Promise is unto you

The gift of the Spirit is for all men who repent, “even to those afar off,” in fulfillment of the promise of the Father - Acts 2:37-41. 

Cascade - Photo by Henrik Eikefjord on Unsplash
After completing his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter summoned his audience to repent and be baptized “
in the name of Jesus Christ.” But something more than a call to accept the gospel was transpiring for he concluded his sermon on a note of fulfillment, and even more significantly, with a foretaste of things to come - [Photo by Henrik Eikefjord on Unsplash].

His sermon began with a citation from the book of Joel, and it ended with a clause from the same passage, neatly bracketing Peter’s message. What began on Pentecost was the commencement of the era of fulfillment, the messianic age that will continue until the consummation of all things on the “day of the LORD.”

REPENT

What the crowd of Jewish pilgrims “saw and heard” that day was none other than the promised outpouring of the Spirit “in the last days,” just as prophesied by the prophet Joel.

With the Death, Resurrection, and Exaltation of Jesus, the “last days” began in earnest, and therefore, the Spirit was granted to his people, beginning with the fledgling church in Jerusalem, but certainly not ending with them.
  • (Joel 2:28-32) – “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Yahweh shall be delivered; for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those that escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the remnant those whom Yahweh calls.

Considering the unexpected events in Jerusalem, the “day of the LORD” has become more imminent than ever, therefore, everyone who hears Peter’s words must repent, even “as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
  • (Acts 2:37-41) - “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to him. And with many other words, he testified, and exhorted them, saying: Save yourselves from this crooked generation. They, then, that received his word were baptized: and there were added to them in that day about three thousand souls.”

BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT

The arrival of the “promise” was the “gift of the Spirit” promised by Jesus. Just before his ascension, he commanded his disciples to “tarry in Jerusalem” until they were endued with power from on high, the “promise of the Father.”

John baptized “in water,” but the “Coming one” now baptizes “in the Holy Spirit.” Afterward, Christ’s disciples become his witnesses and take his gospel to the “uttermost parts of the earth” - (Acts 1:4-5, Luke 3:16, 24:49).

Niagra Rainbow - Photo by Jason Ng on Unsplash
[Photo by Jason Ng on Unsplash]

The setting of the sermon must be kept in mind. The sights and sounds that accompanied the Spirit caused confusion among the pilgrims gathered at the Temple, “
Jews and proselytes” from at least fifteen nations.

As the editor of Acts, Luke does not list them simply for literary effect, but to make a theological point. The outpouring of the Spirit marks the start of the announcement of the kingdom of God to all nations (“Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven”).

From its start, the covenant with Abraham envisioned a people consisting of more than just his biological descendant1s. At one point, Yahweh showed Abraham the stars of heaven and challenged him to number them if he could. So, also, would be the number of his “seed” - (Genesis 15:5, 17:4-6).

But his physical descendants failed to keep to the covenant. That did not mean Yahweh had rejected Israel. On the contrary, to facilitate their redemption, He promised to provide a new covenant relationship that would include the gift of His Spirit.

The day was coming when Yahweh would “gather you from among the nations and bring you into your own land.” On that day, He would put a “new Spirit within you… And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes” - (Ezekiel 36:24-27).

Thus, the fulfillment of the covenant promise began on Pentecost, not only with the outpouring of the Spirit on the small group of disciples gathered in the city but also with the addition of three thousand converts from among the Jewish pilgrims.

COVENANT FULFILLMENT

But that was only the beginning, for the “promise” is “to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to him.” The proclamation of the gospel began in Jerusalem, but as the book of Acts demonstrates, it progresses from there to “Judea, Samaria,” and even to Rome, the center of the empire.

At the end of the book, we find Paul in the city of Rome under house arrest. Nevertheless, despite his circumstances, he “received all that went to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness,” both to Jews and Gentiles alike - (Acts 28:30-31).

Thus, the gift of the Spirit and the proclamation of the “good news” do not represent a radical departure from the covenant with Abraham, but its fulfillment. What began on Pentecost was only the first stage in taking the kingdom of God to all nations, even “to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

And thus, the “promise of the Father” is for “you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”



Comments

POPULAR POSTS

Kingdom Parables

Responding to Persecutors