 14:1; Sir 12:12; Sir 20:21; Sir 47:21; Susann. 11 (of the pain of love). Compare also Luke 2:35. The hearers were seized with deep pain in their conscience on the speech of Peter, partly for the general reason that He whom they now recognised as the Messiah was murdered by the nation, partly for the more special reason that they themselves had not as yet acknowledged Him, or had been even among His adversaries, and consequently had not recognised and entered upon the only way of salvation pointed out by Peter.

On the figure of stinging, comp. Cic. de orat. iii. 34 (of Pericles): “ut in eorum mentibus, qui audissent, quasi aculeos quosdam relinqueret.”

τί ποιήσομεν] what shall we do? (Winer, p. 262 [E. T. 348].) The inquiry of a need of salvation surrendering itself to guidance. An opposite impression to that made by the discourse of Jesus in Nazareth, Luke 4:28.

ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί] an affectionate and respectful address from broken hearts already gained. Comp. on Acts 1:16. “Non ita dixerunt prius,” Bengel.Acts 2:37. κατενύγησαν τὴν καρδίαν: no word could better make known that the sting of the last word had begun to work (see Theophylact, in loco) = compungo, so in Vulg. The word is not used in classical Greek in the same sense as here, but the simple verb νύσσειν is so used. In LXX the best parallels are Genesis 34:7, Ps. 108:16 (Psalm 109:16): cf. Cicero, De Orat., iii., 34. “Hoc pœenitentiæ initium est, hic ad pietatem ingressus, tristitiam ex peccatis nostris concipere ac malorum nostrorum sensu vulnerari … sed compunctioni accedere debet promptitudo ad parendum,” Calvin, in loco.—τί ποιήσωμεν; conj., delib., cf. Luke 3:10; Luke 3:12; Luke 3:14, Mark 12:14; Mark 14:12, John 12:27, Matthew 26:54, Burton, Moods and Tenses of N. T. Greek, pp. 76, 126, and Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 28 ff. (1893).—ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί: indicating respect and regard—St. Peter’s address had not been in vain—“non ita dixerant prius” Bengel; but now the words come as a response to St. Peter’s own appeal, Acts 5:29, cf. also Oecumenius, (so too Theophylact), καὶ οἰκειωτικῶς αὐτοὺς ἀδελφοὺς καλοῦσιν, οὒς πρώην ἐχλεύαζον.—μετανοήσατε, Luke 24:47. The Apostles began, as the Baptist began, Matthew 3:2, as the Christ Himself began, Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, with the exhortation to repentance, to a change of heart and life, not to mere regret for the past. On the distinction between μετανοεῖν and μεταμέλομαι, see Trench, N. T. Synonyms, i., 208. Dr. Thayer remarks that the distinction drawn by Trench is hardly sustained by usage, but at the same time he allows that μετανοεῖν is undoubtedly the fuller and nobler term, expressive of moral action and issues, as is indicated by the fact that it is often employed in the imperative (μεταμέλομαι never), and by its construction with ἀπό, ἐκ cf. also Acts 20:31, ἡ εἰς θεὸν μετάνοια (Synonyms in Grimm-Thayer, sub μεταμέλομαι) Christian Baptism was not admission to some new club or society of virtue, it was not primarily a token of mutual love and brotherhood, although it purified and strengthened both, cf. Acts 2:44 ff.37–40. Effect of St Peter’s Sermon

37. pricked in their heart] stung with remorse at the enormity of the wickedness which had been committed in the Crucifixion, and at the blindness with which the whole nation had closed their eyes to the teaching of the prophecies which had spoken of the Messiah.

unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles] As specially the witnesses of the Resurrection and Ascension, and being the recognized heads of the new society.

Men and brethren] See Acts 1:16, note.

what shall we do?] To escape the penalties which must fall on the nation that has so sinned against light and knowledge; who have had the true Light in their midst, but have comprehended it not, and have crucified the Lord of glory.Acts 2:37. Κατενύγησαν, they were stung with compunction) So the LXX. render ויתעצבו κατενύγησαν, the men were stung with grief.—εἶπον, they said) The apostles used not to make an end of speaking before that their hearers had shown how they were affected. If the hearers in our day were to signify on the spot what were their feelings at heart, the edification of all would be much more sure and abundant.—τοὺς λοιποὺς, the rest) They perceived that the cause of the apostles was one joint and common cause.—[τί ποιήσωμεν; what shall we do?) The beginning of true conversion is made, when men have come to this question.—V. g.]—ἄνδρες ἀδελφοὶ, men brethren) They had not so spoken before.Verse 37. - The rest for to the rest, A.V.; brethren for men and brethren, A.V. Pricked in their heart (κατενύγησαν). The LXX. rendering of Psalm 109:16 (15, Prayer-book), "broken," or "vexed at the heart." Genesis 34:7 it is rendered "grieved." Unto Peter and the rest of the apostles. It is important to note from the beginning the relative position of Peter and the other apostles; a certain primacy and precedence, both in place and in action, he has undoubtedly. He is always named first, and he acts first, in preaching both to Jews and Gentiles. The keys are in his hands, and the door is first opened as he turns the lock. But it is equally clear that he is but one of the apostles; he is not set over them, but acts with them; he is not their superior, but their fellow; they are not eclipsed by his presence, but only animated by his example; inquirers after salvation do not ask at his mouth only, but of the whole college of the apostles. Brethren (see ver. 29). The Jews and Israelites now hold out the right hand of brotherhood to those whom before they reviled (ver. 13). What shall we do? It is a sign of the working of God's Spirit in the heart, renewing it to repentance, when men feel the need of changing their old course of thought and action, and inquire anxiously what they must do to inherit eternal life (comp. Mark 10:17; Acts 9:6; Acts 16:30). They were pricked (κατενύγησαν)

Only here in New Testament. The word does not occur in profane Greek. It is found in the Septuagint, as Genesis 34:7, of the grief of the sons of Jacob at the dishonor of Dinah. See, also, Psalm 109:16(Sept. 108) Psalm 109:16 : "broken in heart." The kindred noun κατάνυξις occurs Romans 11:8, in the sense of slumber (Rev., stupor). Compare Isaiah 29:10. See, also, Psalm 60:3. (Sept. 59) Psalm 60:3 : οἶνον κατανύξεως, the wine of astonishment (Rev., wine of staggering). The radical idea of the word is given in the simple verb νύσσω, to prick with a sharp point. So Homer, of the puncture of a spear; of horses dinting the earth with their hoofs, etc. Here, therefore, of the sharp, painful emotion, the sting produced by Peter's words. Cicero, speaking of the oratory of Pericles, says that his speech left stings in the minds of his hearers ("De Oratore," iii., 34.)

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