What does Acts 2:41 mean?
ESV: So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
NIV: Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
NASB: So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
CSB: So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them.
NLT: Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day — about 3,000 in all.
KJV: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
NKJV: Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Verse Commentary:
In the course of a couple of hours, the infant church of Jerusalem has grown from 120 (Acts 1:15) to three thousand. Jesus promised His followers they would receive the Holy Spirit and be His witnesses, starting in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8). Long before, Jesus had told His disciples that the world was hungry for Him, if only there were people willing to teach (Matthew 9:37–38). He also told them they would do greater works than He—not in power but in scope (John 14:12). This is not the last great influx of believers. After this event, God will add "to their number day by day those who [are] being saved" (Acts 2:47). When Peter and John heal a beggar, five thousand men, besides women, will have come to follow Jesus (Acts 4:4). Eventually, even many of the priests will believe (Acts 6:7).

This verse brings up the question of when a new believer should be baptized. In the New Testament church, people are baptized immediately upon accepting Christ as their savior, in one special instance even before receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9–17). How much do new converts need to understand? While many of the Jews and people who lived around Judea know about Jesus and how He fulfilled Judaism, the Philippian jailer and his family don't, and Paul and Silas see to their baptism right away (Acts 16:30–33).

The early believers are baptized right upon their conversion, and then trained in the doctrines of the faith. Over the course of history, as more false teaching assaults the church, training has been shifted to before baptism. This is intended so people understand their faith before publicly committing to it. Once someone claims to be saved and has demonstrated they understand what salvation is and the purpose of baptism, there's no theological reason to wait. Baptism is not required for salvation. It should be performed as soon after conversion as reasonable. Bear in mind that a core group of 120 believers baptized three thousand converts. Neither the baptism nor the training needs to be a complex production.
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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