“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
Explanation and Commentary of Acts 2:38
“Brothers, what shall we do” is the question that Peter is answering to the multitude who is asking. It is the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, as prophesied by Joel, and as promised by Christ has been poured out in a powerful manifestation, so much so that the effects are obvious to the onlookers. Peter has a new boldness and authority and preaches the Gospel with great urgency, so that the listeners, who delivered to Jesus to be killed on the cross, are cut to the heart.
Repentance and baptism are the proper responses when one finds themselves able to believe in Jesus and his death for him on the cross. When we are born again, we can see the Kingdom of God (Jn 3:3) and will feel the urge to call on the name of the Lord to be saved (Ro 10:13). At the same time, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given. God makes a home in our new regenerated spirit by his Holy Spirit. By his Spirit we are emboldened, empowered, and kept for salvation until the return of Christ or until we die to go and be with God in heaven.
Baptism is commanded as a sign of our belief and repentance. It does not save, but it is commanded by Christ. In obedience, we submit to baptism to proclaim that the death and resurrection of Jesus is not only a reality but that it is a reality for us individually.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Acts 2:38
#1 “Peter replied,”
As stated previously, Peter was responding to a desperate question from a newly convicted crowd. Powerful preaching will have the effect of making the hearers aware of their sin and their great need for a Savior. A desperation to be saved is a good sign of the work of God on a heart.
To repent is to turn away from your sins and go towards God and his righteousness. It is no good to say you believe but then refuse to change (Ro 6:2). Repentance is saying to God that you are sorry for what you have done and that you want to be different.
#3 “…and be baptized,”
In the Great Commission, Jesus sent his disciples out to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is an outward sign of your confession before the church. It does not save, but it symbolizes the faith and declaration that does save. To refuse baptism would be a good sign that someone is unrepentant.
#4 “every one of you,”
Each person individually must decide if he or she will put their faith in Jesus.
#5 “in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
Jesus himself said that we must be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Peter is emphasizing the name of Christ because that is where the focus of his message is.
#6 “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Peter was well aware of the benefit of the gift of the Holy Spirit, having been an extremely recent recipient of it. His sermon was in part an explanation of the work of the Holy Spirit upon those who had received it.
Bible Study on Acts 2:38
Expert Overview of Acts Ch. 1-12
Biblical Translations of Acts 2:38
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
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.”
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.