Acts 2:37

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

With Peter’s statement, which summed up his discourse that God had assuredly made Jesus both Lord and Christ, the response is quick and definitive. Luke records, “Now when they heard this.” The words are surely in reaction to everything Peter has said since verse 2:14. His discourse, influenced by the Holy Spirit, was perfectly suited to elicit what follows, which is that “they were cut to the heart.”

The word used, katanussó, is one not found elsewhere in Greek literature except in the Greek translation of Genesis 34:7. It is an intensified form of a word meaning “to pierce.” Thus, it is to pierce all the way down or all the way through. HELPS Word Studies then defines it as to be “emotionally stunned.” As it is the heart that is identified, it is as if a spear was thrust right through the heart so that there is a complete severing from the state of mind that existed only moments before. The idea can almost be felt in the use of the word from Genesis –

“And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came. Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, a thing which ought not to be done.” Genesis 34:5-7

The sons of Israel had one attitude and, suddenly, their entire state of mind had completely changed. This is the idea now. Those that heard Peter, and who took his words to heart, had gone from laughing and blaming what they heard on the effects of new wine, to a state of complete shock that they were responsible for the crucifixion of their Messiah. Thus, the response is that they were deeply stunned “and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles…”

The words are not without purpose. As has already been seen, in Israel, the testimony of “two or three” witnesses is necessary to establish a matter. There are twelve standing as a united force of agreement, demonstrating that Peter’s words are fully supported, and they are validated by the precept of the Law of Moses.

With such a large number of witnesses, backing up the words of Peter, and with the greater weight and evidence of the proper use of Scripture to come to a right conclusion concerning the words of prophecy, those who have heard have every reason to believe the discourse was true. They were all guilty of shedding innocent blood. But more, it was the innocent blood of God’s Messiah who was prophesied in Scripture.

Scripture itself pointed at them and essentially called out, “You have done exactly what was prophesied in advance.” As such, they called out to Peter and the others, “Men and brethren.”

It is the same expression seen in Acts 1:16 and Acts 2:29, andres adelphoi, “men, brothers.” In the middle of Peter’s speech, after citing Joel and before citing David, Peter had called them this. He was drawing them into the bond of brotherhood that Israel was called to demonstrate. His audience had not received the Spirit, but they were still brothers according to the flesh, and Peter had indicated as such as a way of influencing their thoughts as he spoke.

The words of Paul concerning Israel reflect this bond that exists between the people –

“For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Romans 9:3-5

The response of the people to Peter’s words indicates that they fully accepted his words and that they were in fact brothers to be hearkened to. They had gone from accusing the apostles of being drunk to seeking their very advice in how to correct the terrible predicament that they now found themselves in. As such, they called out, “what shall we do?”

They had the guilt of bloodshed resting upon them, but it was obvious that this could be expiated. Otherwise, what would be the point of the Christ rising again? If they had killed Him and He remained in the grave, there might be no remedy, but because He lived, there must be a greater purpose that they had missed. As such, their forgiveness must be a part of the plan that was set in motion by God, even from the fall of man.

Life application: It is often said that the Jews killed Jesus and thus they are no longer God’s people. But this flies in the face of the covenant-keeping nature of the Lord, and of future prophecy which clearly indicates that the guilt of Israel will be atoned for.

In Acts 2, the people are cut to the heart at hearing what they had done. Zechariah shows that someday this will be a state that permeates the entire nation. When they realize that they have borne the guilt of the blood of the Messiah for millennia, they will be cut to the heart, and they will mourn over what they have done –

“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.” Zechariah 12:10-14

The words of Zechariah 12 refer to the future and they will come to pass. Israel will have a national piercing of the heart, and they will finally come to realize what they had done. For each person today, Jew or Gentile, the most important question that we can ever answer is in relation to the gospel message. “What shall I do?”

When the gospel is presented, it can either be accepted or it can be rejected. The choice is up to each individual. Choose wisely. Choose life. Choose God’s offer of forgiveness found in Christ.

Lord God, thank You for the offer of peace that You have extended to us. Thank You for the gospel! What a blessed assurance we possess because of the forgiveness found in the shed blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.