Acts 2 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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Verse 2

[2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven — So will the Son of man come to judgment.

And it filled all the house — That is, all that part of the temple where they were sitting.

Verse 3

[3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And there appeared distinct tongues, as of fire — That is, small flames of fire. This is all which the phrase, tongues of fire, means in the language of the seventy. Yet it might intimate God's touching their tongues as it were (together with their hearts) with Divine fire: his giving them such words as were active and penetrating, even as flaming fire.

Verse 4

[4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And they began to speak with other tongues — The miracle was not in the ears of the hearers, (as some have unaccountably supposed,) but in the mouth of the speakers. And this family praising God together, with the tongues of all the world, was an earnest that the whole world should in due time praise God in their various tongues.

As the Spirit gave them utterance — Moses, the type of the law, was of a slow tongue; but the Gospel speaks with a fiery and flaming one.

Verse 5

[5] And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews — Gathered from all parts by the peculiar providence of God.

Verse 6

[6] Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

The multitude came together, and were confounded — The motions of their minds were swift and various.

Verse 9

[9] Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

Judea — The dialect of which greatly differed from that of Galilee.

Asia — The country strictly so called.

Verse 10

[10] Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Roman sojourners — Born at Rome, but now living at Jerusalem. These seem to have come to Jerusalem after those who are above mentioned. All of them were partly Jews by birth, and partly proselytes.

Verse 11

[11] Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Cretans — One island seems to be mentioned for all.

The wonderful works of God — Probably those which related to the miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, together with the effusion of his Spirit, as a fulfilment of his promises, and the glorious dispensations of Gospel grace.

Verse 12

[12] And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

They were all amazed — All the devout men.

Verse 13

[13] Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

But others mocking — The world begins with mocking, thence proceeds to cavilling, Acts 7:58. These mockers appear to have been some of the natives of Judea, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, (who understood only the dialect of the country,) by the apostle's immediately directing his discourse to them in the next verse.

They are full of sweet wine — So the Greek word properly signifies. There was no new wine so early in the year as pentecost. Thus natural men are wont to ascribe supernatural things to mere natural causes; and many times as impudently and unskilfully as in the present case.

Verse 14

[14] But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

Then Peter standing up — All the gestures, all the words of Peter, show the utmost sobriety; lifted up his voice - With cheerfulness and boldness; and said to them - This discourse has three parts; each of which, Acts 2:14,22,29, begins with the same appellation, men: only to the last part he prefixes with more familiarity the additional word brethren.

Men of Judea — That is, ye that are born in Judea. St. Peter spoke in Hebrew, which they all understood.

Verse 15

[15] For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

It is but the third hour of the day — That is, nine in the morning. And on the solemn festivals the Jews rarely ate or drank any thing till noon.

Verse 16

[16] But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet — But there is another and better way of accounting for this. Joel 2:28

Verse 17

[17] And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

The times of the Messiah are frequently called the last days, the Gospel being the last dispensation of Divine grace.

I will pour out of my Spirit — Not on the day of pentecost only, upon all flesh - On persons of every age, sex, and rank.

And your young men shall see visions — In young men the outward sense, are most vigorous, and the bodily strength is entire, whereby they are best qualified to sustain the shock which usually attends the visions of God. In old men the internal senses are most vigorous, suited to divine dreams. Not that the old are wholly excluded from the former, nor the young from the latter.

Verse 18

[18] And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

And upon my servants — On those who are literally in a state of servitude.

Verse 19

[19] And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

And I will show prodigies in heaven above, and signs on earth beneath — Great revelations of grace are usually attended with great judgments on those who reject it.

In heaven — Treated of, Acts 2:20.

On earth — Described in this verse. Such signs were those mentioned, Acts 2:22, before the passion of Christ; which are so mentioned as to include also those at the very time of the passion and resurrection, at the destruction of Jerusalem, and at the end of the world. Terrible indeed were those prodigies in particular which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem: such as the flaming sword hanging over the city, and the fiery comet pointing down upon it for a year; the light that shone upon the temple and the altar in the night, as if it had been noon-day; the opening of the great and heavy gate of the temple without hands; the voice heard from the most holy place, Let us depart hence; the admonition of Jesus the son of Ananus, crying for seven years together, Wo, wo, wo; the vision of contending armies in the air, and of entrenchments thrown up against a city there represented; the terrible thunders and lightnings, and dreadful earthquakes, which every one considered as portending some great evil: all which, through the singular providence of God, are particularly recorded by Josephus.

Blood — War and slaughter.

Fire — Burnings of houses and towns, involving all in clouds of smoke.

Verse 20

[20] The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

The moon shall be turned into blood — A bloody colour: before the day of the Lord - Eminently the last day; though not excluding any other day or season, wherein the Lord shall manifest his glory, in taking vengeance of his adversaries.

Verse 21

[21] And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

But — whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord - This expression implies the whole of religion, and particularly prayer uttered in faith; shall be saved - From all those plagues; from sin and hell.

Verse 23

[23] Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God — The apostle here anticipates an objection, Why did God suffer such a person to be so treated? Did he not know what wicked men intended to do? And had he not power to prevent it? Yea. He knew all that those wicked men intended to do. And he had power to blast all their designs in a moment. But he did not exert that power, because he so loved the world! Because it was the determined counsel of his love, to redeem mankind from eternal death, by the death of his only-begotten Son.

Verse 24

[24] Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Having loosed the pains of death — The word properly means, the pains of a woman in travail.

As it was not possible that he should be held under it — Because the Scripture must needs be fulfilled.

Verse 25

[25] For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

Psalms 16:8.

Verse 27

[27] Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou wilt not leave my soul in hades — The invisible world. But it does not appear, that ever our Lord went into hell. His soul, when it was separated from the body, did not go thither, but to paradise, Luke 23:43. The meaning is, Thou wilt not leave my soul in its separate state, nor suffer my body to be corrupted.

Verse 28

[28] Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life — That is, Thou hast raised me from the dead.

Thou wilt fill me with joy by thy countenance — When I ascend to thy right hand.

Verse 29

[29] Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

The patriarch — A more honourable title than king.

Verse 30

[30] Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

Psalms 89:4, etc.

Verse 32

[32] This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

He foreseeing this, spake of the resurrection Of Christ — St. Peter argues thus: It is plain, David did not speak this of himself. Therefore he spake of Christ's rising. But how does that promise of a kingdom imply his resurrection? Because he did not receive it before he died, and because his kingdom was to endure for ever, 2 Samuel 7:13.

Verse 33

[33] Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

Being exalted by the right hand of God — By the right hand; that is, the mighty power of God. Our Lord was exalted at his ascension to God's right hand in heaven.

Verse 34

[34] For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

Sit thou on my right hand — In this and the following verse is an allusion to two ancient customs; one, to the highest honour that used to be paid to persons by placing them on the right hand, as Solomon did Bathsheba, when sitting on his throne, 1 Kings 2:19; and the other, to the custom of conquerors, who used to tread on the necks of their vanquished enemies, as a token of their entire victory and triumph over them.

Verse 35

[35] Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

Until I make thine enemies thy footstool — This text is here quoted with the greatest address, as suggesting in the words of David, their great prophetic monarch, how certain their own ruin must be, if they went on to oppose Christ. Psalms 110:1.

Verse 36

[36] Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Lord — Jesus, after his exaltation, is constantly meant by this word in the New Testament, unless sometimes where it occurs, in a text quoted from the Old Testament.

Verse 37

[37] 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?

They said to the apostles, Brethren — They did not style them so before.

Verse 38

[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.

Repent — And hereby return to God: be baptized - Believing in the name of Jesus - And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost - See the three-one God clearly proved. See Acts 26:20. The gift of the Holy Ghost does not mean in this place the power of speaking with tongues. For the promise of this was not given to all that were afar off, in distant ages and nations. But rather the constant fruits of faith, even righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Whomsoever the Lord our God shall call — (Whether they are Jews or Gentiles) by his word and by his Spirit: and who are not disobedient to the heavenly calling. But it is observable St. Peter did not yet understand the very words he spoke.

Verse 40

[40] And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

And with many other words did he testify and exhort — In such an accepted time we should add line upon line, and not leave off, till the thing is done.

Save yourselves from this perverse generation — Many of whom were probably mocking still.

Verse 41

[41] Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

And there were added — To the hundred and twenty.

Verse 42

[42] And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

And they continued steadfast — So their daily Church communion consisted in these four particulars: 1. Hearing the word; 2. Having all things common; 3. Receiving the Lord's Supper; 4. Prayer. Ye diff'rent sects, who all declare, Lo here is Christ, and Christ is there; Your stronger proofs divinely give, And show me where the Christians live!

Verse 43

[43] And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

And fear came upon every soul — Of those who did not join with them: whereby persecution was prevented, till it was needful for them.

Verse 45

[45] And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

And sold their possessions — Their lands and houses; and goods - Their movables.

And parted them to all as any one had need — To say the Christians did this only till the destruction of Jerusalem, is not true; for many did it long after. Not that there was any positive command for so doing: it needed not; for love constrained them. It was a natural fruit of that love wherewith each member of the community loved every other as his own soul. And if the whole Christian Church had continued in this spirit, this usage must have continued through all ages. To affirm therefore that Christ did not design it should continue, is neither more nor less than to affirm, that Christ did not design this measure of love should continue. I see no proof of this.

Verse 46

[46] And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Continuing daily — breaking the bread - in the Lord's Supper, as did many Churches for some ages.

They partook of their food with gladness and singleness of heart — They carried the same happy and holy temper through all their common actions: eating and working with the same spirit wherewith they prayed and received the Lord's Supper.

Verse 47

[47] Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The Lord added daily such as were saved — From their sins: from the guilt and power of them.