Online Bible Commentary
Repent Therefore and Be Converted
Acts 3:17 Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.' 24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. 25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' 26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities." (NKJV)
Peter and John have just been used by God to heal a lame man. The lame man was healed by his faith in Jesus Christ. The three men then went to worship in the temple. The Jewish temple goers were amazed to see that the lame man was healed, and questioned John and Peter upon leaving the temple. The disciples credited Jesus with the healing, the same Jesus that the Jews had killed.
Now in this passage, Peter shows compassion for the Jews and rulers who killed Jesus by saying that they “did it in ignorance” (v. 17). Peter adds that the events the prophets have “foretold” about the suffering of Christ have now been “fulfilled” by God (v. 18).
The proper response for those who were guilty of the sin of killing Christ, and the proper response for all sin, was to “repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (v. 19a). This response would bring “times of refreshing…from the presence of the Lord” and would hasten the return of Jesus (vv. 19b-20). For God has spoken through His “prophets” since the creation that Jesus must remain in Heaven until such time as the “restoration of all things”, Christ’s future kingdom on earth (v. 20).
Peter then cites Scripture from the prophet Moses in Deut 18:15-19 (vv. 22-23). Moses is referring to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ (v. 22). “Every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people” (v. 23). The souls of those “who will not hear”, obey, “that Prophet”, Jesus, will be destroyed, through spending eternity in Hell.
Not only Moses, but “all the prophets…have also foretold these days” (v. 24). In speaking to the Jews, Peter, also a Jew, refers to them as “sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers” (v. 25a).
The covenant that God made with Abraham was “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (v. 25b). As promised God sent Jesus to the Jews, “first”, “to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities”, sin (v. 26). Later the blessing was sent to the Gentiles so that “all families of the earth shall be blessed.”
In this way, God provided forgiveness of sin to all the world, for those who will turn from their sin. They must “repent and be converted.” They must “hear”, obey, God. They must become Christians.
Thus Peter ties the Old Testament to the New. The Old Testament foretells of the coming of Jesus and the New Testament tells of His coming and the future. The message endures. It always has been, and always will be, the same, that salvation comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the only way for all the people of the world, Jew and non Jew, Gentiles, to receive the blessing of eternal life in Heaven. Repent therefore and be converted.