06 March, 2017

Acts 2:38-39—“Repent and be baptized every one of you … For the promise is unto you, and to your children …”

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2:38-39).

Appeal is made to this passage in support of the “well-meant offer.” The thought is that Peter is presenting the gospel as a conditional promise or as an offer of salvation, on the part of God, to all that hear.

On the other end of the spectrum, hyper-Calvinists see this entire passage, including the command to repent, as being addressed only to the regenerate [i.e. sensible sinners].


Q. 1. “To whom is the promise of salvation made in Acts 2:38-39? Is Peter preaching the ‘well-meant gospel offer’? (i.e. a general conditional promise, on the part of God, to all that hear) or something else?”

(a) Rev. Martyn McGeown:

Acts 2 records Peter’s Pentecost sermon, at the end of which, he declares, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v. 36). The effect of the sermon is conviction of sin for “they were pricked in their heart” (v. 37). This does not necessarily mean regeneration and certainly no preacher can know with certainty that a display of conviction of sin is genuine. Nevertheless, the frightened sinners cry out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (v. 37). Peter ministers the gospel to them.

... Peter commands all to repent and believe, but he promises salvation (“the gift of the Holy Ghost” and by implication “the remission of sins”) only to believers. The promise is not conditional. Peter does not say, “God promises to each of you and to each of your children, that, if you and they repent and believe, you and they shall be saved” ...

... The promise is unconditional, as Peter explains with that qualifying clause at the end of verse 39, “even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” That phrase qualifies or limits the “you,” the “children” and the “afar off.” Peter does not promise in the name of God salvation to everyone in his Jewish audience (“you”) or to all of their children (“your children”) or to all the Gentiles (“afar off”)—he promises salvation to the “called” (the effectually called) within those three groups.

(Source: “An Answer to Phil Johnson’s ‘Primer on Hyper-Calvinism’)

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