Acts 3:19. “Repent and be converted,” etc. Ordinarily conceived to be a command to unregenerate sinners to repent spiritually. There is, however, solid foundation for Dr. Gill’s opinion that no other Repentance and Conversion may be here meant than an external one, and that the blotting out of sin may intend the removal of the calamities that were impending over the Jewish nation, which would be averted by their repentance. Ex. 32:32, 1 Kings 8:33-39.
This is evident—
1. From the nature of the preceding discourse. It was addressed to certain men of Israel, who expressed wonder at the power with which the name of Jesus was invested, and to explain the fact at which they marveled.
2. This arose from the exaltation by God of Jesus, whom they had ignorantly delivered up to Pilate.
3. Since they had made so fatal a mistake in relation to Jesus, it was now incumbent on them to change their purpose, and admit His Messiahship, “Repent yet therefore.”
The sermons in Acts 2:14-36, and 3:12, 26, are by no means similar in scope and purpose. That was an address on individual salvation, chap. 2:21. This on the exaltation of Jesus, and nothing is said about personal salvation.
The two exhortations to Repentance of chap. 2:38, and 3:19, are likewise different. The former was addressed to sinners who were pricked in the heart. The latter to Jews, whom Peter addressed on the ground of their share in the murder of his Master, but who expressed no contrition of any kind.
The former was addressed to men as individuals: “Repent every one of you.” The latter is to the men of Israel as such, see verse 12.
For these considerations we submit that not spiritual, but national Repentance is here enjoined.
James Wells, however, was of opinion that persons who had been brought to concern about their lost estate by what is related in the previous verses, are here intended, and that the apostle, discerning that concern, directs them to spiritual Repentance.—“Surrey Tabernacle Pulpit,” vol. 6. No. 316. No proof of this view is given, but the author’s high authority demands consideration for it.
To substantiate it, what Dr. Gill alleges should be disproved, and it should also be shown in what way our personal Repentance as the redeemed of God stands connected with the coming of seasons of refreshing, and the Second Advent of Jesus (See page 246).