Acts chapter 2

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

New King James Version

What does Acts chapter 2 mean?

Acts 2 presents the end of the age of the Mosaic law and the beginning of the church age. Ever since the Israelites escaped slavery in Egypt, God had dealt with His creation primarily through the law He gave Moses. As the Israelites abided by the law, God blessed them. When they broke the law, God judged them. Hundreds of years of history proved the Israelites were incapable of fully keeping the law. No one can be good enough to earn God's favor. God must bridge the gap caused by sin in order to bestow His forgiveness.

This is why He sent His Son, Jesus. With His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, Jesus was the perfect, sinless sacrifice that can stand in that gap caused by sin. His death fulfilled the requirement that sin always brings death and granted an "imputed" sinlessness on whoever believes Him (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The Mosaic law has proven it cannot save, only Jesus can and will. Now it's time to spread that good news.

Jesus provided the way of salvation. Yet His incarnation and immediate presence—one individual in one geographical region with a three-year ministry—is not the best way to spread the news to the world. For that, God chooses to rely on Jesus' followers, but they will not be alone (John 16:7–11). The job is too big. He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in each believer, equipping them for the job ahead. And so, as Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His followers to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4–11).

A little over a week after Jesus' ascension, about 120 Jesus-followers wait together in Jerusalem. Apparently without warning, the Holy Spirit fills the house with a sound like a great wind and lands on each believer, giving them the ability to speak different languages. Jerusalem is filled with visitors who have come to celebrate Pentecost. They hear the different dialects and are astounded—how did Galileans get this ability? Some are curious; others are dismissive (Acts 2:1–13).

Peter, ever the spokesman but now enlightened by the Holy Spirit, addresses the crowd. The prophet Joel prophesied this moment (Joel 2:28–32). This is the "last days" when God will pour out His Spirit. This is the time of prophecies and visions and dreams. Jesus of Nazareth is revealed as the Jewish Messiah they've been waiting for. His miracles attest to the truth. He fits David's prophecies (Psalm 16:8–11; 110:1). And these men standing with Peter are witnesses that Jesus died and rose again (Acts 2:14–36).

When the crowd realizes they are complicit in the murder of God's Messiah, their reaction is immediate. They follow Peter's guidance to repent of their sins, trust Jesus to forgive them, and agree to be baptized as a public admission of their new loyalty. In response to their faith, the Holy Spirit comes on them. In all, about three thousand make this commitment (Acts 2:37–41).

Many of the 120 who receive the Holy Spirit that morning have known each other for years, presumably some for their whole lives (Acts 1:12–15). By nightfall, about three thousand will join them. Many of the new believers have no real idea of who Jesus is beyond Peter's quick sermon. So the infant church provides what's needed: teaching about Jesus from the apostles, affirmation of the message through signs and wonders, community through joint meals, and a unity that extends even to personal property. In one day, the church is created (Acts 2:42–47).
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: