The Meaning of Acts 2:41 Explained

Acts 2:41

KJV: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

YLT: then those, indeed, who did gladly receive his word were baptized, and there were added on that day, as it were, three thousand souls,

Darby: Those then who had accepted his word were baptised; and there were added in that day about three thousand souls.

ASV: They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls.

What does Acts 2:41 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Peter had called on his audience to repent and to be baptized ( Acts 2:38). Luke recorded the response of the believers. This reference, too, is probably to water baptism.
More people may have become Christians on this one day than did so during the whole earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:12). Luke evidently meant that3 ,000 were added to the120 mentioned in Acts 1:15 since he was describing the visible relationships of the believers. [1]
Some interpreters believe that this verse does not describe what took place immediately following the conclusion of Peter"s sermon, however. Luke may have been summing up the results of Peter"s preaching as a new point of departure in his narrative. He often used the Greek word translated "then" (men) in Acts to do this. Furthermore "day" (hemera) can refer to a longer time as well as to one24-hour period. Here it could refer to the first period in the church"s life. [2]
The period between the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D70 was a transitional period. The tearing of the temple veil when Jesus died ( Matthew 27:51) symbolized the termination of the old Mosaic order and the beginning of a new order. The new order began when Jesus Christ died. However it took several decades for God"s people to make the transition in their thinking and practice. The Book of Acts documents many of those transitions.
"The transition was extensive. Ethnically, there was a transition from dealing primarily with Jews to dealing with both Jew and Gentile without distinction. There was also a transition in the people with whom God was dealing, from Israel to the church. Likewise, there was a transition in the principle on which God was dealing with men, from Law to grace. There was a transition from the offer to Israel of an earthly Davidic kingdom to the offer to all men of salvation based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There was a transition from the prospect of Messiah"s coming to the historical fact that the promised One had come. There was a transition from the promise that the Spirit would be given to the historical fact that the Spirit had come.
"Again, all these transitions were made positionally in the brief period of time from the death of Christ to the Day of Pentecost. Yet experientially these truths were understood and entered into only over a span of some four decades. The Book of Acts records the positional transition as well as the experiential transition in the development of the theocratic kingdom program." [3]
". . . the Book of the Acts is particularly valuable as giving to us the earliest models of several ordinances and institutions which have since become part of the life of the Christian Church. These first occasions should be studied as types and models of what all subsequent occasions should be.
"The first descent of the Spirit (chap2); the first Christian preaching (chap2); the first Christian Church (chap2); the first opposition to Christianity (chap4); the first persecution (chap4); the first prayer meeting (chap4); the first sin in the Church (chap5); the first Church problem (chap6); the first martyr (chap7); the first Church extension (chap8); the first personal dealing (chap8); the first Gentile Church (chap11); the first Church Council (chap11).
"The first missionary (chap13); the first missionary methods (chaps13 , 14); the first Church contention (chap15); the first Church in Europe (chap16); the first address to Christian ministers (chap20)." [4]
This list could be developed even further.
". . . what Acts aims to do is to give us a series of typical exploits and adventures of the great heroic figures of the early Church." [3]

Context Summary

Acts 2:37-47 - Pentecostal Days
There were no exceptions in Peter's great appeal for repentance. Every one of you! he declared. "But I drove the nails into His hands." Every one of you! he insists. "But I pierced His side." Every one! says the Apostle again. And from this motley crowd arose the primitive Church. Notice that those who had gone deep into sin are not required to serve a long novitiate between forgiveness and the gift of Pentecost. In Acts 2:38 the two are combined. Notice also Acts 2:39. Not only Jews, but far-off Gentiles-nay, as many as God shall call by His inward speech and grace, are welcome to receive the fullness of the Spirit. Have you received it?
The italics, unto them, in Acts 2:41 had better be unto Him. The adding was primarily to Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 8:5. From the teaching of the Apostles these new believers stepped up into fellowship with them, because, when we are joined to Christ, we become one with all who are his. They still met in the Temple, standing there as one vast host, and seeing a new significance in the ancient rites. Their homes and daily meals were also raised to a new level; and every day there were additions of those who had experienced Christ's saving power. [source]

Chapter Summary: Acts 2

1  The apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, and speaking various languages,
12  are admired by some, and derided by others;
14  whom Peter disproves;
37  he baptizes a great number who were converted;
41  who afterwards devoutly and charitably converse together;
43  the apostles working many miracles,
46  and God daily increasing his church

Greek Commentary for Acts 2:41

They then [οι μεν ουν]
A common phrase in Acts either without antithesis as in Acts 1:6; Acts 5:41; Acts 8:4, Acts 8:25; Acts 9:31; Acts 11:19; Acts 16:5; or with it as here, Acts 8:25; Acts 13:4; Acts 14:3; Acts 17:17; Acts 23:31; Acts 25:4. Ουν — Oun connects with what precedes as the result of Peter‘s sermon while μεν — men points forward to what is to follow. [source]
Were baptized [εβαπτιστησαν]
First aorist passive indicative, constative aorist. Note that only those who had already received the word and were converted were baptized. There were added (προσετετησαν — prosetethēsan). First aorist passive indicative of προστιτημι — prostithēmi old verb to add, to join to. Luke means that the 3,000 were added to the 120 already enlisted. It is not stated they were all baptized by Peter or the twelve or all on the same day, though that is the natural implication of the language. The numerous pools in Jerusalem afforded ample opportunity for such wholesale baptizing and Hackett notes that the habit of orientals would place no obstacle in the way of the use of the public reservoirs. Furneaux warns us that all the 3,000 may not have been genuine converts and that many of them were pilgrims at the passover who returned home. Souls Persons as in Acts 2:43. [source]
There were added [προσετετησαν]
First aorist passive indicative of προστιτημι — prostithēmi old verb to add, to join to. Luke means that the 3,000 were added to the 120 already enlisted. It is not stated they were all baptized by Peter or the twelve or all on the same day, though that is the natural implication of the language. The numerous pools in Jerusalem afforded ample opportunity for such wholesale baptizing and Hackett notes that the habit of orientals would place no obstacle in the way of the use of the public reservoirs. Furneaux warns us that all the 3,000 may not have been genuine converts and that many of them were pilgrims at the passover who returned home. [source]
Souls [πσυχαι]
Persons as in Acts 2:43. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Acts 2:41

Acts 2:47 Added [προσετιτει]
Imperfect active, kept on adding. If the Lord only always “added” those who join our churches. Note Acts 2:41 where same verb is used of the 3,000. To them (επι το αυτο — epi to auto). Literally, “together.” Why not leave it so? “To the church” (τηι εκκλησιαι — tēi ekklēsiāi) is not genuine. Codex Bezae has “in the church.” Those that were being saved Present passive participle. Probably for repetition like the imperfect προσετιτει — prosetithei Better translate it “those saved from time to time.” It was a continuous revival, day by day. Σωζω — Sōzō like σωτηρια — sōtēria is used for “save” in three senses (beginning, process, conclusion), but here repetition is clearly the point of the present tense. [source]
Acts 8:1 On that day [en ekeinēi tēi hēmerāi)]
On that definite day, that same day as in Acts 2:41. A great persecution (diōgmos megas). It was at first persecution from the Sadducees, but this attack on Stephen was from the Pharisees so that both parties are now united in a general persecution that deserves the adjective “great.” See Matthew 13:21 for the old word διωγμος — diōgmos from διωκω — diōkō to chase, hunt, pursue, persecute. Were all scattered abroad Second aorist passive indicative of διασπειρω — diaspeirō to scatter like grain, to disperse, old word, in the N.T. only in Acts 8:1, Acts 8:4; Acts 11:19. Except the apostles (πλην των αποστολων — plēn tōn apostolōn). Preposition πλην — plēn (adverb from πλεον — pleon more) with the ablative often in Luke. It remains a bit of a puzzle why the Pharisees spared the apostles. Was it due to the advice of Gamaliel in Acts 5:34-40 ? Or was it the courage of the apostles? Or was it a combination of both with the popularity of the apostles in addition? [source]
1 Timothy 1:15 Worthy of all acceptation [πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος]
The phrase only here and 1 Timothy 4:9. Ἁποδοχή Pastoolxx. Comp. Acts 2:41, ἀποδεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον receivedhis word. Πάσης all or every describes the reception of which the saying is worthy as complete and excluding all doubt. [source]
1 Peter 3:20 Waited [απεχεδεχετο]
Imperfect middle of the double compound απεκδεχομαι — apekdechomai late verb, probably first by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:7), though in the apocryphal Acta Pauli (iii) and other late writings cited by Nageli (p. 43). Perfective use of the two prepositions A hundred years apparently after the warning (Genesis 5:32; Genesis 6:3; Genesis 7:6) Noah was preparing the ark and Noah as a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) forewarned the people, who disregarded it.While the ark was a preparing (κατασκευαζω — kataskeuazomenēs kibōtou). Genitive absolute with present passive participle of κιβωτος — kataskeuazō old compound (Matthew 11:10), for εις ην — kibōtos (ark) see Matthew 24:38.Wherein “Into which” (the ark).That is (πσυχαι — tout' estin). Explanatory expression like our English idiom (Romans 10:6, etc.).Souls Persons of both sexes (living men) as in Acts 2:41; Acts 27:37, etc.Were saved (διασωζω — diesōthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of δι υδατος — diasōzō old compound, to bring safe through as in Acts 27:44.Through water “By means of water” as the intermediate agent, an apparent change in the use of dia in composition just before (local use) to the instrumental use here. They came through the water in the ark and so were saved by the water in spite of the flood around them. Peter lays stress (Hart) on the water rather than on the ark (Hebrews 11:7) for the sake of the following illustration. [source]
1 Peter 3:20 Wherein [τουτ εστιν]
“Into which” (the ark).That is (πσυχαι — tout' estin). Explanatory expression like our English idiom (Romans 10:6, etc.).Souls Persons of both sexes (living men) as in Acts 2:41; Acts 27:37, etc.Were saved (διασωζω — diesōthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of δι υδατος — diasōzō old compound, to bring safe through as in Acts 27:44.Through water “By means of water” as the intermediate agent, an apparent change in the use of dia in composition just before (local use) to the instrumental use here. They came through the water in the ark and so were saved by the water in spite of the flood around them. Peter lays stress (Hart) on the water rather than on the ark (Hebrews 11:7) for the sake of the following illustration. [source]
1 Peter 3:20 Souls [διεσωτησαν]
Persons of both sexes (living men) as in Acts 2:41; Acts 27:37, etc.Were saved (διασωζω — diesōthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of δι υδατος — diasōzō old compound, to bring safe through as in Acts 27:44.Through water “By means of water” as the intermediate agent, an apparent change in the use of dia in composition just before (local use) to the instrumental use here. They came through the water in the ark and so were saved by the water in spite of the flood around them. Peter lays stress (Hart) on the water rather than on the ark (Hebrews 11:7) for the sake of the following illustration. [source]

What do the individual words in Acts 2:41 mean?

Those indeed therefore having received the word of him were baptized and were added on the day that souls about three thousand
οἱ μὲν οὖν ἀποδεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ ἐβαπτίσθησαν καὶ προσετέθησαν ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ψυχαὶ ὡσεὶ τρισχίλιαι

οἱ  Those 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
μὲν  indeed 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: μέν  
Sense: truly, certainly, surely, indeed.
ἀποδεξάμενοι  having  received 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Middle, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀποδέχομαι  
Sense: to accept from, receive.
λόγον  word 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: λόγος  
Sense: of speech.
αὐτοῦ  of  him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
ἐβαπτίσθησαν  were  baptized 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 3rd Person Plural
Root: βαπτίζω  
Sense: to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk).
προσετέθησαν  were  added 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 3rd Person Plural
Root: προστίθημι  
Sense: to put to.
ἡμέρᾳ  day 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: ἡμέρα  
Sense: the day, used of the natural day, or the interval between sunrise and sunset, as distinguished from and contrasted with the night.
ἐκείνῃ  that 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: ἐκεῖνος  
Sense: he, she it, etc.
ψυχαὶ  souls 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: ψυχή  
Sense: breath.
ὡσεὶ  about 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ὡσεί  
Sense: as it were, (had been), as though, as, like as, like.
τρισχίλιαι  three  thousand 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: τρισχίλιοι  
Sense: three thousand.