While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.…
I. THE EFFECTS OF PETER'S PREACHING. It —
1. Converted Gentiles. Peter preached the gospel (vers. 34-43). And the gospel thus proclaimed is never in vain. Man's oratory may please the ear: it is the Word of God, applied by the Holy Spirit, which alone can convert the heart. God often works suddenly and unexpectedly. A thoughtless sinner enters a church, pays no attention; but all at once some word strikes his ear. It is an arrow from the Divine quiver. He quits the Church converted. It was thus with this congregation. "While Peter yet spake," intending, probably, to say much more, "the Holy Ghost fell" — just as while Ezekiel was prophesying the dry bones moved.
2. Astonished Jews (vers. 45, 46).
(1) The proof that Peter's preaching was owned of God, was the gift of the Holy Ghost. The converts spake with tongues, and thereby showed their qualifications and willingness to go as missionaries in foreign lands, and at once used their tongues to magnify God. And this is ever the effect. Whether the convert speaks in his own or foreign language, he will glorify God by telling others of Christ's pardoning love and redeeming grace.
(2) The astonishment of the six Jewish disciples who had come from Joppa with Peter arose from prejudice. It probably gave them some uneasiness, because that "upon the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." They conceived that these blessings belonged exclusively to their own nation. Had they understood their Scriptures, they would have known that this event had been long ago predicted. Beware, therefore, not only of prejudice, but also of ignorance of the Scriptures. How many are being carried away by all kinds of delusions from this neglect of the Word of God! Some are settling down in a dependence upon the outward ceremonies of religion, because forgetful that a man may have "the form of godliness" without its "power." Some are trying to combine the love of the world with the service of Christ, forgetful that "No man can serve two masters." Some are panic struck at the existence of infidelity, forgetful that "In the last days scoffers shall arise."
II. PETER'S ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT'S WORK (vers. 47, 48). This inquiry of Peter shows us —
1. How unsound are the views of the Society of Friends, who affirm that the baptism of water is unnecessary, if we have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We must never forget, however, that it is an ordinance of Christ. We admit that, like the thief upon the Cross, a believer may enter Paradise without baptism; still, our Lord's own words are — that "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." The same remarks apply to the other sacrament. Many approach those emblems with devout joy and gratitude and experience the richest blessing. But others turn their backs upon that precious ordinance, which was appointed by none other than our Lord Himself.
2. How erroneous are the views of those who hold that baptism is invariably accompanied by the gift of the Holy Ghost. These converts received the Holy Ghost first, and were baptized afterwards. It was with them as it was with Abraham. Abraham first believed and then was circumcised. And our Church says that before an adult is baptized he must have repentance and faith; both which are the fruits of the Spirit working in the soul. These we could not have as infants; bat we must have them now, otherwise our infant baptism is a delusion. How wrong, therefore, is it to speak of regeneration accompanying, by necessity, infant baptism! Jewish children, at eight days old, were admitted into covenant by circumcision; and we conclude that the children of Christian parents should be brought into the Christian covenant by the rite of baptism: but then, to dogmatise upon the effects of infant baptism is to dogmatise where the Word of God is totally silent.
3. How wrong they are who exalt baptism at the expense of preaching. Peter felt (as Paul) that his grand commission was not so much to baptize as to preach the gospel; for "he commanded them to be baptized."
III. THE ANXIETY OF THE CONVERTED SOUL FOR SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION (ver. 48). Peter, in another place, describes believers as "newborn babes," desiring "the sincere milk of the Word, that they might grow thereby." These converts gathered themselves together, as in the presence of God, to hear Peter preach; and after they had received saving instruction, by the blessing of the Holy Ghost, they were anxious to obtain further benefit from Peter's ministry. Learn that those of you who have received the Holy Ghost need the further ministry of the Word. It is a sure proof that there is spiritual good going forward when we perceive this thirst for larger acquaintance with the love and the work of the Saviour.
(C. Clayton, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.