We have in this chapter the well-known narrative of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, together with the connected events of Pentecost Day. Perhaps this narrative is so well-known that we are almost inclined to pass over it in our Bible discussion. This, of course, would be a mistake: not only because there are, undoubtedly, many things in the chapter that can be the subject of a fruitful discussion, but, especially, because this coming of the Lord Jesus in the Spirit is fundamental to the entire book of Acts. If it were not for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into the Church, there would be no acts of the apostles. In fact, there would be no apostles.
The events recorded in this chapter stand therefore in close connection with the theme of the book of Acts; namely, the things that Jesus continued to do. The work of the Lord Jesus, that is, the work of saving His people and gathering His church, could not very well be conceived of as continuing, were it not for this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And that this is correct is very plain from the fact that the apostles in their preaching do not stress the nature and operation of the Holy spirit as such, but rather lay all the emphasis upon what the crucified, raised, and exalted Christ does. It is Christ Who receives the Spirit, pours forth His spirit into His Church, and thus operates unto salvation through the Spirit.
In connection with this chapter, there is ample occasion and opportunity to discuss the work of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of Pentecost. This should not be overlooked when we pay attention to the details of this chapter.
We will follow the most natural division of the chapter, distinguishing four main sections, under each of which we will present a few questions for study. However, we caution you at this point to read the chapter a few times and to discover questions and answers of your own, before you turn to the questions presented below.
I. The Event of Pentecost as Such, vss. 1-4:
A. The Occasion
1. The time, vs. 1
a. How is the time indicated in the text? How does the Revised Version render it?
b. Does this mean that the morning of Pentecost had fully dawned? Or does it mean that the Old Testament Day of Pentecost was finished, had been fulfilled, so that it was the day after, and again, not the Jewish sabbath of the seventh day, but the New Testament sabbath of the first day?
c. What was the nature and idea of the Old Testament Pentecost feast? Does this have any connection with the timing of the outpouring of the Spirit?
d. Beside the matter of the meaning of the old dispensational feast, is there any othe reason connected with the timing of this wonder of grace? Did the Lord have a purpose with the outpouring of the Spirit on exactly this occasion? cf. vs. 5
2. Place and persons involved: (vss. 1,2)
a. Who are the “they” of vs. 1?
b. Where were they gathered? Vss. 1,2.
c. What is the significance of these facts? What did these people constitute? Why is not Pentecost’s wonder connected with the temple and the temple service and the temple personnel? Did this signify the end of the temple service? If so, why do we nevertheless find that the temple often seems to be the center of activity for the early church?
1. What were the signs accompanying the outpouring of the Spirit? What was the unusual aspect of these signs? Why, especially in connection with the outpouring of the Spirit, were these signs necessary?
2. What was the total significance of the signs? vs. 4a. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit did not operate in the church unto salvation before this? If not, what was actually the change brought about by this event? Is it correct to denote Pentecost Day as the birthday of the church?
3. What was the individual significance of each sign? Substantiate your explanation in the light of Scripture.
4. Was the sign of the tongues the same as the sign of speaking with tongues referred to in I Cor. 14?
5. Is the church still filled with the Spirit now, as then?
6. Why is not the indwelling of the Spirit in the Church still accompanied by miraculous signs? Or is it, perhaps?
II. Immediate Reaction, vss. 5-13.
A. The Multitude:
1. What occasioned the coming together of the multitude? vs. 6. See also the RevisedVersion: “when this sound was heard.” Does this refer to the sign of vs. 2, the sound as of a wind? Or does it refer to an oral report which quickly spread through the city?
2. What was the make-up of this multitude which formed the audience of the first Pentecost sermon? vss. 5, 9-11.
a. What is meant by “devout men”?
b. What is meant by “every nation under heaven”?
c. Is there any significance in the order in which the various nationalities are mentioned?
d. If these people were Jews, what is meant by the different languages referred to?
B. The Reaction:
1. What was the general reaction of the multitude? vss. 6, 7, 12.
2. What especially occasioned this reaction?
a. Was it only the different languages spoken, or also the speakers, and also the contents of their speech?
b. Is it possible that there was also a miracle of hearing connected with the sign of various tongues?
3. What two distinct reactions were expressed, vss. 12, 13?
a. Are the “others” of vs. 13 to be included in the “devout men” of vs. 5? See also question A, 2, a.
b. What accounts for this mocking reaction?
c. What purpose must this reaction of vss. 12 and 13 serve?
III. Peter’s Sermon, vss. 14-36.
A. Peter’s reference to Joel’s prophecy:
1. Who are addressed in this sermon? Why? Did this have any effect on Peter’s method of preaching?
2. What is Peter’s answer to the charge of drunkenness, and how is it an effective answer?
3. What, according to Joel, would be the effect of the outpouring of the Spirit? Vss.17, 18.
a. Distinguish dreams, visions, prophesying.
b. Was this part of the prophecy actually fulfilled on the day of Pentecost and thereafter?
c. Are there still such effects of the indwelling of the Spirit today, or were these things temporary and limited to the time of “direct revelation”?
4. What is the meaning of “all flesh” in vs. 17?
5. How do the signs mentioned in vss. 19 and 20 fit into the picture?
a. Is Pentecost also the realization of this part of the prophecy? Explain.
b. What is meant by the “great and notable day of the Lord”?
6. In regard to vs. 21:
a. Is this also part of the prophecy fulfilled on Pentecost? In what sense?
b. What is the force of the “whosoever” – general? conditional?
c. What is it to “call on the name of the Lord”? How does that take place?
d. What is the connection between “Calling on the name of the Lord” and being “saved”?
B. Rehearsal of the History of Jesus of Nazareth. Vss. 22-36.
1. His sojourn and death:
a. Why does Peter use the terms “Jesus of Nazareth” and “a man”?
b. How does Peter establish Jesus’ approval by God? What are miracles? wonders? signs?
c. What two aspects of the crucifixion stand side by side in vs. 23?
1) What is meant by “determinate counsel”? “foreknowledge”?
2) What is the relation between the cross in the counsel of God and the cross as the accomplishment of wicked hands?
3) Was it necessary and proper for Peter to speak so accusingly? Did he speak correctly in thus accusing the entire multitude of the sin of the crucifixion?
4) What does this have to do with Joel’s prophecy and with the outpouring of the Spirit?
2. The Resurrection: vss. 24-32.
a. With what Old Testament Scripture does Peter connect the resurrection?
b. How does Peter demonstrate that this quotation has reference to the Christ?
c. And how does Peter establish that this Messianic prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth?
3. The Exaltation: vss. 33-36.
a. What Old Testament passage is referred to here?
b. Is there any connection between the outpouring of the Spirit and the triumph of Christ over His foes?
c. What is meant by the “promise of the Holy Ghost” and Christ’s reception of it?
d. What is the connection between the exaltation of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit?
e. What does Peter refer to when he says: “he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear”?
f. What is the significant conclusion of Peter’s sermon? Is the outpouring of the Spirit, then, in demonstration that Jesus is made Lord and Christ?
4. Can we learn anything from this sermon of Peter as to what constitutes true preaching?
C. Exhortation to repent and believe: vss. 37-40.
1. Reaction to Peter’s preaching, vs. 37:
a. What was the effect upon the multitude? What does it mean to be “pricked in heart”?
b. What did these pricked in heart ask? Was this a proper question?
c. Was this reaction simply due to the preaching of Peter? If so, why did not all react in the same way?
2. Peter’s exhortation, vss. 38-40.
a. Does Peter tell them to do anything? What?
b. Does the gift of the Holy Ghost follow repentance and baptism? In what sense?
c. What is the basis and reason given in vs. 39 for the exhortation of vs. 38?
1) Who are “You and your children”?
2) Who are “All that are afar off”?
3) What is the limitation given in this verse? What is meant here by the calling?
4) How does this form a reason for calling to repent and be baptized?
d. How is the admonition “Save yourselves,” or, “Be saved” to be understood?
e. What is meant by “untoward generation”?
f. In the light of vs. 40a, is this a complete narrative of what took place on Pentecost Day?
g. Can this last part of Peter’s sermon be characterized as the “altar call”?
A. Fruit upon the preaching: vs. 41.
1. Who were baptized?
2. How many were baptized? How was the ceremony of baptism celebrated for such a large number of converts?
3. What is the significance of the words “were added”?
B. Picture of the Early Church at Jerusalem:
1. What characterized the believers at this time? What is the meaning of these various descriptive terms? Is there any connection between the various characteristics? What is to be understood by the “breaking of bread”?
2. What, beside the preaching, was of influence in the growth of the Church? vs. 43.
3. Why was there such a rapid growth of the church at this time, while the Lord Jesus Himself was forsaken by the multitudes?
4. Was communism introduced into the church at this time? Vss. 44, 45.
5. What is the meaning of the expression “having favour with all the people”?
6. What is the significance of the expression “such as should be saved”?
It is very evident that Acts does not record, and does not intend to record, all of the acts of the apostles, nor even all of the acts of some of the apostles. In this particular section of the book, we are given the highlights of the origin and growth of the new dispensational church. Thus, in the present chapter, and in much of the following chapters, we find our attention centered on a single incident. This is again in harmony with the subject of the book (what Jesus continued to do). This is the first recorded miracle performed by Jesus through the apostles. And it undoubtedly was only one of many such miracles. But notice that all the emphasis is on the fact that the risen and exalted Jesus is the Author of this miracle, just as well as if He Himself were still on earth and performing miracles. He therefore continued to perform miracles even as He continued to cause His Word to be heard through the apostles. It is worthy of note too that this miracle does not stand by itself in the narrative, but serves as an occasion for the preaching. In fact, the miracle, as such, is almost overshadowed by the sermon that follows it. And it is to be noticed, in general, that in the book of Acts, not nearly so much notice is given to the miracles, as to the preaching of the apostles.
The chapter very nicely divides itself into the following two main sections:
I. The Miracle: vss. 1-11:
1. What is the time of the miracle?
2. Where does the miracle take place?
3. Who was the object of the miracle? What was his affliction? Was he well-known? How long had he been so afflicted? Cf. also Acts 4:22. Was he looking for a miracle?
4. What is the significance of the above facts, or are they merely incidental?
B. The Miracle as Such:
1. How was the miracle, as such, performed?
a. Why does Peter say: “Look on us”? vs. 4.
b. Why does he use the expression “In the name of…”? What does this expression mean? Does it merely refer to the authority of Jesus? Cf. also vs. 16.
c. Is there any significance in the fact that Peter took the man by the hand?
2. How effective was the miracle? Does the text leave any doubt as to the complete healing of the man? Is he only given power to walk? Is it not also significant that a man like this did not have to learn to walk like a babe, seeing he had never walked before?
C. Significance of the Miracle:
Note: As we know, miracles are also signs of the wonder of grace. And although Peter does not lay emphasis on the symbolism of the miracle, that significance is there, and one can see the connection between the miracle as a sign and the preaching of Peter also. Hence:
1. What, if any, is the symbolic meaning of this lameness from his mother’s womb?
Prove your answer. Think of the Scriptural figure of a man’s walk, his path, of “the way of God’s commandments,” and of “running the way of God’s commandments.”
2. And what then is the significance of the miracle of the healing of this lameness?
D. The effect of the miracle:
1. What did the healed man do?
2. What was the effect upon the people? Why? Were they not somewhat accustomed to miracles because of the many performed by Jesus?
II. Peter’s Sermon, vss. 12-26.
A. Explanation of the Miracle:
1. What, evidently, seemed to be the opinion of the people as to the authority of this miracle? Vs. 12. Why does Peter first of all contradict this opinion?
2. What is the main thought in this sermon?
3. Why the reference to the “God of Abraham,” etc.?
4. Why does Peter again stress very strongly their delivering up of Jesus? Note and explain the names used: Holy One, Just, Prince of life. vss. 13, 14, 15.
5. What is the significance here again of the reference to the resurrection? vs. 15. Any specific connection with the miracle?
6. What is the meaning of “His name…hath made this man strong”?
7. What is the position of faith here?
a. Whose faith is meant – the lame man’s or the apostles’, or the faith of both?
b. Is this simply so-called “miraculous faith”?
c. Did the lame man evince any faith? When?
8. What was the nature of the ignorance mentioned in vs. 17?
9. Does this change the reality of Christ’s suffering and the meaning of that suffering? Vs. 18.
B. Appeal and Exhortation to Repentance:
1. What does Peter call upon them to do? vs. 19. Upon what basis?
2. What is the connection between this repentance and the blotting out of sins?
3. What and when are the times of refreshing? vss. 19-21.
4. What is meant by:
a. the sending of Jesus Christ? vs. 20. Is this a reference to His second coming?
b. the reference to His being preached before? vs. 20.
5. What is meant by “the times of the restitution of all things”?
6. Why the reference to Old Testament prophecy?
7. Why is the audience addressed as children of the covenant? vs. 25.
a. Was this true of them all?
b. In what sense is Jesus sent after the resurrection?
c. For whom is the blessing, and what was the blessing mentioned in vs. 26? What is the significance of “every one of you” in vs. 26?