What does Acts 2:37 mean?
ESV: Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
NIV: When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
NASB: Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what are we to do?'
CSB: When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: "Brothers, what should we do?"
NLT: Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, 'Brothers, what should we do?'
KJV: Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
NKJV: 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?”
Verse Commentary:
A large group of people who are in Jerusalem for Pentecost have just heard Peter give the first Christian sermon. These are particularly God-fearing Jews and proselytes (Acts 2:5, 11) who have been presented with historical and theological proofs that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah. Peter's last point, still ringing in the air, is that the Jews killed their own Savior.

"Cut," or "pierced" in other translations, is from the Greek root word katanusso and means to receive a sharp pain in concert with great sorrow. That they were "cut to the heart" means they understand that they crucified David's heir, the Messiah. Their horror delves past their surface emotions and thoughts and deep into their being.

Undoubtedly, not every person in Peter's audience was in Jerusalem when Jesus was killed. Even fewer, if any, were in the crowd that called to crucify Him (Mark 15:12–14). But God's primary relationship with the nation of Israel has always been communal. Salvation has always been an individual issue based on faith (Hebrews 11:1–2). But the Old Testament is filled with stories of how God blessed or punished Israel as a group for the obedience or disobedience of the nation as a whole. Even Daniel, an extremely godly man, repented for the sins of his people as if he had committed them himself (Daniel 9:1–19).

Their question is the most important we can ask when faced with our own rebellion against God. It is by the grace of Jesus and the work of His death and resurrection that we can be assured there is an answer. "Repent…" Peter says, "for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). That is the answer for us, as well.
Verse Context:
Acts 2:37–41 shows the first mass influx of people into the church. Men in Jerusalem for Pentecost from across the Roman Empire and beyond are startled to find 120 Galileans speaking their native languages (Acts 2:1–13). Peter uses passages from Joel and Psalms to support his points on several ideas: that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Jews had Him killed, God raised Him from the dead, and His resurrection provides hope of forgiveness for His followers (Acts 2:14–36). The crowd is stunned and reacts in the only logical way possible, asking, ''What shall we do?'' (Acts 2:37). Peter explains their need for salvation, and thousands respond.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 2 describes the beginning of the church in three episodes. First, the Holy Spirit comes upon the Jesus-followers in Jerusalem, equipping them with the ability to teach the gospel in different languages (Acts 2:1–13). Second, Peter gives a public declaration using Old Testament prophecy to show Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah (Acts 2:14–36). Third, people believe. They repent, trust Jesus will forgive their sins, and agree to be baptized as a public sign that they are now Jesus-followers (Acts 2:37–47). That quickly, the church is born.
Chapter Context:
Acts 2 describes the creation of Jesus' church. Forty days after Jesus' resurrection He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9). One hundred and twenty disciples obeyed His command to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4, 2–15). In Acts 2, they receive the Holy Spirit and share the gospel with a crowd of people who have come to celebrate Pentecost. Three thousand believe, and the church comes to life. In the following chapters, Jesus-followers fulfill Jesus' promise that they will be His witnesses ''in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'' (Acts 1:8).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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