The Importance of Acts 2:38

Acts 2:38 is the first Altar call we find in the church age. The Jews responding to what Peter had preached, in the second chapter of Acts, asked, “What shall we do?” Peter replied:

“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.”

This scripture takes place after Jesus resurrects and ascends into heaven. It is a pivotal point in the Book of Acts, and the foundation of the Apostles’ doctrine found in that book. Acts 2:38 is a vital part to the Doctrine of Salvation. It is the same plan of Salvation Paul would go by years later in Acts 19.

“He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the LORD Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”

Acts 2:38 references the first baptisms that took place after Jesus ascended into heaven. It sets the foundation that baptism is to be done in Jesus Name. It also lets us know that believers should be filled with the Holy Ghost. Peter and the Apostles received the Holy Ghost in Acts 2:4. Acts chapters 10 & 11 let us know that the Gentiles had a similar experience to the Jews when they received the Holy Ghost; they both spoke in tongues.

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.”

“And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”

  • Acts 2:38 has listed a few steps for a true conversion experience:
    • A person must believe in Jesus Christ.
    • The first thing Peter tells the people is to repent. They must be sorry for their sin and willing to turn away from them.
    • Next, they are to be baptized in Jesus Name. All throughout the Book of Acts and the Epistles we find that Baptism was in Jesus Name by full immersion. This means that the person was completely submerged under water.
    • The person was to receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is the Promise of the Holy Ghost. We find through Biblical example that people speak in tongues when they first receive the Holy Ghost.

Please reference the Biblical story as a whole. Also refer to the following scriptures:

Acts 2:1-38; Acts 8:7-12; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:2-6; Romans 6:1-6; Galatians 3:27; Mark 16:16-17;

This short study does not cover every aspect of Acts 2:38.  It is intended to highlight the importance of this particular verse of scripture.

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