And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5, NKJV).
Devout men gathered in Jerusalem to observe the feast of weeks (Pentecost, Acts 2:1; Lev. 23:15-21). Yet, the apostle Peter indicted these devout Jews along with the house of Israel for crucifying the Messiah (Acts 2:36). Devout means to be cautious and circumspect, hence “pious,” religious. The gospel teaches Christians to be devout in faith and life (Eph. 5:15; James 1:26-27). Consider what the Scriptures say about being devout. (1) Being devout does not necessarily mean one is saved. These devout men were guilty of crucifying Jesus (Acts 2:23). Cornelius was devout yet lost without the gospel (Acts 10:2; 11:13-14). (2) Devout people are convicted of their sins when they hear the word of God. They were “cut to the heart,” pierced to the quick, when the word of God exposed their sin. (3) Devout people want to know what to do to be forgiven by God of their sins. Therefore, they said, “Men and brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2:37)? (4) Devout people gladly accept the gospel and obey it to be saved. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). (5) Devout Christians will continue to follow the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). Let us be careful to hear, accept, and obey the gospel, being devout in word and deed each day.
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. (Acts 10:1–2, NKJV)
People devoted to their families, jobs, and country are assets to any society. Those who respect God, pray, and are generous bring honor to themselves by blessing others. Cornelius, the centurion, was such a man. Just in his dealings with his fellow man, he had a good reputation among those who easily could be his adversaries (Acts 10:22). Many would say such people will surely go to heaven. Yet, for all his good traits, Cornelius was lost. His morality could not save him. His prayers did not save him. An angel appearing to him did not save him (Acts 10:3-4). The angel told him to send for Peter, who would tell him what he “must do” (Acts 10:6). Peter preached the gospel to him so he could be saved (Acts 11:14; 15:7-9). Peter told this moral, devout, prayerful, charitable person to “fear God and work righteousness” to be accepted (saved) by God (Acts 10:34-35). Peter commanded Cornelius “to be baptized in the name of the Lord” after hearing and believing the gospel (Acts 10:48). Good, moral people continue to need salvation from sin (Rom. 3:23). Their salvation is in Christ through His gospel, nothing else (Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:16; 6:17-18).
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. (Acts 2:5–6, NKJV)
Devout men and women need to be saved, too. At times we meet with resistance when calling religious people to hear and obey the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. The assumption is that, since a person is religiously devout (pious, God-fearing), he or she is in no need of hearing the word of God and examining themselves in light of it. It is notable that he apostles of Christ preached the first gospel sermons on Pentecost to Jews who were devoutly practiced their faith. Yet, they were sinners in need of salvation. They had consented to the murder of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The gospel convicted them of who Jesus is and of their sin against Him, and then told them what to do about it (Acts 2:22-38). Instead of relying on your religious piety to save you (it won’t), hear, believe and obey the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, like about three thousand devout souls did almost 2,000 years ago.