2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized 1 in the name of Jesus Christ 2 for 3 the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 4 2:39 For the promise 5 is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” 2:40 With many other words he testified 6 and exhorted them saying, “Save yourselves from this perverse 7 generation!”
1 tn The verb is a third person imperative, but the common translation “let each of you be baptized” obscures the imperative force in English, since it sounds more like a permissive (“each of you may be baptized”) to the average English reader.
2 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”
sn In the name of Jesus Christ. Baptism in Messiah Jesus’ name shows how much authority he possesses.
3 tn There is debate over the meaning of εἰς in the prepositional phrase εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν (eis afesin twn Jamartiwn Jumwn, “for/because of/with reference to the forgiveness of your sins”). Although a causal sense has been argued, it is difficult to maintain here. ExSyn 369-71 discusses at least four other ways of dealing with the passage: (1) The baptism referred to here is physical only, and εἰς has the meaning of “for” or “unto.” Such a view suggests that salvation is based on works – an idea that runs counter to the theology of Acts, namely: (a) repentance often precedes baptism (cf. Acts 3:19; 26:20), and (b) salvation is entirely a gift of God, not procured via water baptism (Acts 10:43 [cf. v. 47]; 13:38-39, 48; 15:11; 16:30-31; 20:21; 26:18); (2) The baptism referred to here is spiritual only. Although such a view fits well with the theology of Acts, it does not fit well with the obvious meaning of “baptism” in Acts – especially in this text (cf. 2:41); (3) The text should be repunctuated in light of the shift from second person plural to third person singular back to second person plural again. The idea then would be, “Repent for/with reference to your sins, and let each one of you be baptized…” Such a view is an acceptable way of handling εἰς, but its subtlety and awkwardness count against it; (4) Finally, it is possible that to a first-century Jewish audience (as well as to Peter), the idea of baptism might incorporate both the spiritual reality and the physical symbol. That Peter connects both closely in his thinking is clear from other passages such as Acts 10:47 and 11:15-16. If this interpretation is correct, then Acts 2:38 is saying very little about the specific theological relationship between the symbol and the reality, only that historically they were viewed together. One must look in other places for a theological analysis. For further discussion see R. N. Longenecker, “Acts,” EBC 9:283-85; B. Witherington, Acts, 154-55; F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, 129-30; BDAG 290 s.v. εἰς 4.f.
4 tn Here the genitive τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος (tou Jagiou pneumato") is a genitive of apposition; the gift consists of the Holy Spirit.
5 sn The promise refers to the promise of the Holy Spirit that Jesus received from the Father in 2:33 and which he now pours out on others. The promise consists of the Holy Spirit (see note in 2:33). Jesus is the active mediator of God’s blessing.
6 tn Or “warned.”