Acts 2:14–36 . . .
“Peter’s Pentecostal Preaching”
We ended last week's study by evaluating the question that devout Jews had asked Peter and the other apostles after sensing the spiritual significance of all that they'd heard about Jesus in light of their messianic expectations. So, in v. 12 they wondered: “What does this mean?” Today, we'll see how Peter took his stand, along with the rest of the apostles, and gave them their explanation of Pentecost, its meaning, and its implications. The first thing Peter did was to answer the charge of some that they were drunk. As you'll see in this week's video (linked near the bottom of this page), he denies this charge, not on the basis that none of them ever touched wine, but on the fact that it was too early in the morning. It was, after all, "only nine in the morning!" or the “third hour of the day” (v. 15).
Joel Prophesies about the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit (2:14–21)
Peter didn't hesitate to tell his audience what Pentecost meant. He quickly turned their attention to the prophecy of Joel, specifically to his words recorded in Joel 2:28–32. Pentecost's phenomenon wasn't the result of alcohol “spirits” but of "The Spirit." Prophet Joel foretold of the time when the Spirit of God would be poured out on all mankind. In Old Testament times, that Spirit was poured out on those few people who had specific tasks to perform. In future times, however, the Spirit would be much more widely poured out, not only upon Jews but upon “all people” (v. 17).
Peter was thus claiming that what these Jews had witnessed was the outpouring of the Spirit that Joel had foretold. But there was much more to it. The question wasn't so much the source of this phenomenon, but the meaning of it. Peter advised them, but his account wasn't filled with good news only. In the context of Joel’s prophecy, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a sign that was to precede the coming “day of the Lord” (v. 20), which wasn't only the day when the kingdom of God would be established on the earth and God’s promised blessings would be poured out on His people, Israel. It was to begin with judgment.
Joel spoke of this judgment in his prophecy; it's very evident in that portion of Joel that Peter quoted. He spoke much more of "the judgment of God" than of "God's blessings." Israel must first be judged and purged of her sins; then blessings could come. The outpouring of the Spirit was said by Joel to be a warning that the time of judgment was at hand. Fortunately, the last verse cited by Peter was the promise of salvation, to all who called upon the Lord (v. 21). Before Peter told his audience about this salvation, he explained the specifics of the judgment that loomed large before them, from which they could be saved.
God Authenticates Jesus as Both Lord and Christ (vv. 22–36)
In vv. 22–24, Peter lays the charge against the people of Jerusalem, the people who stood before him. In effect, Jesus the Nazarene had presented himself to his people in Jerusalem, even as the prophets had foretold. Jesus had come, not only with the claim to be the Messiah, but it was God himself who testified to Jesus' identity and authority through the signs and wonders he performed through the Holy Spirit. In spite of this, Israel rejected Jesus as its Messiah; not “Israel” in a general sense but those who were listening to Peter had rejected Jesus' claim to be Messiah. They rejected the One whom God accredited. Worse yet, they nailed him to a cross. True, this was all within the sovereign plan and purpose of God, but they put him to death in an evil conspiracy that involved the Gentiles as well. God’s purposes weren't overthrown through all of that, for he supernaturally raised Jesus from the dead as he had planned.
It's difficult to overestimate the importance of Lord Jesus' resurrection. Peter first demonstrated the necessity of Christ’s resurrection, then he spelled out its implications. He told this audience that it was impossible for Jesus not to be raised. As proof, in vv. 25–28, Peter turned to Psalm 16, a psalm of David. In it, David reveled in the inheritance that God had prepared for him and promised to him. What's the basis of David’s confidence in those future blessings?
David’s answer seems to be this: He somehow knew that his Savior would die, but that fact wouldn't shake his faith because he also knew that death couldn't hold him back. Yes, his Savior would die, but he wouldn't remain dead, and his flesh would never deteriorate. Since David’s future rested on his Messiah, he felt that his future was secure, even after his own death, because God had made known to him the “path of life” (Psalm 16:11). One day, David will rise from the dead to enjoy the blessings that God had promised him because his Messiah will have risen from the dead with him.
When David spoke of resurrection in that psalm, Peter pointed out that David wasn't speaking of his own resurrection but of the Son’s resurrection. David’s tomb was still there then and it was occupied with David! However, Jesus the Nazarene's tomb was empty. David was speaking of Jesus in Psalm 16, and the empty tomb was proof of that. The Old Testament taught the necessity of the death of Messiah and of the Messiah's resurrection.
Having been raised from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, the Christ is now acclaimed "Lord." He's been given full power and authority, the right to reign. The delay in the establishment of the kingdom is based only upon when the Messiah's enemies are put down. To sum it up, God has made this Jesus “both LORD and Christ” (v. 36), meaning that Jesus isn't only the Messiah who was rejected and put to death, but he's the LORD who'll return to reign, once his enemies are put down.
And just who might those enemies be? The answer is quite clear in Peter’s message: It was those who'd rejected and crucified the Messiah. God had raised him from the dead, and he'll inevitably subdue all of Messiah’s enemies. God was soon to bring judgment upon this generation. Jesus had spoken of this while Joel foretold it. And Psalm 110 spoke of it as well, as Peter calls out in vv. 34–35.
No wonder Peter’s audience was cut to the heart (v. 37). They needed no prompting or persuasion to ask what it was that they must do to be saved and delivered from the wrath of God. The answer was short, but profound. They were required to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (i.e., Jesus the Christ, the anointed One, the Messiah). Doing so, their sins would be forgiven, they'd be saved from God’s wrath, they'd receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, namely the firstfruits of the kingdom to come.
The application for Peter’s audience was simple and straight-forward. The day of God’s judgment was near. The devout Jews had been guilty of rejecting Jesus of Nazareth, who with the testimony of God demonstrated that he was Israel’s Messiah. If they repented, they'd be saved from God’s coming wrath, and, better yet, they'd enter into the promised kingdom. But if they didn't, judgment was imminent.
It was simple for the Jews, yet there wasn't a more important decision or a more urgent matter at hand. In principle, the application for us today is identical. While God’s wrath was poured out on Jerusalem in 70 AD, there will come a day of judgment preceding the establishment of God's kingdom here on earth. We've also learned quite a lot about Jesus of Nazareth, the King who'll come to judge and then reign. He's also the One who bore the penalty for our sins. While we weren't in that crowd that called for his death, we've likely rejected him at least once in our life.
God's Word tells us in a number of locations that there will be a day of judgment for us, one way or the other. No matter when it occurs, we'll each be judged (Hebrews 9:27). In answer to the threat of eternal judgment is God’s generous offer of salvation to all who'll “call upon the name of the Lord.” By admitting our sin, and by trusting in Jesus of Nazareth to be God’s Messiah and our Savior, we'll be forgiven, . . . we'll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, . . . and we'll happily look forward to the coming kingdom of God and all of its blessings.
- Q. 1 What's the point Peter wants the people to understand about current events (vv. 15, 17–18)?
- Q. 2 As a hearty follower of Jesus, when are you most aware of the Holy Spirit?
- Q. 3 Can you accept Jesus as your Savior without accepting him as Lord?
- Q. 4 When did you make your initial commitment to Christ? Who was influential in that process? What convinced you of your need for Jesus?
New International Version (NIV) [View it in a different version by clicking here; also listen to chapter 2.]
† Watch this "Visual Bible" video clip: Acts 2:14–4:2, starring Bruce Marchiano as Jesus, James Brolin as Simon Peter, Harry O. Arnold as Saul/Paul, and Dean Jones as Luke.
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’
36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”