Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 13, 1969
NUMBER 40, PAGE 5c-6a

The Conversions At Pentecost

J. D. Floyd

The Apostles — being at the right place, Jerusalem; at the right time, the last days; and in the right place condition, being endued with power from on high — began their work of "preaching repentance and remission of sins;" or, in other words, their work as ambassadors from the court of heaven to alienated man. At this time Jerusalem was full of sojourners, devout Jews from many nations, who had come there to attend the feasts of the law of Moses. The Passover (at which Jesus was crucified) and Pentecost, were fifty days apart. Those living at a great distance, with the methods of travel then in vogue, could not go home and return between the two feasts hence had to remain over in the city.

When the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, with its wonderful consequences, was noised abroad, the multitude came together. Of this multitude, about three thousand were converted on that day. It is well to understand that these were not of the number upon whom the Holy Spirit was poured out, for at that time they were scattered throughout the city, and afterwards came together. That they were unsaved persons is shown by the fact that Peter, speaking as the Spirit gave him utterance, charged them with crucifying Jesus "with wicked hands;" that he told them to "know assuredly" — that is, believe with the fullest confidence — "that God bath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ:" that he commanded them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and that he exhorted them to "save themselves from this untoward generation." But one says: "They were saved, for it is said they were devout men.'-' A devout man is one who is zealous in a religion. These were simply devoted Jews. In Antioch (Acts 13:50) the Jews stirred up the "devout" women, and raised a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and cast them out of the city. At Athens (Acts 17:17) Paul disputed with the Jews and "devout" persons.

Peter began his discourse by removing the false impression that was on the minds of his hearers. This is always necessary. It is no small part of the preacher's work to get erroneous ideas out of people's minds. It frequently requires more time to clear away the briers, thorns, and noxious weeds than it does to plant the seed in the prepared soil. As long as the people thought the apostles were drunk they were not in condition to receive the good seed of the kingdom. Peter first shows them how they could not be drunk, and that all they saw and heard was simply the fulfillment of one of the Old Testament prophecies; then, after earnestly inviting attention to the words he was about to speak, he told the wonderful story of Jesus: how that God had approved him through miracles, signs, and wonders; how, with wicked hands, they had crucified and slain him; how God had raised him from the dead; how the prophecies had been fulfilled in him, closing with these words: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Verse 36.) "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?" (Verse 37.)

When the multitude came together they were in doubt, saying: "What meaneth this?" But after hearing Peter's discourse they are believers. The earnestness with which they ask, "What shall we do?" is proof of this. Had they not believed what they had heard, they would not have been affected by it; neither would they have sought guidance from the apostles. The question, "What shall we do?" implies that they believed there was something for them to do, that they had the ability to do what was required, and the apostles were able to tell them. The fact that Peter, guided by the Spirit, told them what to do, proves there was something to do, and they could do it. Being believers, they asked the question, and verse 38 gives the answer: "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." "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Verse 41.) Were these saved from their sins, reconciled to God? None can doubt it. Upon what conditions? Having heard the gospel, they believed it; in this condition they were commanded to repent and be baptized.

In the "word of reconciliation" committed to the apostles, there were preaching, hearing, faith, repentance, baptism; in this first case of reconciliation after ambassadors were qualified, there were preaching, hearing, faith, repentance, baptism. As this was the beginning of the preaching of repentance and remission of sins in the name of Christ, the inspired historian has given it more in detail than any subsequent cases of reconciliation. The two distinguished gentlemen, who, in 1896, canvassed Tennessee for Governor, each made an opening speech, in which he set forth his principles. Each of these speeches was published in full in the party organs; each candidate made many subsequent speeches, which were published in abridged form. To interpret the full speech in the light of the abridged ones would be unjust, fairness requiring the abridged to be interpreted in the light of the full speech. So in this case: the abridged accounts of conversions in subsequent chapters of Acts should be interpreted in the light of this.

— Gospel Advocate, March 3, 1898