misused bible

The verse:

“Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

How it’s misused:

Salvation is made to be conditional: ‘God will forgive you provided you repent and get baptised.’

The Holy Spirit is treated like a commodity; something we can get by following the right formula.

What it’s really saying:

The ‘for’ in ‘for the forgiveness of your sins’ (Greek: eis) does not mean ‘in order to get’, as if the repentance and baptism will make forgiveness happen; rather it conveys the idea of, ‘because of,’ or, ‘in light of.’ So the call to repentance, and the physical act of baptism (a demonstration of repentance) is in view of the fact that forgiveness has already come. It’s because God has forgiven us in Christ that we repent.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is not so much an individual event that happens multiple times, as the global, New Covenant event of the Father pouring out the Holy Spirit upon His people – the event that was inaugurated at Pentecost and has be continuing ever since – we are living now in the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy. Peter here is speaking corporately to Jewish people who knew this promise, and was assuring them that this promised Holy Spirit has come. Notice that receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit here is not a result of their repentance as much as a simultaneous event. It is actually an assurance that they will be able to repent because the Gift of the Spirit has come, and it is He who enables them to respond to the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.

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