37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Verses 37 and 38 show the immediate result of Peter’s sermon—conviction came upon those who heard his message.
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut [cut violently, pierced] to the heart,
The words “were cut” have the idea of piercing, stabbing. As Jews came to grips with Peter’s message, they were suddenly struck with the conviction that they had crucified the Messiah. They came to the shocking realization that they had been complicit in the rejection of the Messiah for whom they had longed.
The Jews who heard Peter’s sermon came under conviction for rejecting Jesus as their Messiah (Jn 16:8-11). The speech was effective because the Holy Spirit was at work in their hearts. The Jewish hearers of Peter’s sermon took the message personally and applied it to themselves. They bore responsibility and guilt for the Crucifixion of Christ.
and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,
The listeners of Peter’s sermon addressed him and the other 11 apostles also.
“Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
The question of the Jews was how they were to right the wrong they had committed against Christ, their Messiah (Zech 12:10).
Peter answered this question in verse 38. The question was from a group: “What shall we do?” What should the nation Israel do with the rejected and crucified Messiah, the Christ? Their question was one of desperation. The query by the Jews, “What shall we do?” revealed their dilemma as a nation. Now that the nation had rejected the Messiah, what were the options for Israel? They were at a place of desperation. These people believed what Peter preached to them.
Conviction is God’s way of getting the attention of the non-Christian.
Conviction of violating an absolutely holy God is the first factor in coming to Christ. Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to convict the world of their need for salvation (Jn 16:8-11). The next verse answers the question of how a person becomes a Christian.