Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.…
As the result of Peter's sermon, a form of society rises which had never appeared before. New forces act upon the social natures of men, and bring them together with new feelings for new engagements.
I. THE INCORPORATING PRINCIPLE OF THIS NEW SOCIETY. The magnet that drew together and centralised into a loving unity these souls which a few hours ago were so discordant, were —
1. The apostle's word — i.e., Peter's sermon.
2. The apostle's word received. They were convinced of its truth, and accepted it as a Divine reality.
3. The apostle's word received gladly; for while it convinced them of enormous wickedness, it assured them of salvation. Christ, then, as He said, was the rock on which He built His Church.
II. THE INTRODUCTIVE CEREMONY TO THIS NEW SOCIETY. Baptism is a symbolical ordinance, which expresses the twofold truth of the moral pollution of humanity, and the necessity of an extraneous influence to cleanse its stains. These truths these sinners felt under Peter's sermon; and, as the most proper thing, they were admitted into communion with the disciples by an impressive declaration of them. As to the mode, this is a trifle interesting only to those religionists who live on rites. When it is remembered that Jerusalem had only the fountain of Siloam as its water supply, that the three thousand were baptized in one day which had commenced its noon, and that they included both sexes, it is impossible that they could all have been immersed in water. However, the mode of the act is nothing, the spirit is everything.
III. THE UNREMITTING SERVICES OF THIS NEW SOCIETY. They were "persevering" in —
1. The teaching. After their conversion they had much to learn; so this new society became a society of students — they "inquired" in the house of the Lord. They regularly attended the teaching as distinguished from all other.
2. The fellowship. They appreciated the communion of saints. They regarded themselves as members of a brotherhood, whose rules they were bound to obey, and whose interests they were bound to promote. In this fellowship, like saints of old, they "spake often one to another," considered one another "to provoke unto love and good works," exhorted "one another daily," endeavoured to "edify one another," and perhaps confessed their "faults one to another."
3. The breaking of bread, in accordance with their Master's dying command.
4. The prayers, probably prayer meetings.
IV. THE DISTINGUISHING SPIRIT OF THIS NEW SOCIETY.
1. Reverence. "Fear came upon every soul." Whilst they were happy, there was no frivolity. They felt God was near, because of the "wonders and signs."
2. Generosity. Selfishness had no place here. Their benevolence —
(1) Inspired them to make sacrifices. The love of property gave way to love of man. The law of social Christianity enjoins the strong to help the weak, and all to bear each other's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
(2) Adjusted itself to the occasion. The circumstances justified this particular effort. Many came from a distance, and were unprepared to settle down; and many of them, too, were poor. The benevolence of those who had property, therefore, was called out to meet the case. This, consequently, cannot be regarded as a precedent binding on future times, nor is there a word in the narrative to imply this.
3. Gladness. The rich were happy, for their benevolence was gratified in giving. The poor were happy, for their hearts glowed with gratitude in receiving. All were happy in themselves and with each other, because happy in God.
4. Simplicity. There was no pride, ostentation, self-seeking, hypocrisy among them; but all were childlike in spirit.
5. Religiousness. "Praising God" — a summary of the whole.
V. THE BLESSED CONDITION OF THIS NEW SOCIETY.
1. Their influence was great. They had favour, not with a class — not with priests, Pharisees, Sadducees — but with all the people.
2. Their growth was constant. They were neither declining nor stationary; they were daily increasing. This was "the Lord's" doing. He only can add true men to the Church.
3. Their salvation was promising. "Such as were in the way of salvation."
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.