From Acts to the Epistles
Arlen L. Chitwood
Continuing from the Gospels
Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6b).
Prior to His death, burial, and resurrection, Christ and His disciples carried a message to Israel pertaining to “the kingdom of the heavens.” Then, during the forty days of His post-resurrection ministry, Christ spoke to His disciples of “things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Matthew 4:17-25; 10:5-8; Acts 1:3). And immediately before His ascension, Christ spoke to them of the coming baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4, 5; cf. Matthew 3:11).
Christ spoke to the disciples of the coming baptism in the Holy Spirit at the climax of His earthly ministry, and since the Spirit being present after the fashion to which Christ referred is inseparably connected with Israel and the kingdom (Acts 2:4ff; cf. Joel 2:27-32; Acts 2:14-21), the question that the disciples asked could only have been expected of them: “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6b).
The message concerning the kingdom was the subject pervading every thought in the disciples’ minds at this time. And, for a number of years following Pentecost, in relation to Israel, the message proclaimed had to do with the kingdom, as before. The message proclaimed to Israel during this time was a continuation of the message previously proclaimed by Christ and His disciples. It was a re-offer of that which had previously been offered — the kingdom of the heavens.
The same individuals Christ had previously sent to Israel continued to carry a message to Israel surrounding the kingdom, attended by the same supernatural signs, wonders, and miracles. There were though two main differences in the original offer and the re-offer.
Rather than accusing Israel of rejecting and killing only the prophets that God had sent unto them, to reveal to them “the coming of the Just One” (Matthew 23:34-37), the messengers now accused Israel, as well, of rejecting and crucifying the One of whom the rejected and slain prophets had spoken, i.e., Messiah Himself (cf. Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-15; 4:10; 5:28-30; 7:51-53).
Then the other main difference lay in the fact that the kingdom had been taken from Israel at the conclusion of the original offer, and the Church had been called into existence to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected. Thus, in the re-offer, it was the infant Church — entirely Jewish for the first few years of its existence — which was in possession of the kingdom (though yet to be realized). And God used those in the Church to reach Israel with a message concerning something that no longer belonged to Israel.
In the gospel accounts, Israel was the rightful possessor of the kingdom of the heavens (though, again, yet to be realized). Israel had been made the repository for both spheres of the kingdom (heavenly and earthly), something that went all the way back to promises given to Abraham (e.g., Genesis 22:17, 18; cf. Genesis 14:17-22; Hebrews 11:8-16). Thus, preceding the events of Calvary, Israel was offered something rightfully belonging to the nation; and the kingdom could have been established at that time, conditioned upon Israel’s national repentance and baptism.
But in the book of Acts, Israel was no longer the rightful possessor of the kingdom. A new entity — the “one new man” in Christ — had been called into existence to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected. And in the re-offer of the kingdom, it was this new entity that proclaimed the message to Israel, for those forming this new entity were now the rightful possessors of the kingdom.
The Re-offer of the Kingdom
This re-offer of the kingdom to Israel is something that Christ had foretold during His earthly ministry, during the original offer. Note the parable of the fruitless fig tree in Luke chapter thirteen.
He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.
Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’
But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.
And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9)
The picture is that of fruit being sought from the fig tree (Israel) at two different times, which would correspond to times both before and after the events of Calvary and the calling into existence of the Church. And, though Christ cursed the fig tree following the nation’s failure to bring forth fruit preceding Calvary, the roots remained. This allowed the Vinedresser to “dig around it and fertilize it,” giving the fig tree another opportunity to spring forth and bear fruit.
And it mattered not that Israel (through the nation’s religious leaders) had previously committed a sin that would not be forgiven the nation for two ages (Matthew 12:22-32), or that Christ had previously pronounced that the fig tree would remain fruitless for an age (Matthew 21:19), there was still a cultivating and a fertilizing of the fig tree following the events surrounding Calvary and the calling into existence of the Church. And, though Israel and those proclaiming the message were living during the age in which Israel couldn’t bear fruit, the cultivating and fertilizing of the fig tree were done with a view to Israel bearing fruit (though, again, Israel couldn’t bear fruit during this time).
Some students of the Word studying the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel in the book of Acts would see major problems in this whole line of thought, for Israel couldn’t possibly have accepted the re-offer. And, since that was correct, how could a bona fide re-offer of the kingdom have been made?
The kingdom had been taken from Israel, and the “one new man” in Christ had been called into existence to bring forth fruit in the realm where Israel had failed. And God must carry out and complete His work with this new creation, which would take 2,000 years, completing man’s 6,000-year day — time which must transpire before the kingdom could be restored to Israel.
Thus, since this was the situation at that time, again the question: How could a bona fide re-offer of the kingdom have been made to Israel? It would have been impossible for Israel to accept (cf. Matthew 19:26).
Bear one thing in mind, and the seeming dilemma can be easily resolved. Exactly the same situation existed in the previous offer. Israel, in actuality, couldn’t have accepted then either. It would have been just as impossible then as later. Both the events surrounding Calvary and the existence of the Church, were dealt with in the Old Testament (mainly in the types); and the things that had previously been stated surrounding both had to be brought to pass.
That would be to say, to fulfill Old Testament prophecy (numerous prophecies), not only must the Passover Lamb be slain, but the Church must be called into existence. And only Israel could slay the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12), which meant rejection of both the King and the kingdom on Israel’s part in order for the numerous Old Testament prophecies to come to pass.
Thus, when all of this is put together, there is only one possible conclusion that can be reached. Israel had to reject the offer of the kingdom of the heavens at Christ’s first coming, for Messiah had to be rejected and slain by Israel, and the Church had to subsequently be called into existence. All of this had already been foretold by Moses and the prophets, and matters had to come to pass exactly as recorded in God’s previous revelation to man.
And, in this respect, there was really nothing to prevent a re-offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel following the events of Calvary and the calling into existence of the Church that did not exist when the kingdom of the heavens was offered to Israel the first time. Both the events surrounding Calvary and the calling into existence of the Church could be seen in one respect before Christ’s first coming and in another respect shortly after Christ’s ascension; and an offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel in either instance would, of necessity, have been the same — a bona fide offer that couldn’t possibly have been accepted.
Signs, Wonders, and Miracles
A major thing that has to be taken into consideration — the thing that will possibly shed more light on this whole matter than anything else — is properly understanding the place that signs, wonders, and miracles occupy throughout both the original offer and the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel.
Signs, wonders, and miracles have to do with two things — 1) Israel, and 2) the kingdom — and both Israel and the kingdom must be in view at the same time for signs, wonders and miracles to exist. If there is an absence of either one (either Israel, or the kingdom), signs, wonders, and miracles, as seen throughout the gospel accounts and the book of Acts, cannot exist.
1. Signs, Wonders, and Miracles in the Old Testament
Signs, wonders, and miracles, performed through individuals, were manifested only on two occasions in all of the Old Testament.
They were manifested by Moses and Aaron surrounding Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, with a view to the nation’s entrance into the land of Canaan; and they were manifested by Moses’ successor, Joshua, surrounding Israel’s subsequent entrance into the land of Canaan (Exodus 4:29-31; 7:10ff; Joshua 3:7ff; 10:12-14).
That was the first occasion. The second was a manifestation by Elijah and his successor Elisha, some five hundred years later (1 Kings 17:1ff; 2 Kings 2:13ff).
Outside of these two occasions there is not a single reference to an individual being empowered to perform signs, wonders, and miracles throughout all of the Old Testament Scriptures. Numerous miracles are recorded in these Scriptures (e.g., the burning bush that was not consumed [Exodus 3:2], the sun being moved back ten degrees on the dial [Isaiah 38:7, 8], the three Israelites being protected in the fiery furnace [Daniel 3:19-25], or Jonah being raised from the dead [Jonah 1:17-2:10]), but these were miraculous works performed directly by God, not by individuals whom God had empowered to perform them.
Note that the manifestation of signs, wonders, and miracles during the days of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua was in relation to Israel and the kingdom. Supernatural manifestations of power occurred relative to Israel being removed from Egypt and being established in the land of Canaan, within a theocracy.
Thus, a first-mention principle was set forth at this point in Scripture, establishing an unchangeable truth. Any time there is a mention of signs, wonders, and miracles being performed by individuals beyond this point, both Israel and the kingdom have to be in view.
During the days of Elijah and Elisha the people of Israel had been established in the land, within a theocracy, for about five hundred years. But, because of continued disobedience on the part of the people, the theocracy never reached the heights that God had intended. The theocracy reached its greatest heights during the days of David and his son Solomon (though far from the heights that God had intended); but after that, following the division of the kingdom, things began to go in another direction entirely. And it was during these days that Elijah was called forth (with Elisha finishing his ministry) to call the nation to repentance.
The manifestation of signs, wonders, and miracles accompanying their ministry pertained to Israel and the kingdom. They had to, for a first-mention principle had previously been established; and any future manifestation had to be exactly in accord with the way matters were set forth at the beginning.
The signs, wonders, and miracles were simply the credentials of those manifesting them in Israel’s presence. Through a manifestation of supernatural powers accompanying the message, Israel was to recognize that the messenger had been sent from God; and the people were to heed the message accordingly (Exodus 4:1-9, 29-31).
The people of Israel though failed to heed the message; the nation didn’t repent. And the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities followed (722 B.C. and 605 B.C. respectively).
“The times of the Gentiles” began with the Babylonian captivity, has lasted to the present day, and will last until the end of the Tribulation. This is simply a prolonged, uninterrupted period of time — lasting about 2,600 years — during which Israel must dwell apart from a theocracy and remain scattered among the Gentile nations. And the Gentiles, among whom Israel dwells, will hold the scepter throughout this time.
2. Signs, Wonders, and Miracles in the New Testament
After moving through 1,500 years of Jewish history and seeing signs, wonders, and miracles manifested at only two different points within that history, things suddenly changed. Israel’s Messiah (following the ministry of His forerunner, John the Baptist) appeared with a message concerning the kingdom of the heavens; and this message was accompanied by numerous signs, wonders, and miracles (Matthew 4:17-25; 8:1ff).
Then, in conjunction with and very early in His ministry, Christ called twelve disciples to help carry this message; and they were empowered to perform signs, wonders, and miracles in connection with their ministry as well (Matthew 10:5-8).
(Also, Jesus later “appointed” seventy others to go “before His face into every city and place, where He Himself was about to go” — though very little is said about them in the gospel accounts — and He empowered them to perform signs, wonders, and miracles [Luke 10:1-19]. Thus, at this time, there was a manifestation of supernatural signs in the camp of Israel unlike anything heretofore seen in the history of the nation.)
Christ had been sent only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), and Christ sent the disciples whom He called to Israel alone (Matthew 10:6). Both Christ and His disciples went to Israel with the same message and the same accompanying manifestation of supernatural powers. It was a message surrounding the offer of the kingdom of the heavens to the nation, attended by a manifestation of signs, wonders, and miracles.
Whether it was Jesus or His disciples proclaiming the proffered kingdom, signs, wonders, and miracles accompanied their ministry and formed the credentials of those carrying the message. They were supernatural events that authenticated their message as being true and from God (John 3:1, 2; Acts 2:22; cf. Exodus 4:1-9). The religious leaders in Israel were to see these signs, wonders, and miracles and know, from these, that the messengers were God-sent. Then, believing and understanding the message that they had heard, they were responsible for carrying it to the people of Israel (cf. Exodus 4:29-31; Numbers 13:1-26).
However, exactly the opposite occurred when the message was proclaimed by Christ and His disciples. The religious leaders not only refused to believe the message, but they, in their unbelief, carried a false message to the people of Israel (Matthew 12:14-32; 23:13).
(This is why Christ, near the end of His earthly ministry, condemned the actions of the Scribes and Pharisees — the fundamental religious leaders of that day — in no uncertain terms [Matthew 23:1ff]. They had heard the true message, and they had seen the accompanying miraculous powers, authenticating the message; but they had rejected the message and had sought to do away with the accompanying supernatural powers mainly through attacking the Messenger.
The Scribes and Pharisees had sought to discredit the Messenger in the eyes of the people, bringing about reproach on the Messenger and casting doubt on His message [e.g., Matthew 9:27-34; 12:22-24; cf. John 12:10, 11]. And, whether by word or deed, this resulted in their bearing a false message to the people of Israel [Matthew 23:13].)
And all of this had its end result in Israel’s rejection of not only the message but the Messenger as well, the removal of the kingdom of the heavens from Israel, the crucifixion of Israel’s Messiah, and the bringing into existence of a separate and distinct entity to be the recipient of that which had been offered to and rejected by Israel. Israel failed to bring forth fruit in relation to the kingdom of the heavens, and the “one new man” in Christ was called into existence to be accorded the opportunity to bring forth fruit in this realm (Matthew 21:33-43).
But, though the kingdom was taken from Israel and the Church was called into existence to be the recipient of this offer, there was a re-offer of the kingdom to Israel. And, if for no other reason, this is evident because of the continuance of signs, wonders, and miracles.
That would be to say, If God had terminated His dealings with Israel at or before the time that the Church was called into existence, signs, wonders, and miracles would have ceased to exist. These supernatural works have nothing to do with the “one new man” in Christ (who is “neither Jew nor Greek” [Galatians 3:28]). They have to do with Israel alone (1 Corinthians 1:22), and they have to do with Israel in relation to the kingdom.
These supernatural works were manifested by those carrying the message to Israel (Acts 2:4; 3:1ff; 4:29-33; 5:12ff; 6:8ff); and when Gentiles began to be added to the body of Christ, they were manifested within churches comprised of saved Gentiles, such as the church in Corinth (chapters 12-14). And a manifestation of supernatural works in the Church after this fashion was centered on the thought of provoking Israel “to jealousy” (Romans 10:19; 11:11, 14). That is, God was using those whom Israel considered Gentile dogs to manifest supernatural powers that naturally belonged to Israel in order to provoke the nation to jealousy.
And, between a segment of the “one new man” in Christ carrying the message to Israel and another segment seeking to provoke the nation to jealousy — all being done through a manifestation of signs, wonders, and miracles — the Jewish people were dealt with in what might be considered a maximum manner. In one respect, God pulled out all stops (cf. Luke 10:13-24; 11:29-32); but the religious leaders in Israel would still have nothing to do with the message.
A) Viewing Things from the Beginning
The true nature of the events that occurred on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in the first two chapters of the book of Acts — when the re-offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel began — is not understood in Christendom today at all. Whole denominations have been built on a false understanding of these chapters, and cult groups have seized upon Acts 2:38 as revealing the way in which a person is to be saved; and practically the whole of Christendom, to counter the teaching of the cults, has taught things concerning this verse that are equally erroneous.
And, if either Christian groups or the cult groups understood that which is stated in the verses leading into Acts 2:38, the whole matter wouldn’t even exist. Neither one would act so completely out of line with Scripture.
The matter really doesn’t revolve around what Acts 2:38 states per se. Rather, the matter revolves around what is stated in the verses leading into Acts 2:38. Understand the contextual verses first; then the text can be properly understood. It’s that simple (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:13).
Attention has already been called to what the Lord taught His disciples throughout the forty days of His post-resurrection ministry, to the Lord’s promise concerning the Spirit, and to the question that the disciples posed (Acts 1:3-6). In view of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:27-32), the disciples could only have associated the coming of the Spirit with the kingdom. Thus, they asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6b).
And, that this is the correct interpretation of the passage, note what happened on the day of Pentecost, note the way that the Spirit of God worded matters in the recorded account, and note the way that the disciples understood the whole of that which occurred.
On the day of Pentecost, 30 A.D., one hundred twenty believers were waiting in a home in Jerusalem for the Spirit that Jesus had, ten days prior to that time, promised. They were “all with one accord in one place,” waiting (Acts 2:1).
Then, “when the day of Pentecost was fully come,” just as the Lord had previously promised (though not having specified the particular day), the one hundred twenty were all “immersed in the Holy Spirit” (literal rendering of the promise in Acts 1:5; cf. Matthew 3:11).
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4)
The promise concerning the Spirit being sent in Acts 1:5 had to do with immersion in the Spirit, and that promise was fulfilled in Acts 2:4 through those immersed in the Spirit also correspondingly being filled with the Spirit. And this same work of the Spirit can be seen occurring at subsequent times in other parts of the book of Acts as well (e.g., 10:45; 11:15, 16; cf. 9:17, 18; 19:16).
An experience of this nature, of course, has no parallel in Christendom today. When an individual is saved by grace through faith today, the norm is always the same. Immersion in the Spirit always occurs at the point of salvation (1 Corinthians 12:13), and the filling of the Spirit is always a subsequent experience (intimately and inseparably connected with maturity in the faith [cf. Ephesians 5:18, 19; Colossians 3:16]). The two never occur simultaneously today, as in the first two chapters of Acts and several other parts of the book.
And there is a clearly revealed reason why these differences exist in Scripture. In short, one experience is seen during the time when the kingdom was being re-offered to Israel (especially during the early years), and the other is seen toward the end of and following this time.
The emphasis in Acts, chapter two is on Israel and the kingdom, not on the Church. Though the Church was brought into existence on this day as the entity in possession of the kingdom of the heavens and the entity through which God would extend a re-offer of the kingdom to Israel, events throughout Acts chapter two are Jewish.
Acts chapter two records the beginning of a re-offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel, an offer connected with Joel’s prophecy and an offer attended by signs, wonders, and miracles. And the immersion in and the filling with the Spirit that were brought to pass on this day had to do with a beginning fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
An immersion in and a filling with the Spirit in connection with Joel’s prophecy — something experienced by individuals on the day of Pentecost and at subsequent times during the period when the kingdom was re-offered to Israel (from 30 A.D. to about 62 A.D.) — cannot be the norm for any type Christian experience today, for Joel’s prophecy is not presently being fulfilled. The fulfillment of this prophecy has been set aside until such a time as God once again resumes His dealings with Israel.
And though Christians experience an immersion in and a filling with the Spirit throughout the dispensation, there are marked differences when these experiences are either connected with or separated from Joel’s prophecy. This is something that the Spirit of God deals with in the New Testament through the use of two different Greek words for “fill.”
The word in the Greek text for fill in Acts 2:4 is not the same as the word for fill in Ephesians 5:18. The word used in Acts 2:4 is pimplemi (pletho [a different rendering of the same word] in some lexicons or concordances), and the word used in Ephesians 5:18 is pleroo. Both words mean “to fill”; but there is a contextual difference in how the words are used, seen in the purpose in view.
Pimplemi in Acts 2:4 is used in a manner that refers to individuals being filled with the Spirit in view of an end or a conclusion of something being attained. This is the word, for example, that is used referring to Elizabeth being brought to full-term in her pregnancy, prior to the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57). And, in conjunction with this thought, it is also the word used of John the Baptist being “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).
John was the forerunner of the Messiah. He was the one who appeared to Israel with the message first, “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). And note the terminal point — the kingdom was at hand. And John was filled with the Spirit, from his mother’s womb, to proclaim this fact as he went forth preparing the way for the Messiah.
This word is used five times in the book of Acts referring to individuals being filled with the Spirit (2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9). The first occurrence has to do with events on the day of Pentecost; the second occurrence has to do with Peter; the third occurrence has to do with individuals collectively (as on the day of Pentecost); and the fourth and fifth occurrences have to do with Paul, following his conversion on the Damascus road.
In the first three occurrences, where the filling of the Spirit is referred to by the word pimplemi, a message to the Jews is in view; and that message is accompanied by signs, wonders, and miracles. That is, a re-offer of the kingdom to Israel is in view, accompanied by miraculous signs.
Then, when Israel reached a climactic point in the nation’s rejection of the kingdom in Acts 7:54ff (similar to the climactic point that the nation reached in the original offer [Matthew 12:22ff]), Paul appears in the book for the first time (Acts 7:58), the Samaritans appear in the book for the first time (Acts 8:5), and Paul was subsequently saved as the apostle who would carry the message concerning the proffered kingdom to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-15).
Note the order for the proclamation of this message as originally given to the disciples in Acts chapter one.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Paul was the one called to carry this message to the latter group. And the word pimplemi is used of Paul being filled with the Spirit for power, to carry this message, simply because the offer of the kingdom was still open to Israel (with the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy still being in view); and the offer would remain open for about another thirty years.
The fact that the offer was still open to Israel was the reason Paul always went “to the Jew first” before turning to the Gentile, though he was the apostle called to go to the Gentiles. The order in Romans 1:16, in accord with Acts 1:8, was “to the Jew first”; and Paul didn’t, he couldn’t, violate this order (note that the book of Romans was written very near the end, though within, the approximately thirty-two-year period in which the kingdom of the heavens was re-offered to Israel).
The word Pleroo though, used for the filling of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18, is used in a different manner. Both pleroo and pimplemi mean “to fill”; and both words can be used referring to an end or to the fulfillment of something, such as “time,” etc. (e.g., Acts 7:23, 30); but the use of pleroo in Ephesians 5:18 is not connected with Joel’s prophecy. The Holy Spirit previously used pimplemi for that purpose, at a time when the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy was in view.
Note that the Holy Spirit was very careful in His use of words in Acts 2:2-4.
The word used for “fill” in verse two is pleroo, referring to the house where the disciples were waiting, which was filled by “a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind”; but the Spirit of God changed words when He wanted to reveal the true nature of individuals inside that house being “filled” with the Spirit in verse four. Here He used pimplemi, and He continued to use pimplemi for this purpose (or a cognate, pleres [6:3, 5, 8; 7:55; 11:24]) in other parts of the book of Acts.
Joel’s prophecy either being fulfilled or not being fulfilled is the key. The Spirit used pimplemi to describe His filling work in connection with the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy; and the Spirit later used pleroo to describe His filling work apart from the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. This is the distinguishing difference that marks the way that the two words are used in Scripture.
(The preceding presents the basics of how two different Greek words for “fill” are used in the New Testament — something that will allow a person to better grasp the true nature of that which began on the day of Pentecost and continued for about thirty-two years. And possessing at least some understanding of this period is vital to a correct understanding of the central subject matter in both the book of Acts [which presents a history of this period] and the epistles that follow [which were written either during the latter part of or immediately following this period].)
B) The Day of Pentecost
On the day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. there were Jews gathered in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven. The day of Pentecost was one of three annual feast days (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) that adult Jewish males were required to keep in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:1-16), and some had to travel long distances to get to Jerusalem in order to keep these feasts. Consequently, it was only natural that many Jews who came for the feast of Passover would remain in Jerusalem until the feast of Pentecost, slightly over fifty days later. Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, estimates that there possibly may have been as many as 2,000,000 Jews in Jerusalem on this day in 30 A.D.
Thus, the Spirit was sent on a day when numerous Jews from every nation under heaven were in Jerusalem; and those filled with the Spirit were empowered to proclaim a message concerning the kingdom to these Jews, in all the various languages of their native countries. And these Jews were, in turn, expected to carry the message back to other Jews in the countries from which they had come.
This was the beginning of the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel, a ministry which would last for about thirty-two years (until about 62 A.D.).
Then, in conjunction with the one hundred twenty being filled with the Spirit there was a corresponding beginning fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (vv. 15-21). Then Peter delivered a message to Israel, which, after different fashions, became quite common in the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel (vv. 22-36; cf. 3:12-26; 4:5-12; 5:12-16, 29-32; 6:8-7:53). And that with which the religious leaders and all the others in Israel were confronted is also something that became quite common (vv. 37-41; cf. 4:1-4, 13-22; 5:17-28, 33-42; 7:54-60).
The religious leaders, confronted with what they had done, asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (v. 37). And Peter told them exactly what they must do: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you [national repentance and baptism]…” (v. 38; cf. Matthew 3:1ff).
Only through this means could the wrong be corrected (the Jewish people, having previously rejected the message and crucified the Messenger, now changing their minds [vv. 22, 23, 36-38a]); only through this means could the Jewish people receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v. 38b; cf. vv. 4, 16-21; Acts 10:45; 11:15, 16), which had to do with Joel’s prophecy; and only after the Jewish people had done this would Messiah return and dwell in Israel’s midst, resulting in the complete fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:27ff; Acts 3:19-21).