1. When the day of Pentecost was fully come. The entire period between it and the passover, the waiting period of the disciples, was filled full. Pentecost, one of the three great annual festivals of the Jews, lasted only one day, was on the fiftieth day from the morrow after the passover Sabbath (Lev. 23:15-22). The Savior, crucified on Friday, was in the tomb on the passover Sabbath, and rose on Sunday, the day from whence the count began. The Sunday following would be the eighth day, and the fiftieth day would fall on Sunday, the first day of the eighth week. Hence, the ancient church observed Pentecost on the first day of the week. For fuller discussion, see Meyer, Howson and Milligan on this passage. All agree that Pentecost came on Sunday. Pentecost was the feast of the grain harvest (Exod. 23:16; 34:22, 23), and was also held by the Jews to be the anniversary of the giving of the law. They were all . . . in one place. Not only the apostles, but the hundred and twenty disciples. They probably had an intimation that the promised day had come.
2. There came a sound. As this day, the day of the founding of the church, was to be a day of signs and wonders, the shedding forth of the Spirit was made perceptible to all. The sound was heard, the tongues of fire were seen, the word was spoken in many languages. It filled the house. The mighty sound. At the same time the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, their spirits baptized in the Spirit.
3. There appeared unto them cloven tongues. Luminous tongues sat on each of them, "parting asunder" (Revision), or "distributing themselves" (margin). Meyer says that the idea is that they parted and distributed themselves on those present. These tongues symbolized the fact that the kingdom now inaugurated was to conquer by the spoken word, by the sword of the Spirit.
4. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. All the disciples present. To be filled implies that the human spirit within was overwhelmed by, or immersed in, the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit was not a sprinkling, but an outpouring that overwhelmed the human spirit. Began to speak. This was the "Beginning." See Luke 24:47 and Acts 11:15. With other tongues. In the languages of all the different countries from which Jews had come up to Pentecost. Many would be unable to understand the Hebrew dialect of Judea in that period, and hence, they must be preached to in the tongue of their own country if they understood. That the gospel on this, the first day the Great Commission was ever preached, was preached in all tongues, symbolized the fact that it is for all nations. As the Spirit gave them utterance. They were not allowed to preach the Great Commission until now, in order that every word uttered on this day might be the word of the Spirit, not of man. The words were to be spoken to an audience, not of those in Jerusalem only, but to our whole race in all time, in order to show how sinners are to be saved under the gospel.
5. There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men. Devout Jews who had come up to the great feast of Pentecost. The Jews were already scattered in many nations, but foreign Jews were wont to flock to the great national feasts. Some, too, had come to end their days at Jerusalem. Under heaven. From all quarters of the world. Jews, in foreign lands, attended Pentecost in larger numbers than the other feasts, because the time of year favored travel.
6. The multitude came together. Led by the sound (Revised Version) and the marvellous events. Speak in his own language. Of the foreign country in which he had been reared.
7, 8. Are not all these who speak Galileans? Most of the disciples to this time were. The Galileans were not generally learned men, yet now all hear, every man his own tongue.
9. Parthians. The long list of nations embraces the various races embraced in the we of verse 8. Parthia was east of the Tigris. Elam was an ancient name of Persia. Media, another part of the Medo-Persian empire, east of the Tigris. Mesopotamia was the seat of Babylon. These four countries just named were thickly populated with Jews descended from those carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Cappadocia. A Roman province not far from the Black Sea. Pontus. A province south and east of the Black Sea. Asia. The Roman province of which Ephesus was the capital. All the "seven churches" were in the province called "Asia."
10. Phrygia and Pamphylia. Parts of what is called Asia Minor. Egypt. The great African province where many ten thousands of Jews had their home. Parts of Libya. Of Africa. About Cyrene. A great Grecian city on the coast west of Egypt. It is said that one-fourth of the population of Cyrene was Jewish. Strangers of Rome. Roman Jews sojourning at Jerusalem. Proselytes. Gentiles who had been converted to Judaism.
11. Cretes. From the island of Crete. Arabians. Many Jews dwelt in the desert lands south and east of Palestine, all called generally Arabia.
13. Others mocking. Some were amazed and bewildered; others, stubbornly skeptical, scoffed and suggested that the speakers were drunk. New wine. More exactly, sweet wine, a wine made by soaking raisins, pressing out and fermenting the juice, which was very intoxicating. Most wines of Palestine had very slight intoxicating qualities.
14. Peter, standing up. In the name of all the apostles. Jesus had said (Matt. 16:19) that Peter should receive the keys of the kingdom, and they are now to be used to open its doors. With the eleven. Eleven other apostles besides himself. He now begins the first gospel sermon. He and the apostles now begin their witness to Christ.
15. These are not drunken. It was only the third hour, nine o'clock. The Jews at their festivals seldom ate before this hour, and as their drink was taken at a meal, could not be drunken.
16. This is that which was spoken. He turns to their prophets for an explanation. By the prophet Joel. Who lived about 800 B. C. See Joel 3:1-5.
17. It shall come to pass in the last days. The phrase "Last days" was used by the Jews to denote the last dispensation, that of Christ. See Isa. 2:2. I will pour out of my Spirit. A figurative expression to indicate abundant gifts of the Spirit. On all flesh. On all races, not on the Jews alone. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. "To prophesy" in the New Testament means to communicate religious truth by divine authority, as well as to foretell the future. The prophecy was fulfilled in the inspired speaking on Pentecost and afterwards, as well as by the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9). It will be seen that both sexes are included. See visions . . . dream dreams. Such visions as that of Peter at Joppa. Such dreams as that of Paul at Troas, where he saw the Macedonian asking him to "Come and help us."
19. I will shew wonders in heaven. Peter not only quotes that part of the prophecy of Joel which was applicable to the events now transpiring, but he quotes that part also which pertains to the calamities coming on the Jewish nation, and to the final judgment. I understand verse 19 to apply directly to the overthrow of Judea and Jerusalem.
20. The sun shall be turned into darkness. See notes on Matt. 24:29.
21. Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, etc. To turn to the Lord for salvation in his appointed way. It means far more than simply prayer. He who would call on the name of the Lord for salvation must do more than say, "Lord, Lord, open unto us." He must hear and obey (Matt. 7:21).
22. Hear these words. Peter now begins to preach Christ directly to them. He boldly declares that they knew of his miracles, and wonders and signs. He demonstrates the Messiahship in verses 22-36: 1. By the miracles of which they were witnesses. 2. By his Resurrection, proved (1) by the prophecy of David; (2) by the testimony of all the apostles present who were witnesses; (3) by the phenomena then witnessed, which could be only due to his exaltation to the right hand of God.
23. Being delivered by the determinate counsel. It was the will of the Father that he should die, and was known to the Father before his coming. See Isaiah, chapter 53. By wicked hands have crucified. By the hands of wicked Romans, whom they caused to crucify the Lord.
24. Because it was not possible that he should be holden. It was not possible that Jesus be held by death, because he had life in himself, and, besides, it was the Father's will that he should arise. This verse epitomizes the four Gospels.
25-28. David speaketh. Psa. 16:8-11. 27. Not leave my soul in hell. In hades, the unseen abode of the dead. The meaning is that he would not remain under the power of death. David did not speak this of himself, but of the Son of David. See verse 29. Thy Holy One. The Lord Jesus. The promised Messiah.
29. He is both dead and buried. David. His sepulchre was in their midst, within the walls of the city. All his hearers had seen it.
30. Knowing that God had sworn. God had promised to David that Christ should sit on his throne. See 2 Sam. 7:11-16; Psa. 89:3, 4, 35, 37; 132:11.
32. This Jesus hath God raised up. David foretold it; we are all witnesses of it. There were, including himself, at least twelve witnesses there who had seen the risen Lord again and again. The next point is the exaltation of Christ to a heavenly throne.
33. He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. The supernatural marvels of this wonderful day were the proof of Christ's exaltation. He had shed them forth.
34. For. Peter now shows that David had foretold the exaltation of Christ. David . . . saith. Psa. 110:1. Jesus (Matt. 22:43, 44) quotes the same passage and applies it to himself. The Lord. God, the Father. My Lord. Christ. Sit thou on my right hand. See verse 33. "To sit at the right hand" implies participation in the Supreme Government.
35. Until I make, etc. When the work of the Mediator is ended and all conquered to Christ, then all power is given up to the Father. See 1 Cor. 15:23-28.
36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know, etc. This is the grand climax, the conclusion to which the whole discourse had been directed.
37. When they heard this. The conclusion, supported by such convincing demonstration. Before Peter began to speak they did not understand the signs; but now it was clear to them that they had rejected and crucified the Lord. Pricked in their heart. Convicted of their sins, and pierced with sorrow. They believed Peter's affirmation; their faith revealed their sin in rejecting Christ. Overwhelmed with sorrow, they ask, What shall we do? Is there any way that such sinners can be pardoned?
38. Repent, and be baptized. For the first time the terms of pardon under the New Covenant and the Great Commission are given; given once for all time, and always the same. The convicted, broken-hearted, sorrowing sinner, believing that Jesus is the Christ, is to repent and be baptized. Repent. Not sorrow. They already sorrowed; but a change of purpose; the internal change which resolves to serve the Lord. The Greek term rendered repent, means a change of mind. The act of obedience in baptism is an outward expression of both faith and repentance. In the name of Jesus Christ. "Upon the name" (Revised Version). Upon the ground of the name. In submission to the authority of Jesus Christ. For the remission of sins. Thus, by complying with the conditions just named, they shall receive remission of sins. No man can receive pardon without faith and repentance, nor can he without submission to the will of Christ. "Eis (for) denotes the object of baptism, which is the remission of the guilt contracted in the state before metanoia (repentance)."--Meyer. "In order to the forgiveness of sins we connect naturally with both the preceding verbs. This clause states the motive or object which should induce them to repent and be baptized."--Prof. Hackett. The gift of the Holy Spirit. Promised as a comforter to all who obey Christ, but whom "the world cannot receive."
39. For the promise. Of pardon, and the gift of the Spirit. Unto you. Even unto those who rejected the Lord. To your children. Your children after you. To all that are afar off. To the Gentiles. That he refers to the Gentiles is shown in the next clause, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Peter spake as the Spirit gave him utterance, and perhaps did not fully comprehend his own words.
40. Save yourselves. This was the object of the "many other words." They could "save themselves" by complying with the conditions named in verse 38, and thus accepting Christ as their Savior. From this untoward generation. The wicked Jewish race.
41. They that gladly received his word. Every believing penitent would gladly receive it. Were baptized. Not indefinitely in the future, but that day. The same day there were added about three thousand souls. "It is proper to add that pools numerous and large which encircled Jerusalem, as both those still in use, and as the remains of others testify of at the present day, afforded ample means for the celebration of the rite of baptism. The habits of the East, as every traveler knows, would present no obstacle to such a use of the public reservoirs."--Hackett, Commentary on Acts. It has been objected to the immersion of the three thousand that the apostles could not have done it in one day. We are not told that the apostles only were the baptists, or even baptized at all. There were at least 120 disciples there; perhaps even more on this great day. Perhaps the Seventy were all there. But the apostles alone could have discharged the office. There would be 250 to each one. Sixty persons have been immersed easily in an hour by one person. At this rate the whole work could have been accomplished by twelve men in about four hours. The celebrated Chrysostom, aided by his elders, baptized (immersed) 3,000 in a day in A. D. 404.
42. They continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine. In the things taught by the apostles. And fellowship. Contribution to the common fund and its distribution. The breaking of bread. The Lord's supper. From this time it is observed as an ordinance of the church. In prayers. I think the prayers of the regular worship are meant. These four items are all features of the public church life.
43. Fear came upon every soul. Of the unbelievers.
44. Had all things common. Many, perhaps most, were sojourners at, not citizens of, Jerusalem. It was needful that they remain together for the time, and while sojourning here, they threw their common funds together. Alford says: "In order, however, rightly to understand this community, we may remark, It is only found in the Church at Jerusalem. No trace of its existence is discoverable anywhere else; on the contrary, St. Paul speaks constantly of the rich and poor. See 1 Tim. 6:17; Gal. 2:10; 2 Cor. 8:13, 15; 9:6,7; 1 Cor. 16:2; also James 2:1-5; 4:13."
45. Sold their possessions. Real estate. Goods. Personal property. Parted them to all men. On this special liberality we may note, (1) It partly arose from the non-resident or pilgrim character of a large part of the converts. (2) It was not an obligatory rule; the laws of ownership or property were not disturbed or questioned. Even Ananias might have kept all his land unblamed,
46. Continuing daily . . . in the temple. They gathered there for the purpose of teaching the multitudes. Breaking bread from house to house. Eating their food from house to house. It may refer to observing the Lord's Supper in private residences.
47. The Lord added to the church. This is the first time the church is named as existing. It had been founded on Pentecost. Such as should be saved. "Those being saved" (Revised Version). Those being saved on the conditions that the Gospel imposes the Lord added to his church.