The First Reading for the third Sunday in Easter is from the Acts of the Apostles. The text is Acts 2:14a, 36-41 and provides a great deal of information on the doctrine and practice of Baptism. The text is a short portion of the Apostle Peter’s sermon address at Pentecost. The Spirit of the LORD has been poured out on the disciples, and because there is a large crowd gathered in Jerusalem to observe and celebrate Pentecost, it draws a lot of attention—some of it negative. After Peter’s initial address many were, “cut to the heart,” and wanted to know what to do. Peter responds, “Repent and be baptized…”
In our text we learn that Baptism is in the name of Jesus Christ and grants forgiveness and gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Faith is worked in the heart. The baptized one is saved and now is separated from the unbelievers. This work of giving faith by the Spirit prepares the newly baptized for a walk of faith. “Saving yourself from this crooked generation…,” is saying to separate yourself from the unbelievers and walk in faith as a baptized child of God. This is your new identity.
Of course, many will use this text to speak against infant baptism while others will use it in support of the same. The population being addressed is primarily Jewish adults who have gathered faithfully in Jerusalem and are called upon to believe and be baptized. However, this in no way excludes children as verse 39 indicates. Nor would the people gathered that day consider baptism to be only for the believing, repenting, confessing adult. This is obviously a Jewish crowd who has been practicing the sacrament of circumcision since the days of Abraham. Paul (Colossians 2) and others have been very clear how circumcision is now replaced by the sacrament of baptism and circumcision is an infant sacrament that brings the people into the covenant. Unless told specifically “DO NOT BAPTIZE BABIES,” the common practice would be to include infants in this new sacrament. Just as there was adult and infant circumcision practiced in the Old Testament, there was adult and infant baptism practiced in the New. Even in the case of females, adults and children, they were not excluded from the sacrament of circumcision because the mark of the covenant in the flesh of the father/husband extended to the whole family.
2:14a Σταθεὶς from: ἵστημι Aorist, passive participle: “to stand up; to rise”
ἐπῆρεν from: ἐπαίρω Aorist: “to lift up”
ἀπεφθέγξατο from: ἀποφθέγγομαι Aorist, middle: “to utter; to speak (as in a speech or important utterance)”
2:36 ἀσφαλῶς “assuredly; for certain”
γινωσκέτω Present, imperative: “to know”
ἐσταυρώσατε from: σταυρόω Aorist: “to crucify”
2:37 Ἀκούσαντες Aorist, participle: “to hear”
κατενύγησαν from: κατανύσσω Aorist, passive: “to pierce; to cut sharply; to penetrate (the heart)”
ποιήσωμεν Aorist, subjunctive: “to do”
2:38 Μετανοήσατε from: μετανοέω Aorist, imperative: “to change one’s mind; to repent”
βαπτισθήτω from: βαπτίζω Aorist, passive, imperative, 3rd singular: “to baptize; to apply water in cleansing”
λήμψεσθε from: λαμβάνω Future, middle: “to receive”
2:39 προσκαλέσηται from: προσκαλέομαι Aorist, middle subjunctive: “to call to”
2:40 πλείοσιν from: πολύς “many”
διεμαρτύρατο from: διαμαρτύρομαι Aorist, middle: “to bear witness; to call to witness; to make a solemn attestation”
παρεκάλει from: παρακαλέω Imperfect: “to exhort; to encourage”
Σώθητε from: σῴζω Aorist, passive, imperative: “to save”
2:41 ἀποδεξάμενοι from: ἀποδέχομαι Aorist, middle participle: “to welcome; to receive”
ἐβαπτίσθησαν Aorist, passive: “to baptize”
προσετέθησαν from: προστίθημι Aorist, passive: “to add to”
*Note there is no mention that the newly baptized spoke in tongues in spite of having received the Holy Spirit.
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Acts 2:14a, 36-41.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Acts 2:14-41.