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Acts 3:19

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Repent ye therefore - Now that ye are convinced that this was the Messiah, let your minds be changed, and your hearts become contrite for the sins you have committed.

And be converted - ΕπιϚρεψατε, Turn to God through this Christ, deeply deploring your transgressions, and believing on his name; that your sins may be blotted out, which are not only recorded against you, but for which you are condemned by the justice of God; and the punishment due to them must be executed upon you, unless prevented by your repentance, and turning to him whom ye have pierced. The blotting out of sins may refer to the ceremony of the waters of jealousy, where the curse that was written in the book was to be blotted out with the bitter water. See the note on Numbers 5:23. Their sins were written down against them, and cried aloud for punishment; for they themselves had said, His blood be upon us, and upon our children, Matthew 27:25; and unless they took refuge in this sacrificial blood, and got their sins blotted out by it, they could not be saved.

When the times of refreshing shall come - Dr. Lightfoot contends, and so ought all, that ὁπως αν ελθωσι καιροι αναψυξεως, should be translated, That the times of refreshing May come. Αναψυξις, signifies a breathing time, or respite, and may be here applied to the space that elapsed from this time till the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. This was a time of respite, which God gave them to repent of their sins, and be converted to himself. Taking the word in the sense of refreshment in general, it may mean the whole reign of the kingdom of grace, and the blessings which God gives here below to all genuine believers, peace, love, joy, and communion with himself. See on Acts 3:21; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Repent ye - See the notes on Matthew 3:2.

Therefore - Because of your sin in putting Jesus to death, and “because” he is the Messiah, and God through him is willing to show mercy to the chief of sinners.

And be converted - This expression conveys an idea not at all to be found in the original. It conveys the idea of “passivity,” be “converted,” as if they were to yield to some foreign influence I that they were now resisting. But the idea of being “passive” in this is not conveyed by the original word. The word means properly to “turn; to return to a path from which one has gone astray; and then to turn away from sins, or to forsake them.” It is a word used in a general sense to denote “the whole turning to God.” That the form of the word here ἐπιστρέψατε epistrepsatedoes not denote passivity may be clearly seen by referring to the following places where the same form of the word is used: Matthew 24:18; Mark 13:16; Luke 17:31; 1 Thessalonians 1:9. The expression, therefore, would have been more appropriately rendered “repent and turn, that your sins,” etc. “To be converted” cannot be a matter of obligation, but to “turn to God” is the duty of every sinner. The crimes of which he exhorted them to repent were those pertaining to the death of the Lord Jesus, as well as all the past sins of their lives. They were to turn from the course of wickedness in which they and the nation had been so long walking. That your sins, etc. In order that your sins may be forgiven. Sin cannot be pardoned before man repents of it. In the order of the work of grace, repentance must always precede pardon. Of course, no man can have evidence that his sin is pardoned until he repents. Compare Isaiah 1:16-20; Joel 2:13.

May be blotted out - May be forgiven, or pardoned. The expression “to blot out sins” occurs also in Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 51:1, Psalm 51:9; Jeremiah 18:23; Nehemiah 4:5; Isaiah 44:22. The expression “to blot out a name” is applied to expunging it from a “roll,” or “catalog,” or “list,” as of an army, etc. Exodus 32:32-33; Deuteronomy 9:14; Deuteronomy 25:19; Deuteronomy 29:29, etc. The expression to “blot out sins” is taken from the practice of creditors charging their debtors, and when the debt is paid, cancelling it, or wholly removing the record. The word used here properly refers to the practice of writing on tables covered with wax, and then by inverting the stylus, or instrument of writing, smoothing the wax again, and thus removing every trace of the record. This more entirely expresses the idea of pardoning than blotting does. It means wholly to remove the record, the charge, and every trace of the account against us. In this way God forgives sins.

When the times … - The word ὅπως hopōsrendered “when,” is commonly rendered that, and denotes the “final cause,” or the “reason” why a thing is done, Matthew 2:23; Matthew 5:16, Matthew 5:45, etc. By many it has been supposed to have this sense here, and to mean, “repent … in order that the times of refreshing may come,” etc. Thus, Kuinoel, Grotius, Lightfoot, the Syriac version, etc. If used in this sense, it means that their repentance and forgiveness would be the means of introducing peace and joy. Others have rendered it, in accordance with our translation, “when,” meaning that they might find peace in the day when Christ should return to judgment, which return would be to them a day of rest, though of terror to the wicked. Thus, Calvin, Beza, the Latin Vulgate, Schleusner, etc. The grammatical construction will admit of either, though the former is more in accordance with the usual use of the word.

The objection to the former is, that it is not easy to see how their repenting, etc., would be the means of introducing the times of refreshing. And this, also, corresponds very little with the design of Peter in this discourse. That was to encourage them to repentance; to adduce arguments why they should repent, and why they might hope in his mercy. To do this, it was needful only to assure them that they were living under the times graciously promised by God the times of refreshing, when pardon might be obtained. The main inquiry, therefore, is, What did Peter refer to by the times of refreshing, and by the restitution of all things? Did he refer to any particular manifestation to be made then, or to the influence of the gospel on the earth, or to the future state, when the Lord Jesus shall come to judgment? The idea which I suppose Peter intended to convey was this: “Repent, and be converted. You have been great sinners, and are in danger. Turn from your ways, that your sins may be forgiven.”

But then, what encouragement would there be for this? or why should it be done? Answer: “You are living under the times of the gospel, the reign of the Messiah, the times of refreshing. This happy, glorious period has been long anticipated, and is to continue to the close of the world. The period which will include the restitution of all things, and the return of Christ to judgment, has come, and is, therefore, the period when you may find mercy, and when you should seek it, to be prepared for his return.” In this sense the passage refers to the fact that this time, this dispensation, this economy, including all this, had come, and they were living under it, and might and should seek for mercy. It expresses, therefore, the common belief of the Yews that such a time would come, and the comment of Peter about its nature and continuance. The belief of the Jews was that such times would come.

Peter affirms that the belief of such a period was well founded a time when mercy may be obtained. That time has come. The doctrine that it would come was well founded, and has been fulfilled. This was a reason why they should repent, and hope in the mercy of God. Peter goes on, then, to state further characteristics of that period. It would include the restitution of all things, the return of Christ to judgment, etc. And all this was an additional consideration why they should repent, and turn from their sins, and seek for forgiveness. The meaning of the passage may therefore be thus summed up: “Repent, since it is a true doctrine that such times would come: they are clearly predicted; they were to be expected; and you are now living under them. In these times; in this dispensation, also, God shall send his Son again to judge the world, and all things shall be closed and settled forever. Since you live under this period, you may seek for mercy, and you should seek to avoid the vengeance due to the wicked, and to be admitted to heaven when the Lord Jesus shall return.”

Times of refreshing - The word rendered “refreshing,” ἀνάψυξις anapsuxismeans properly “breathing,” or “refreshment,” after being heated with labor, running, etc. It hence denotes “any kind of refreshment, as rest, or deliverance from evils of any kind.” It is used nowhere else in the New Testament, except that the verb is used in 2 Timothy 1:16, “Onesiphorus … oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain.” He administered comfort to me in my trials. It is used by the Septuagint in the Old Testament nine times: Exodus 8:15, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite”; that is, cessation or rest from the plagues, Hosea 12:8; Jeremiah 49:31; Psalm 69:11, etc. In no place in the Old Testament is the word applied to the terms of the gospel. The idea, however, that the times of the Messiah would be times of rest, ease, and prosperity, was a favorite one among the Jews, and was countenanced in the Old Testament. See Isaiah 28:12, “To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing,” etc. They anticipated the times of the gospel as a period when they would have rest from their enemies, a respite from the evils of oppression and war, and great national prosperity and peace. Under the idea that the happy times of the Messiah had come, Peter now addresses them, and assures them that they might obtain pardon and peace.

Shall come - This does not mean that this period was still future, for it had come; but that the expectation of the Jews that such a Messiah would come was well founded. A remarkably similar construction we have concerning Elijah Matthew 17:11, “And Jesus answered and said, Elias truly shall first come, and restore,” etc.; that is, the doctrine that Elijah would come was true, though he immediately adds that it had already taken place, Acts 3:12. See the notes on that place.

From the presence of the Lord - Greek: “From the face of the Lord.” The expression means that God was “its author.” From the face of the Lord means “from the Lord himself:” Mark 1:2, “I send thy messenger before thy face,” that is, before thee. Compare Malachi 3:1; Luke 1:76; Luke 2:31.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The absolute necessity of repentance is to be solemnly charged upon the consciences of all who desire that their sins may be blotted out, and that they may share in the refreshment which nothing but a sense of Christ's pardoning love can afford. Blessed are those who have felt this. It was not needful for the Holy Spirit to make known the times and seasons of these dispensations. These subjects are still left obscure. But when sinners are convinced of their sins, they will cry to the Lord for pardon; and to the penitent, converted, and believing, times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord. In a state of trial and probation, the glorified Redeemer will be out of sight, because we must live by faith in him.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 619

I was shown that if God's people make no efforts on their part, but wait for the refreshing to come upon them and remove their wrongs and correct their errors; if they depend upon that to cleanse them from filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and fit them to engage in the loud cry of the third angel, they will be found wanting. The refreshing or power of God comes only on those who have prepared themselves for it by doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 1T 619.1

I was shown that in some respects my husband's case is similar to that of those waiting for the refreshing. If he should wait for the power of God to come upon his body, to feel that he was made whole before he made efforts in accordance with his faith, saying, When the Lord heals me I will believe and do this or that, he might continue to wait and would realize no change, for the fulfillment of God's promise is only realized by those who believe and then work in accordance with their faith. I saw that he must believe God's word, that His promises are for him to claim, and they will never, no, never, fail. He should walk out by faith, relying upon the evidences that God has been pleased to give, and work, as much as possible, to the point of becoming a well man. Said the angel: “God will sustain him. His faith must be made perfect by works, for faith alone is dead. It must be sustained by works. A living faith is always manifested by works.” 1T 619.2

I saw that my husband would be inclined to shrink from making efforts in accordance with his faith. Fear and anxiety in regard to his own case have made him timid. He looks at appearances, at disagreeable feelings of the body. Said the angel: “Feeling is not faith. Faith is simply to take God at His word.” I saw that in the name and strength of God my husband must resist disease and, by the power of his will, rise above his poor feelings. He must assert his liberty, in the name and strength of Israel's God. He must cease thinking and talking about himself as much as possible. He should be cheerful and happy. 1T 620.1

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Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 23

How shall a man be just with God? How shall the sinner be made righteous? It is only through Christ that we can be brought into harmony with God, with holiness; but how are we to come to Christ? Many are asking the same question as did the multitude on the Day of Pentecost, when, convicted of sin, they cried out, “What shall we do?” The first word of Peter's answer was, “Repent.” Acts 2:37, 38. At another time, shortly after, he said, “Repent, ... and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts 3:19. SC 23.1

Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life. SC 23.2

There are many who fail to understand the true nature of repentance. Multitudes sorrow that they have sinned and even make an outward reformation because they fear that their wrongdoing will bring suffering upon themselves. But this is not repentance in the Bible sense. They lament the suffering rather than the sin. Such was the grief of Esau when he saw that the birthright was lost to him forever. Balaam, terrified by the angel standing in his pathway with drawn sword, acknowledged his guilt lest he should lose his life; but there was no genuine repentance for sin, no conversion of purpose, no abhorrence of evil. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, exclaimed, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” Matthew 27:4. SC 23.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 155

Pride and weakness of faith are depriving many of the rich blessings of God. There are many who, unless they humble their hearts before the Lord, will be surprised and disappointed when the cry is heard: “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.” Matthew 25:6. They have the theory of the truth, but they have no oil in their vessels with their lamps. Our faith at this time must not stop with an assent to, or belief in, the theory of the third angel's message. We must have the oil of the grace of Christ that will feed the lamp and cause the light of life to shine forth, showing the way to those who are in darkness. 9T 155.1

If we would escape having a sickly experience, we must begin in earnest without delay to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. There are many who give no decided evidence that they are true to their baptismal vows. Their zeal is chilled by formality, worldly ambition, pride, and love of self. Occasionally their feelings are stirred, but they do not fall on the Rock, Christ Jesus. They do not come to God with hearts that are broken in repentance and confession. Those who experience the work of true conversion in their hearts will reveal the fruits of the Spirit in their lives. Oh, that those who have so little spiritual life would realize that eternal life can be granted only to those who become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust! 9T 155.2

The power of Christ alone can work the transformation in heart and mind that all must experience who would partake with Him of the new life in the kingdom of heaven. “Except a man be born again,” the Saviour has said, “he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. The religion that comes from God is the only religion that can lead to God. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will lead to watchfulness. It will purify the heart and renew the mind, and give us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship. 9T 156.1

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 71

I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully. EW 71.1

I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of “refreshing” and the “latter rain” to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. Before this time the awfully solemn declaration has gone forth, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” I saw that none could share the “refreshing” unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence. EW 71.2

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Repent
be
that
when