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 is one of the most debated verses of the Bible because it implies baptismal regeneration; that is, water baptism as a requirement for salvation.
38 Then Peter said to them,
Peter’s answer pertained to the nation Israel who spurned Jesus’ offer to set up His kingdom on earth. They attributed what He did to the work of Satan (Mt 12:24). That was the final straw, and Jesus turned from offering His kingdom to Israel and turned to work toward the launch of the church.
“Repent [second person plural],
The word “repent” does not mean to feel sorry for one’s sins, as some people promote. “Repent” means to change the mind; “repent” comes from two words: change and mind. The idea of repenting is a right-about-face, a complete change of viewpoint or worldview. The Jews to whom Peter preached were to change their minds about Christ being the Messiah. They were to save themselves from a perverse generation (Acts 2:40). Repentance is a synonym with faith; it is the framework whereby a person exercises faith in Christ. Repentance is not a separate act from trusting Christ.
The Jews hearing Peter’s sermon needed to change their stance on who Christ was and what He did about sins. Repentance, then, is not a change from sinful practices but a conversion of belief; it is the same idea as believing in Christ or trusting Him for salvation. It is the acceptance of God’s provision of salvation and that it is sufficient to save the soul.
A change of mind affects the direction of one’s life, but the central point is a change of viewpoint or heart toward something (Acts 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 13:24; 17:30; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20).
Repentance is a radical change of viewpoint; it is to shift from belief about one thing to faith in another. This radical change of belief in one thing to another is an emphasis throughout this book by Luke: Acts 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 17;30; 20:21; 26:20.
Repentance meant, for the Jews listening to Peter’s sermon, that they were to radically change their attitude about who Christ was; He was the Messiah and the Savior. They were to repent of crucifying Him.
Repentance does an about-face to embrace Jesus Christ and His work of saving our souls.
Repentance is far more than mere sorrow for sin. Sorrow may be a part of repentance, but it is not essential to it. Neither is repentance mental assent to a proposition. Repentance is a change of life or change of heart. Peter’s challenge was to embrace a different worldview, from rejecting Christ to accepting Him as the Messiah.
In our passage in Acts, the one condition for forgiveness of sins is “repentance” (Acts 3:19). To repent is to align oneself with God and His way of salvation. Repentance is a radical change of mind about Christ the Messiah and trust in His shed blood for forgiveness. The next verse links forgiveness to repentance, not baptism, as we will see in a subsequent study.
The gospel summary presented in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 does not mention baptism. In the first chapter, Paul said that he came not to baptize (1 Co 1:14-16). The next part of Acts 2:28 distinguishes the gospel from baptism (1 Co 1:17).