"...for you, for your children, and for all who are far away..."

After Peter preaches the first evangelistic sermon in church history (Acts 2:14-36), the people respond with fear that the newly reigning king of the universe, Jesus, will visit them with swift judgment for their participation in his arrest and execution.  His response is overwhelming grace: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you, for your children, and for everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." (emphasis added). 

When he says "repent" in light of his proof that Jesus is the King of all, he means "surrender."  When he says "be baptized in the name of Jesus," he means their surrender will be into the family of God - they come as slaves, and find themselves children.  

Peter says this promise is for “you, your children, and all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”  On the one hand, Peter is claiming that Jesus’ kingdom is expanding – his kingdom will spread to “the ends of the earth,” just as Jesus promised.  On the other hand, Peter is claiming that when these 3000 people lay hold of what is offered to them on this day, they are also laying hold of it for their children.  I want to be very clear here: a lot of faithful believers and intelligent readers of the Bible disagree with me on this, and I invite you to test it out for yourself, but I believe Peter’s words point toward infant baptism.  I won’t belabor the point, but just consider: If you found yourself living in a land that was overrun by an invading King, and you chose to surrender to his kingdom and obey his laws, would you say to your children: “wait until you’re ready to choose to submit to him”?  Or if you were adopted into a new family and then you had children, would you act as if your kids were not part of that family until they had chosen to be?  No, Peter says to these thousands, this promise is for you and for your children, who by virtue of being their children Peter groups into those whom “the Lord our God calls to himself.” 

When Peter says the promise is "for your children," he is claiming the symbol of circumcision for the New Covenant.  

The counter argument, which is strong, is also present in this passage.  Simply, for these 3000, and even in Peter's instructions, repentance precedes baptism.  

And that’s why this is an unresolved issue among biblically faithful Christians! What do you think? 

Rev. Mike Wright3 Comments