Rethinking Acts 2.38 / Randy White

As a Biblical literalist, I am never satisfied with interpretation that is dismissive with regard to words of Scripture. I firmly—even unwaveringly—hold to the principles of verbal plenary inspiration, that God has given us words, and that words matter. I interpret the Bible literally, I want a translation that is word-for-word (not idea-for-idea), and I want every word taken seriously.

This is rare in itself in today’s church. But, even among those who claim to interpret the Bible as I do, I am amazed at how quickly we settle for something less than our standard when it comes to difficult passages like Acts 2:38.

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.” (Acts 2:38, NKJV)

Earlier in Acts 2, after the receiving of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles began the great task of obedience to the Great Commission. Having not received the “utterance from God’s mouth” (Acts 22:14) that would reveal the mystery of the age of grace (in which there was neither Jew nor Greek, but whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved), the Day of Pentecost sermon from Peter on that day was, by necessity, a Jewish message of the coming Kingdom. Peter was rightly convinced that the end-times had arrived. If Paul was right about his mystery being untraceable and unsearchable in previous generations, then Peter made the only conclusion he possibly could have known without further revelation. He did not have any clue about the postponement of the Kingdom and the insertion of a mystery age into the plan of God. Only later, after adopting the mystery of Paul, did Peter give testimony that the great and glorious day of the Lord would be postponed, even to the point that some would call it “slowness.”

Read more of this instructive commentary HERE.

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