Acts 2:38
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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(38) Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.—The work of the Apostles is, in one sense, a continuation, in another a development, of that of the Baptist. There is the same indispensable condition of “repentance”—i.e. a change of heart and will—the same outward rite as the symbol of purification, the same promise of forgiveness which that change involves. But the baptism is now, as it had not been before, in the name of Jesus Christ, and it is connected more directly with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The question presents itself, Why is the baptism here, and elsewhere in the Acts (Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5), “in the name of Jesus Christ,” while in Matthew 28:19, the Apostles are commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Various explanations have been given. It has been said that baptism in the Name of any one of the Persons of the Trinity, involves the Name of the other Two. It has even been assumed that St. Luke meant the fuller formula when he used the shorter one. But a more satisfactory solution is, perhaps, found in seeing in the words of Matthew 28:19 (see Note there) the formula for the baptism of those who, as Gentiles. had been “without God in the world, not knowing the Father;” while for converts from Judaism, or those who had before been proselytes to Judaism, it was enough that there should be the distinctive profession of their faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, added on to their previous belief in the Father and the Holy Spirit. In proportion as the main work of the Church of Christ lay among the Gentiles, it was natural that the fuller form should become dominant, and finally be used exclusively. It is interesting here, also, to compare the speech of St. Peter with the stress laid on baptism in his Epistle (1Peter 3:21).

Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.—The word for “gift” (dôrea) is generic, and differs from the more specific “gift” (charisma) of 1Corinthians 12:4; 1Corinthians 12:9; 1Corinthians 12:28. The Apostle does not necessarily promise startling and marvellous powers, but in some way they should all feel that a new Spirit was working in them, and that that Spirit was from God.

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.Then Peter said unto them - Peter had been the chief speaker, though others had also addressed them. He now, in the name of all, directed the multitude what to do.

Repent - See the notes on Matthew 3:2. Repentance implies sorrow for sin as committed against God, along with a purpose to forsake it. It is not merely a fear of the consequences of sin or of the wrath of God in hell. It is such a view of sin, as evil in itself, as to lead the mind to hate it and forsake it. Laying aside all view of the punishment of sin, the true penitent hates it. Even if sin were the means of procuring him happiness; if it would promote his gratification and be unattended with any future punishment, he would hate it and turn from it. The mere fact that it is evil, and that God hates it, is a sufficient reason why those who are truly penitent hate it and forsake it. False repentance dreads the consequences of sin; true repentance dreads sin itself. These persons whom Peter addressed had been merely alarmed; they were afraid of wrath, and especially of the wrath of the Messiah. They had no true sense of sin as an evil, but were simply afraid of punishment. This alarm Peter did not regard as by any means genuine repentance. Such conviction for sin would soon wear off, unless their repentance became thorough and complete. Hence, he told them to repent, to turn from sin, to exercise sorrow for it as an evil and bitter thing, and to express their sorrow in the proper manner. We may learn here:

(1) That there is no safety in mere conviction for sin: it may soon pass off, and leave the soul as thoughtless as before.

(2) there is no goodness or holiness in mere alarm or conviction. The devils ...tremble. A man may fear who yet has a firm purpose to do evil, if he can do it with impunity.

(3) many are greatly troubled and alarmed who never repent. There is no situation where souls are so easily deceived as here. Alarm is taken for repentance; trembling for godly sorrow; and the fear of wrath is taken to be the true fear of God.

(4) true repentance is the only thing in such a state of mind that can give any relief. An ingenuous confession of sin, a solemn purpose to forsake it, and a true hatred of it, is the only thing that can give the mind composure. Such is the constitution of the mind that nothing else will furnish relief. But the moment we are willing to make an open confession of guilt, the mind is delivered of its burden, and the convicted soul finds peace. Until this is done, and the hold on sin is broken, there can be no peace.

(5) we see here what direction is to be given to a convicted sinner. We are not to direct him to wait; nor to lead him to suppose that he is in a good way; nor to tell him to continue to seek; nor to call him a mourner; nor to take sides with him, as if God were wrong and harsh; nor to advise him to read, and search, and postpone the subject to a future time. We are to direct him to repent; to mourn over his sins, and to forsake them. Religion demands that he should at once surrender himself to God by genuine repentance; by confession that God is right and that he is wrong; and by a firm purpose to live a life of holiness.

Be baptized - See the notes on Matthew 3:6, Matthew 3:16. The direction which Christ gave to his apostles was that they should baptize all who believed, Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16. The Jews had not been baptized; and a baptism now would be a profession of the religion of Christ, or a declaration made before the world that they embraced Jesus as their Messiah. It was equivalent to saying that they should publicly and professedly embrace Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The gospel requires such a profession, and no one is at liberty to withhold it. A similar declaration is to be made to all who are inquiring the way to life. They are to exercise repentance; and then, without any unnecessary delay, to evince it by partaking of the ordinances of the gospel. If people are unwilling to profess religion, they have none. If they will not, in the proper way, show that they are truly attached to Christ, it is proof that they have no such attachment. Baptism is the application of water, as expressive of the need of purification, and as emblematic of the influences from God that can alone cleanse the soul. It is also a form of dedication to the service of God.

In the name of Jesus Christ - Not εἰς eis, into, but ἐπί epi, upon. The usual form of baptism is into the name of the Father, etc. - εἰς eis. Here it does not mean to be baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ, but it means to be baptized for him and his service; to be consecrated in this way, and by this public profession, to him and to his cause. The expression is literally upon the name of Jesus Christ: that is, as the foundation of the baptism, or as that on which its propriety rested or was based. In other words, it is with an acknowledgment of him in that act as being what his name imports the Sinner's only Hope, his Redeemer, Lord, Justifier, King (Prof. Hackett, in loco). The name of Jesus Christ means the same as Jesus Christ himself. To be baptized to his name is to be devoted to him. The word "name" is often thus used. The profession which they were to make amounted to this: a confession of sins; a hearty purpose to turn from them; a reception of Jesus as the Messiah and as a Saviour; and a determination to become his followers and to be devoted to his service. Thus, 1 Corinthians 10:2, to be baptized unto Moses means to take him as a leader and guide. It does not follow that, in administering the ordinance of baptism, they used only the name of Jesus Christ. It is much more probable that they used the form prescribed by the Saviour himself Matthew 28:19; though, as the special mark of a Christian is that he receives and honors Jesus Christ, this name is used here as implying the whole. The same thing occurs in Acts 19:5.

For the remission of sins - Not merely the sin of crucifying the Messiah, but of all sins. There is nothing in baptism itself that can wash away sin. That can be done only by the pardoning mercy of God through the atonement of Christ. But baptism is expressive of a willingness to be pardoned in that way, and is a solemn declaration of our conviction that there is no other way of remission. He who comes to be baptized, comes with a professed conviction that he is a sinner; that there is no other way of mercy but in the gospel, and with a professed willingness to comply with the terms of salvation, and to receive it as it is offered through Jesus Christ.

And ye shall receive ... - The gift of the Holy Spirit here does not mean his extraordinary gifts, or the power of working miracles, but it simply means, you shall partake of the influences of the Holy Spirit "as far as they may be adapted to your case" - as far as may be needful for your comfort, peace, and sanctification. There is no evidence that they were all endowed with the power of working miracles, nor does the connection of the passage require us thus to understand it. Nor does it mean that they had not been awakened "by his influences." All true conviction is from him, John 16:8-10. But it is also the office of the Spirit to comfort, to enlighten, to give peace, and thus to give evidence that the soul is born again. To this, probably, Peter refers; and this all who are born again and profess faith in Christ possess. There is peace, calmness, joy; there is evidence of piety, and that evidence is the product of the influences of the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," etc., Galatians 5:22, Galatians 5:24.

38. Repent—The word denotes change of mind, and here includes the reception of the Gospel as the proper issue of that revolution of mind which they were then undergoing.

baptized … for the remission of sins—as the visible seal of that remission.

Repent, which includes amendment of life, Matthew 3:8 Luke 3:8. In the name of Jesus Christ; not excluding the name of the Father and the Holy Ghost, in whose name, as well as in the name of the Son, they were to baptize, Matthew 28:19: but the name of Jesus is here mentioned, because they had not yet known (but persecuted and slain) him, whom henceforward they must profess; and that they look for pardon and salvation only through him. For the remission of sins; thus Saul, or Paul, is said to wash away his sins by baptism, Acts 22:16; and this apostle elsewhere says, that baptism saves us, 1 Peter 3:21; which he explains to be, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience, & c. The gift of the Holy Ghost:

1. His internal gifts, confirmation and strengthening in the faith.

2. External gifts, as that of speaking with tongues, which they heard. Both, or either of these, according to their conditions or stations, God would bestow upon them.

Then Peter said unto them,.... Being the mouth of the apostles, and being ready to give advice, and speak a word of comfort to their distressed minds:

repent: change your minds, entertain other thoughts, and a different opinion of Jesus of Nazareth, than you have done; consider him, and believe in him, as the true Messiah and Saviour of the world; look upon him, not any more as an impostor, and a blasphemer, but as sent of God, and the only Redeemer of Israel; change your voice and way of speaking of him, and your conduct towards his disciples and followers; a change of mind will produce a change of actions in life and conversation: bring forth fruits meet for repentance; and make an open and hearty profession of repentance for this your sin. And this the apostle said, to distinguish between a legal and an evangelical repentance; the former is expressed in their being pricked to the heart, on which they were not to depend; the latter he was desirous they might have, and show forth; which springs from the love of God, is attended with views, or at least hopes of pardoning grace and mercy, and with faith in Christ Jesus: it lies in a true sight and sense of sin, under the illuminations and convictions of the Spirit of God; in a sorrow for it, after a godly sort, and because it is committed against a God of love, grace, and mercy, and it shows itself in loathing sin, and in shame for it, in an ingenuous acknowledgement of it, and in forsaking it: and this is moreover urged, to show the necessity of it, as to salvation, for such that God would not have perish, he will have come to repentance; so to their admission to the ordinance of baptism, to which repentance is a pre-requisite; and to which the apostle next advises:

and be baptized everyone of you; that repents and believes; that is, in water, in which John administered the ordinance of baptism; in which Christ himself was baptized, and in which the apostles of Christ administered it; in this Philip baptized the eunuch; and in this were the persons baptized that were converted in Cornelius's house; and it is distinguished from the baptism of the Spirit, or with fire, the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the last clause of this verse; and which ordinance of water baptism was administered by immersion, as the places, Jordan and Aenon, where John performed it, and the instances of it particularly in Christ, and in the eunuch, and the end of it, which is to represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, as well as the primary signification of the word, show. And this is to be done,

in the name of Jesus Christ; not to the exclusion of the Father, and of the Spirit, in whose name also this ordinance is to be administered, Matthew 28:19 but the name of Jesus Christ is particularly mentioned, because of these Jews, who had before rejected and denied him as the Messiah; but now, upon their repentance and faith, they are to be baptized in his name, by his authority, according to his command; professing their faith in him, devoting themselves to him, and calling on his name. The end for which this was to be submitted to, is,

for the remission of sins; not that forgiveness of sin could be procured either by repentance, or by baptism; for this is only obtained by the blood of Christ; but the apostle advises these awakened, sensible, repenting, and believing souls, to submit to baptism, that by it their faith might be led to Christ, who suffered and died for their sins, who left them buried in his grave, and who rose again for their justification from them; all which is, in a most lively manner, represented in the ordinance of baptism by immersion: the encouragement to it follows,

and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: not the grace of the Spirit, as a regenerator and sanctifier; for that they had already; and is necessary, as previous to baptism; unless it should mean confirmation of that grace, and stability in it, as it appears from Acts 2:42 they afterwards had; but rather the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, particularly the gift of speaking with tongues, which Christ had received from the Father, and had now shed on his apostles; see Acts 19:5.

{8} Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

(8) Repentance and remission of sins in Christ are two principles of the Gospel and therefore of our salvation: and they are obtained by the promises apprehended by faith, and are ratified by us in baptism; and with our salvation comes the power of the Holy Spirit (Ed.).

Acts 2:38. What a definite and complete answer and promise of salvation! The μετανοήσατε demands the change of ethical disposition as the moral condition of being baptized, which directly and necessarily brings with it faith (Mark 1:15); the aorist denotes the immediate accomplishment (comp. Acts 3:19, Acts 8:22), which is conceived as the work of energetic resolution. So the apostles began to accomplish it, Luke 24:47.

ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι ʼΙησ Χριστοῦ] on the ground of the name, so that the name “Jesus Messiah” as the contents of your faith and confession, is that on which the becoming baptized rests. Βαπτίζ. is only here used with ἐπί; but comp. the analogous expressions, Luke 21:8; Luke 24:47; Acts 5:28; Acts 5:40; Matthew 24:5, al.

εἰς denotes the object of the baptism, which is the remission of the guilt contracted in the state before μετάνοια. Comp. Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11.

καὶ λήψ.] καί consecutivum. After reconciliation, sanctification; both are experienced in baptism.

τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος] this is the δωρεά itself. Hebrews 6:4; Acts 10:45; Acts 11:17.

Acts 2:38. βαπτισθήτω: “Non satis est Christocredere, sed oportet et Christianum profiteri, Romans 10:10, quod Christus per baptismum fieri voluit,” Grotius. John’s baptism had been a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, but the work of St. Peter and of his fellow-Apostles was no mere continuation of that of the Baptist, cf. Acts 19:4-5. Their baptism was to be ἐπὶ (ἐν) τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰ. Χ. St. Peter’s address had been directed to the proof that Jesus was the Christ, and it was only natural that the acknowledgment of the cogency of that proof should form the ground of admission to the Christian Church: the ground of the admission to baptism was the recognition of Jesus as the Christ. The reading ἐπί (see especially Weiss, Apostelgeschichte, pp. 35, 36) brings this out more clearly than ἐν. It is much better to explain thus than to say that baptism in the name of one of the Persons of the Trinity involves the names of the other Persons also, or to suppose with Bengel (so Plumptre) that the formula in Matthew 28:19 was used for Gentiles, whilst for Jews or Proselytes who already acknowledged a Father and a Holy Spirit baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus sufficed; or to conjecture with Neander that Matthew 28:19 was not at first considered as a formula to be adhered to rigidly in baptism, but that the rite was performed with reference to Christ’s name alone. This difficulty, of which so much has been made, does not appear to have pressed upon the early Church, for it is remarkable that the passage in the Didache 1, vii., 3, which is rightly cited to prove the early existence of the Invocation of the Holy Trinity in baptism, is closely followed by another in which we read (ix. 5) μηδεὶς δὲ φαγέτω μηδὲ πιέτω ἀπὸ τῆς εὐχαριστίας ὑμῶν, ἀλλʼ οἱ βαπτισθέντες εἰς ὄνομα Κυρίου, i.e., Christ, as the immediate context shows.—εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν εἰς, “unto” R.V., signifying the aim. It has been objected that St. Peter lays no stress upon the death of Christ in this connection, but rather upon His Resurrection. But we cannot doubt that St. Peter who had emphasised the fact of the crucifixion would have remembered his Master’s solemn declaration a few hours before His death, Matthew 26:28. Even if the words in this Gospel εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν are rejected, the fact remains that St. Peter would have connected the thought of the forgiveness of sins, a prerogative which, as every Jew was eager to maintain, belonged to God and to God alone, with the (new) covenant which Christ had ratified by His death. Harnack admits that however difficult it may be to explain precisely the words of Jesus to the disciples at the Last Supper, yet one thing is certain, that He connected the forgiveness of sins with His death, Dogmengeschichte, i., pp. 55 and 59, see also “Covenant,” Hastings, B.D., p. 512.—ὑμῶν: the R.V. has this addition, so too the Vulgate (Wycl. and Rheims). As each individual ἕκαστος was to be baptised, so each, if truly penitent, would receive the forgiveness of his sins.—τὴν δωρεὰν, not χάρισμα as in 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Corinthians 12:28, for the Holy Ghost, the gift, was a personal and abiding possession, but the χαρίσματα were for a time answering to special needs, and enjoyed by those to whom God distributed them. The word is used specially of the gift of the Holy Ghost by St. Luke four times in Acts 8:20; Acts 10:45; Acts 11:17, but by no other Evangelist (cf., however, Luke 11:13), cf. Hebrews 6:4 (John 4:10).

38. Repent] This was in accordance with the directions of Jesus before His ascension (Luke 24:47), “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.”

be baptized] Also enjoined by Christ (Matthew 28:19), and while there the baptism is “to be in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” and here it is only said “in the name of Jesus Christ,” we are not to suppose any change made from the first ordinance, but only that as the Church was to be called Christ’s, so in mentioning the Sacrament for the admission of its members His name was specially made prominent. It was belief in Christ as the Son of God which constituted the ground of admission to the privileges of His Church. This made the whole of St Peter’s creed (Matthew 16:16) when Christ pronounced him blessed.

ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost] This is expressly stated to have been given to some of the converts (see Acts 8:17, Acts 10:47, &c.), and we cannot doubt that it was largely bestowed on these earlier penitents.

Acts 2:38. Μετανοήσατε) repent, viz. towards GOD. Thus in this verse there is contained by implication the Holy Trinity [comp. ch. Acts 3:19-20, where the same truth is implied].—βαπτισθήτω, let each of you be baptized) He speaks as of a thing already known to all: for both John and Christ [by His disciples] had administered baptism.—ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ[22] in name of Jesus) See note on Matthew 28:19. [The confession of the Holy Trinity and their offices was the preliminary of baptism. The creeds are but an expansion of this baptismal confession. The Jews, as being already in covenant with God (the Father) by circumcision, were to be baptized in the name (ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι) of Christ, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit: the Gentiles, as being wholly aliens from God, were, according to Matthew 28:19, to be baptized into the name (εἰς τὸ ὄνομα) of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.]—ἁμαρτιῶν, of sins) viz. of that sin which you committed in having crucified Christ (for it was on account of that sin especially that they were suffering such distress of conscience), and of all your other sins. λήψεσθε) ye shall receive) alike as we. We are a living proof to you of the fact.

[22] The fuller reading, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, is preferred in the margin of Ed. 2, which is followed hy the Vers. Germ.—E. B.

Iren. omits Χριστοῦ; but the other oldest authorities have it: and DEde Vulg. Amiat. Cypr. and Lucifer prefix τοῦ Κυρίου, which ABC and Rec. Text omit.—E. and T.

Verse 38. - And for then, A.V.; said (in italics) for said, A.V. and T.R.; repent ye for repent, A.V.; unto for for, A.V.; your sins for sins, A.V. Repent, etc. We have in this short verse the summary of Christian doctrine as regards man and God. Repentance and faith on the part of man; forgiveness of sins, or justification, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, or sanctification, on the part of God. And both these are expressed in the sacrament of baptism, which as it were ties the act of man to the promise of God. For the sacrament expresses man's faith and repentance on one side, and God's forgiveness and gift on the other. Acts 2:38Repent

See on Matthew 3:2.

In the name (ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι)

Lit., upon the name. See on Matthew 28:19.


See on Luke 3:3; and James 5:15.

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