Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jesus came to give Israel repentance and remission, Acts 5:31

The next use of a repentance word in Acts occurs during the second trial of Peter “and the Apostles” before the Sanhedrin. At the conclusion of the first trial, Peter and John had been released, but warned—“commanded… not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” Acts 4: 18. Of course, the Apostles had disobeyed that command, and had continued to preach Jesus. The chief priests had ordered them arrested, and an angel had miraculously released them. Acts 5:17-23. They had then returned to the Temple to preach, and had been arrested again. Acts 15:24-26. After being arraigned before the high priest on the charge of not heeding the earlier warning, but instead continuing to preach Jesus, and filling Jerusalem with their teaching (Acts 15:27-28), the Apostles gave the following response:

29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed, hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance (metanoian) to Israel, and remission of sins. 32 We are His witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Acts 5:29-32 (WEB).

God exalted Jesus to his right hand to give “repentance” and “remission of sins” to Israel. If this were all Peter had said, it might be justified to read this in the sense many modern Christians seem to read it—i.e., God exalted Jesus to make the people feel sorry for their sins so that he could forgive (remit) them. But Peter didn’t stop with verses 30 and 31. He added verse 32, in which he declares that God has given the Holy Spirit, not to those who merely feel sorry for their sins, but to those who “obey” him. So, even in this context, in which the behavioral aspect of repentance isn’t directly in view, the whole context manages to connect the concepts of repentance and obedience.