Series: “The Gift of the Holy Spirit # 20

THE MYSTERY OF ACTS 3:19, 20 (3)

(3)  Three Purposes    

One Purpose in Acts 2:38. “What shall we do?” The audience in Acts 2:38 were pricked in their hearts and asked the apostles this question. Peter answered with three actions: (1) repent (unto), (2) be baptized (unto), and (3) receive (hold to) the gift of the Holy Spirit. The purpose named is only for the first two actions. “For [eis=unto, towards] the forgiveness of sins.” There is no stated purpose for the third required action; it is a solemn answer for what the audience is to do. They were instructed to take and hold “for themselves”i the Holy Spirit's gift.

Two Actions But Three Purposes in Acts 3:19. The substance of this “second recorded” sermon was the same as that recorded in Acts 2. However, there are only two actions named for the audience to do. The first action commanded is “repent”; this is the same as the first action listed in Acts 2:38.

Convert” is the second action command. It is a broader term of “a whole turning toward God”ii that could include obeying God in any respect. However, its aorist imperative lexical designation “calls for a specific, definite, decisive choice: 'Do this now, at once, once for all and in one quick action (in contrast to present imperative which commands a habitual action.'”iii We have it defined as a positive motion toward God beginning with baptism in “washing away of sins” (Acts 22:16). Its action would be accompanied by a commitment to the Law of God (Psalm 19). This corresponds with “the gift of the Holy Spirit” which the Pentecost 3000 received when being baptized (Acts 2:41).

The purposes listed in Acts 3:19 & 20's sermon support this conclusion.

Purpose clause #1. The call to repentanceturn” and the converting's “turning to God” is for its initial purpose clause, “so that your sins may be wiped awayiv. It is parallel in every way to Acts 2:38's for(eis) the remission of sins”, i.e., the same purpose for repenting and being baptized.

Purpose Clause #2. In addition to “blotting out”, there follows two conditional elements. Following the purpose of wiping away sins is That so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” In order that” (Greek, ὅπως ἂν) is a common indicator of purpose in Acts. The gift of the Holy Spirit” of Acts 2:38 did not use a conditional element; it was an action added to what the people were supposed to do. By using another purpose conjunction in 3:19 instead of an “and”, the construction emphasizes a sequence to the purpose of the forgiveness of sins.v Such a conjunction proves that “convert” includes more than Acts 2:38's “being baptized.”

Some would equate the Spirit's gift of Acts 2:38 with the “seasons of refreshment.” If this were true, then the required “converting”, an active verb, would include the action of receiving the gift since it is the last action mentioned. In other words, the “times of refreshing” would be the result of one's converting to God. So the “refreshing” would not be the gift of 2:38 but rather the purpose or result of embracing the gift, which is the Word of Peter. The Pentecost audience received the gift, the Word (2:41). Hence, “convert” would correspond to this being a joint action to their being baptized.

The conclusion of Acts 3 is found in the following chapter. “But many of them that heardG191 the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand(Acts 4:4, ASV). This second audience “heard the word and believed. This is equivalent and parallel to the first audience's response in Acts 2:41 since they all became one community. Two words in the treatment of the Word: (1) Heard it (an attentive and motivating hearing) (2) believed it. Acts 2:41 uses the word “received.”

The word “refreshing” occurs only once in the New Strong's definition is “a recovery of breath, that is, (figuratively) revival.” In this context, Peter says this revival, a new birth, comes like a cooling from the presence of the Lord. Again, Peter does not mention the Spirit to this audience. His message is Jesus sends “the cooling.” This assures us that whether the Bible uses the words Spirit or Jesus, it is the Godhead that blesses us (Colossians 2:9). We receive from the Godhead blessings and by metonomy they are the Godhead in us and we in them: Spirit in us, Jesus in us, the Father in us and vice versa (1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; James 4:5; 1 John 3:24; 4:13).

Purpose Clause #3. The third purpose clause begins in verse 19 but continues in verse 20, “and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you.”vii The sending of Jesus and the “times of refreshing” are joined by a “purpose” conjunction “and that, showing their mutual relationship. Just as repentance and converting leads to the erasing of sins and revival in one's being, so they will lead to the coming presence of Jesus in one's life.

This resulting coming of Jesus would be figurative since Peter points out that the person Jesus is staying in Heaven until the period of restoration of all things (verse 21). His reference to Jesus coming is surely the same as Jesus promised the apostles that He would be with themunto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20) while His commission to the world is being carried out. This is realized as long as His gospel is preached and disciples are made. Therefore, again we see the importance of the Word of God.

The one that's waiting for the Spirit to come into one's life can be assured that what they need is for Jesus to come. Jesus abides with and through His word. As He said, “It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, are are life” (John 6:63, ASV). Is Jesus and the Spirit in your heart?

- Gaylon West


Other articles in this series, The Gift of the Holy Spirit: >

i The newer Greek textbooks teach that there is no such thing as the lexical deponent but that the middle voice should be translated. Danny Zacharias points out that the recent Greek textbooks say that the middle deponent should be treated in its middle voice. Hence, if this be true then Acts 2:38 becomes “and you shall receive for yourself the gift of the Holy Spirit.” I believe the English “active” interpretation would still be valid . It was something they were to do “for themselves.” deponent-verbs-dont-exist. Other links:

ii Albert Barnes, commentary.

iii “Aorist imperative.”

iv (εἰς τὸ ἐξαλειφθῆναι ὑμῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας). ἐξαλείφωG1813 From G1537 and G218; to smear out, that is, obliterate (erase tears, figuratively pardon sin): - blot out, wipe away RWP: “with pros and the accusative to express purpose. “


vi Simon Kistemaker, Baker's New Testament Commentary.

vii καὶ ἀποστείλῃ τὸν προκεχειρισμένον ὑμῖν χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν.