Acts 2:38 and similar passages

A proper understanding of Acts 2:38 and other similar passages

We should have a proper understanding of Acts 2:38 and other similar passages

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)

Taking Acts 2:38 and other related passages out of context and wrongly interpreting these verses, has given rise to many cults and false teachings such as “Baptismal salvation“, “Jesus only“, “Pentecostalism“, “Full Gospel“, etc.

Overview of the whole Bible

The Holy Bible contains God’s perfect and complete revelation of God to all mankind. But, have you noticed that a huge amount of God’s revelation to man – from Genesis Chapter 12 to the end of John’s Gospel – pertains exclusively to God’s dealings in and through Israel, the nation of the Jews? Even the Almighty God who stepped on the earth as a man, spent all His time only in Israel – why? What do you see in the previous few pages; the first eleven Chapters of Genesis? What do you see in the later portions of the Word of God from Acts to Revelation? You can have a correct answer to these questions only if you have a proper understanding of God’s dispensational dealings, which is briefly and clearly explained in our website: >> Bible Studies >> The Holy Bible – Ages & Dispensations; also see: Bible Studies >> Rightly dividing the word of truth >> Two Ages, Three Dispensations; and Messages >> Be filled with the Spirit

Old Testament

From the above study, we can understand that through Abraham’s grandson Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons, God created and appointed the nation of Israel as a channel through which He would exercise His authority over all the nations of the earth and also bless all the nations (Gen.12:1-3; 22:15-18; Isa.43:1, 7; Exo.19:5, 6; Rom.9:4, 5). But, due to unbelief, disobedience and idolatry they could not attain to this purpose. The message of all the prophets from Isaiah to Malachi was focused on this nation of Israel, calling them to repent and be restored to the original purpose for which they were created. This same message as proclaimed by Joel is quoted by Peter in Acts 2:15-21. If the people of Israel repent, the Holy Spirit would be poured out and signs and wonders will take place and Israel will be fully restored to their promised land and to the purpose for which they were created. But they rejected the message and also stoned, scourged, persecuted and killed the messengers (Matt.23:34, 35, Rev.17:6, 18:20, 24).


Later, the Lord Jesus and His disciples also appeared in the midst of this nation with the same message – repent and be restored to the kingdom – focused exclusively on the Jews. But, they took Jesus of Nazareth by their lawless hands and crucified and put Him to death, which God raised up (Acts 2:22-24).

The Book of Acts

Now, what do you see in the Book of Acts? During the days of the Acts, God set aside the Jews and started dealing with the Church. But if you carefully look at what God was doing in Acts, you will find that a final attempt was made to restore the Jews. To whichever place the apostles went, they first went to the Jews living in that place and tried their best to convince them that this Jesus whom they crucified was the Christ (Rom.1:16; 2:9, 10). They tried their best to persuade the Jews till these messengers were severely beaten and thrown out from their midst. The Jews were called to REPENT from the sins of disobedience, unbelief and idolatry and SUBMIT to their King, the Lord Jesus, by being baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 3:19-21; 4:8-10; 5:30, 31; etc) for the forgiveness of all these sins, which they had committed. If they had heeded to this call they would have been completely restored to the purpose for which they were created as a nation (Acts 3:19-21).

Acts Chapter 2

Now, look at the events of Acts Chapter 2, all which occurred on the day of Pentecost. Peter’s message was focused on the Jews. He started by saying, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem…”  (v.14) and then, “Men of Israel, hear these words…” (v.22), and also, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v.36). And finally in v.38, they all were called 1) to repent from the sins they had committed against God’s messengers, and 2) to submit to their King Jesus and 3) to be baptized in His name, 4) for the forgiveness of the sins they had committed against God’s messengers and against the Lord Jesus. If they heeded to this call, they would receive 5) a pouring of the Holy Spirit and 6) a display of signs, wonders and miracles, all of these related to the restoration of the nation of Israel to a position above all other nations. Though tens of thousands of Jews were present there on that day in Jerusalem, only about three thousand gladly accepted the offer, whereas the nation as a whole, not only refused to accept this offer, but also severely persecuted the messengers.

To the Jew first

The Israelites continued to reject the message and persecute the messengers throughout the time of the Book of Acts. In Acts Chapter 13: Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said to the Jews, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). Then in Acts Chapter 18, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:5, 6). And finally in Acts Chapter 28, Paul said to the leaders of the Jews, “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” And when he had said these words, the Jews departed  (Acts 28:28, 29) A beginning of the pouring of the Holy Spirit and related signs, wonders and miracles also took place throughout this period. These supernatural works were manifested in those days, not only among the few Jews who accepted the message, but also among the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy (Deut.32:21; Rom.10:19; 11:11, 14). That is, God was using those whom Israel considered Gentile dogs to manifest supernatural powers which naturally belonged to Israel in order to provoke the nation to jealousy.

After the time of the Acts

By the end of the time of Acts (about 62 AD) the Jews ceased to exist as a nation; their land was plundered and they all were scattered all over the world. From then onwards, the nation of the Jews were set aside and the Word of the Kingdom was given to the Church, which consisted mainly of Gentiles. And the pouring of the Holy Spirit and related signs, wonders and miracles also ceased. Prior to this time, the apostle Paul had the power to effect signs and miracles (Acts 19:6, 11, 12; 28:8, 9). After this time, Paul instructed Timothy, “…use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (1Tim.5:23) and he later left Trophimus …in Miletus sick (2Tim.4:20).

After the rapture of the Church

When God’s dealings with the Church are completed, the Church will be raptured and after that God will turn to the nation of the Jews and complete His dealing with them over a 7-year tribulation period. And in the last days, by the end of the 7-year tribulation period, the Jews will repent and cry unto their Messiah and the Lord Jesus will Himself appear before them and regather and restore them to their land and to a position above all other nations as foretold by all the prophets (Dan.9:24-27; Hosea 5:13-6:2; etc). In those days the pouring of the Holy Spirit and related signs, wonders and miracles also will take place.

Cults & False teachings based on Acts 2:38 and other similar passages

But during the present dispensation of the Church, the pouring of the Holy Spirit and related signs, wonders and miracles cannot exist. We can clearly understand that Acts 2:38 and other similar passages have nothing to do with the Church; but will come into force only after the rapture of the Church, when God completes His dealings with the Jews. Beware of all the cults and false teachings such as “Baptismal salvation”, “Jesus only”, “Pentecostalism”, “Full Gospel”, etc who have taken those things which do not belong to the Church and forcibly apply them as doctrines of the Church.