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Acts 02.22-36

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May 4, 2008 Sunday morning

First Baptist Church, Comanche

Series: Carrying the Light of Christ

Text: Acts 2:22-36

Children’s Sermon: “Who’s the boss?” Let’s play a game of Monopoly, and make up the rules as we go….

“Can You Handle the Truth?”

Introduction: You know the truth.  God declares that Jesus Christ is Lord!

1.    Preaching about the Spirit’s Coming [Acts 2:14-21]

2.    Explaining about the Spirit’s Coming [Acts 2:22-36]

A.     The Life of Christ

 

B.  The Death of Christ

 

C.  The Resurrection of Christ

      D.  The Exaltation of Christ

 

3.    Responding to the Spirit’s Coming [Acts 2:37-41]

Conclusion and Application: How will you respond to the truth?  Is Jesus Christ your Lord?

  • Salvation—is your life showing the life and love of God?
  • Submission—is your life reflecting who is boss?
  • Subjection—is your will becoming conformed to God’s Word and will?
  • Sanctification—is your life a fit and useful vessel through which God’s Holy Spirit can work and flow to others?


 


Amplified Bible - Acts 2:22-36

22 You men of Israel, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man accredited and pointed out and shown forth and commended and attested to you by God by the mighty works and [the power of performing] wonders and signs which God worked through Him [right] in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 This Jesus, when delivered up according to the definite and fixed purpose and settled plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and put out of the way [killing Him] by the hands of lawless and wicked men. 24 [But] God raised Him up, liberating Him from the pangs of death, seeing that it was not possible for Him to continue to be controlled or retained by it. 25 For David says in regard to Him, I saw the Lord constantly before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken or overthrown or cast down [from my secure and happy state]. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tongue exulted exceedingly; moreover, my flesh also will dwell in hope [will encamp, pitch its tent, and dwell in hope in anticipation of the resurrection]. 27 For You will not abandon my soul, leaving it helpless in Hades (the state of departed spirits), nor let Your Holy One know decay or see destruction [of the body after death]. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will enrapture me [diffusing my soul with joy] with and in Your presence. 29 Brethren, it is permitted me to tell you confidently and with freedom concerning the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being however a prophet, and knowing that God had sealed to him with an oath that He would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 He, foreseeing this, spoke [by foreknowledge] of the resurrection of the Christ (the Messiah) that He was not deserted [in death] and left in Hades (the state of departed spirits), nor did His body know decay or see destruction. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all we [His disciples] are witnesses. 33 Being therefore lifted high by and to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promised [blessing which is the] Holy Spirit, He has made this outpouring which you yourselves both see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens; yet he himself says, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand and share My throne 35 Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet. 36 Therefore let the whole house of Israel recognize beyond all doubt and acknowledge assuredly that God has made Him both Lord and Christ (the Messiah)—this Jesus Whom you crucified.


New American Standard Bible (1995 Update) - Acts 2:22-36

 

22 "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—
23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
24 "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
25 "For David says of Him, 'I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.
26 'THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE;
27 BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.
28 'YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.'
29 "Brethren , I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
30 "And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE,
31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.
32 "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
33 "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
34 "For it was not David who ascended into heaven , but he himself says: 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."'
36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ —this Jesus whom you crucified."

 

Psalms 110:1 (NASB95)
1 The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."

Romans 6:5-7 (NASB95)
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
7 for he who has died is freed from sin.


Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT) - Acts 2:22-36

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN PREACHING (Ac 2:14-41)

(i) There was kerugma (<G2782>). Kerugma (<G2782>) literally means a herald's announcement and is the plain statement of the facts of the Christian message, about which, as the early preachers saw it, there can be no argument or doubt.

(ii) There was didache (<G1322>). Didache (<G1322>) literally means teaching and elucidated the meaning of the facts which had been proclaimed.

(iii) There was paraklesis (<G3874>) which literally means exhortation. This kind of preaching urged upon men the duty of fitting their lives to match the kerugma (<G2782>) and the didache (<G1322>) which had been given.

(iv) There was homilia (<G3657>) which means the treatment of any subject or department of life in light of the Christian message.

Fully rounded preaching has something of all four elements. There is the plain proclamation of the facts of the Christian gospel; the explanation of the meaning and the relevance of these facts; the exhortation to fit life to them; and the treatment of all the activities of life in the light of the Christian message.

In Acts we shall meet mainly with kerugma (<G2782>) because Acts tells of the proclamation of the facts of the gospel to those who had never heard them before. This kerugma (<G2782>) follows a pattern which repeats itself over and over again all over the New Testament.

(i) There is the proof that Jesus and all that happened to him is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. In modern times less and less stress has been laid on the fulfillment of prophecy. We have come to see that the prophets were not nearly so much fore-tellers of events to come as forth-tellers of God's truth to men. But this stress of early preaching on prophecy conserved the great truth that history is not haphazard and that there is meaning to it. To believe in the possibility of prophecy is to believe that God is in control and that he is working out his purposes.

(ii) In Jesus the Messiah has come, the Messianic prophecies are fulfilled and the and the New Age has dawned. The early Church had a tremendous sense that Jesus was the hinge of all history; that with his coming, eternity had invaded time; and that, therefore, life and the world could never be the same again.

(iii) The kerugma (<G2782>) went on to state that Jesus had been born of the line of David, that he had taught, that he had worked miracles, that he had been crucified, that he had been raised from the dead and that he was now at the right hand of God. The early Church was sure that the Christian religion was based on the earthly life of Christ. But it was also certain that that earthly life and death were not the end and that after them came the resurrection. Jesus was not merely someone about whom they read or heard; he was someone whom they met and knew, a living presence.

(iv) The early preachers went on to insist that Jesus would return in glory to establish his kingdom upon earth. In other words, the early Church believed intensely in the Second Coming. This doctrine has to some extent passed out of modern preaching but it does conserve the truth that history is going somewhere and that some day there will be a consummation; and that a man is therefore in the way or on the way.

(v) The preaching finished with the statement that in Jesus alone was salvation, that he who believed on him would receive the Holy Spirit and that he who would not believe was destined for terrible things. That is to say, it finished with both a promise and a threat. It is exactly like that voice which Bunyan heard as if at his very shoulder demanding, "Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or wilt thou have thy sins and go to hell?"

If we read through Peter's sermon as a whole we will see how these five strands are woven into it.

Lord And Christ (Ac 2:22-36)

2:22-36 "Men of Israel, listen to these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved by God to you by deeds of power and wonders and signs, which God, among you, did through him, as you yourselves know this man, delivered up by the fore-ordained knowledge and counsel of God, you took and crucified by the hand of wicked men. But God raised him up and loosed the pains of death because it was impossible that he should be held subject by it. For David says in regard to him, 'Always I foresaw the Lord before me, because he is at my right hand so that I should not be shaken. Because of this my heart has rejoiced and my tongue has exulted, and, furthermore, my flesh shall dwell in hope, because thou wilt not leave my soul in the land of the dead nor wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life. Thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.' Brethren, I can speak to you freely about the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried and his memorial is amongst us to this day. Thus he was a prophet; and because he knew that God had sworn an oath to him, that one of his descendants should sit upon his throne. He spoke with foresight about the resurrection of the Christ, that he would neither be left in the world of the dead nor would his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up and all of us are his witnesses. So then when he had been exalted to the right hand of God he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured out this which you see and hear. For David did not ascend up into heaven. and yet he says, 'The Lord said to my Lord, sit upon my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool for thy feet.' So then let all the house of Israel certainly know that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified Lord and Christ."

 Here is a passage full of the essence of the thought of the early preachers.

(i) It insists that the Cross was no accident. It belonged to the eternal plan of God (Ac 2:23). Over and over again Acts states this same thing (compare Ac 3:18; Ac 4:28; Ac 13:29). The thought of Acts safeguards us from two serious errors in our thinking about the death of Jesus. (a) The Cross is not a kind of emergency measure flung out by God when everything else had failed. It is part of God's very life. (b) We must never think that anything Jesus did changed the attitude of God to men. It was by God Jesus was sent. We may put it this way--the Cross was a window in time allowing us to see the suffering love which is eternally in the heart of God.

(ii) Acts insists that this in no way lessens the crime of those who crucified Jesus. Every mention of the crucifixion in Acts is instinct with a feeling of shuddering horror at the crime it was (compare Ac 2:23; Ac 3:13; Ac 4:10; Ac 5:30). Apart from anything else, the crucifixion shows supremely how horrifyingly sin can behave.

(iii) Acts is out to prove that the sufferings and death of Christ were the fulfillment of prophecy. The earliest preachers had to do that. To the Jew the idea of a crucified Messiah was incredible. Their law said, "A hanged man is accursed by God" (Deut 21:23). To the orthodox Jew the Cross made it completely impossible that Jesus could be the Messiah. The early preachers answered, "If you would only read your scriptures rightly you would see that all was foretold."

(iv) Acts stresses the resurrection as the final proof that Jesus was indeed God's Chosen One. Acts has been called The Gospel of the Resurrection. To the early Church the resurrection was all-important. We must remember this--without the resurrection there would have been no Christian Church at all. When the disciples preached the centrality of the resurrection they were arguing from experience. After the Cross they were bewildered, broken men, with their dream gone and their lives shattered. It was the resurrection which changed all that and turned them from cowards into heroes. It is one of the tragedies of the Church that so often the preaching of the resurrection is confined to Easter time. Every Sunday is the Lord's Day and every Lord's Day should be kept as resurrection day. In the Eastern Church on Easter day, when two people meet, one says, "The Lord is risen"; and the other answers, "He is risen indeed!" A Christian should never forget that he lives and walks with a Risen Lord. [1]


Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament - Acts 2:22-36

His first proof was the person of Jesus Christ (vv. 22-24). Peter's audience knew that Jesus was a real Person from the town of Nazareth and that He had performed many signs and miracles. (On "Jesus of Nazareth," see Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14; 10:38; 22:8; 26:9; also 24:5.) It was clear that God's hand was on Him. They had heard Him speak and had watched His life. They had even seen Him raise the dead, yet they could find no fault in Him, and these things were not "done in a corner"! (Acts 26:26)

It was incredible that such a Man should be defeated by death. From one point of view, the crucifixion of Jesus was a terrible crime (Acts 2:23), but from another point of view it was a wonderful victory (Acts 2:24). The word translated "pains" means "birth pangs," suggesting that the tomb was a "womb" out of which Jesus was "born" in Resurrection glory (see Acts 13:33).

Peter's second proof was the prophecy of David (vv. 25-31). He quoted Psalm 16:8-11, verses that obviously could not apply to David who was already dead and buried. Being a prophet of God, David wrote about the Messiah, that His soul would not remain in hades (the realm of the dead) or His body in the grave where it would decay.

The third proof was the witness of the believers (v. 33). After His resurrection, Jesus did not appear to the world at large, but to His own followers whom He had commissioned to give witness to others that He was alive (Acts 1:3, 22). But were these people dependable witnesses? Can we trust them? We certainly can! Prior to Christ's resurrection, the disciples did not even believe that He would be raised from the dead; and they themselves had to be convinced (Mark 16:9-14; Acts 1:3). They had nothing to gain by preaching a lie, because their message aroused official opposition and even led to the imprisonment and death of some of the believers. A few fanatics might be willing to believe and promote a lie for a time, but when thousands believe a message, and when that message is backed up by miracles, you cannot easily dismiss it. These witnesses were trustworthy.

Peter's fourth proof of the resurrection of Christ was the presence of the Holy Spirit (vv. 33-35). Follow his logic. If the Holy Spirit is in the world, then God must have sent Him. Joel promised that one day the Spirit would come, and Jesus Himself had promised to send the gift of the Holy Spirit to His people (Luke 24:49; John 14:26; 15:26; Acts 1:4). But if Jesus is dead, He cannot send the Spirit; therefore, He must be alive. Furthermore, He could not send the Spirit unless He had returned to heaven to the Father (John 16:7); so, Jesus has ascended to heaven! To back up this statement, Peter quoted Psalm 110:1, a verse that certainly could not be applied to David (note Matt. 22:41-46).

Peter's conclusion was both a declaration and an accusation: Jesus is your Messiah, but you crucified Him! (see Acts 2:23) Peter did not present the cross as the place where the Sinless Substitute died for the world, but where Israel killed her own Messiah! They committed the greatest crime in history! Was there any hope? Yes, for Peter gave a third explanation that was good news to their hearts.

He explained why it happened: to save sinners (vv. 36-41). The Holy Spirit took Peter's message and used it to convict the hearts of the listeners. (In Acts 5:33 and 7:54, a different Greek word is used that suggests anger rather than conviction for sin.) After all, if they were guilty of crucifying their Messiah, what might God do to them! Note that they addressed their question to the other Apostles as well as to Peter, for all twelve were involved in the witness that day, and Peter was only first among equals.

Peter told them how to be saved: they had to repent of their sins and believe on Jesus Christ. They would give proof of the sincerity of their repentance and faith by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, thus identifying themselves publicly with their Messiah and Saviour. Only by repenting and believing on Christ could they receive the gift of the Spirit (Gal. 3:2, 14), and this promise was for both the Jews and the "far off" Gentiles (Eph. 2:13-19).

It is unfortunate that the translation of Acts 2:38 in the King James Version suggests that people must be baptized in order to be saved, because this is not what the Bible teaches. The Greek word eis (which is translated "for" in the phrase "for the remission of sins") can mean "on account of or "on the basis of." In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist baptized on the basis that people had repented. Acts 2:38 should not be used to teach salvation by baptism. If baptism is essential for salvation, it seems strange that Peter said nothing about baptism in his other sermons (Acts 3:12-26; 5:29-32; 10:34-43). In fact, the people in the home of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized! (Acts 10:44-48) Since believers are commanded to be baptized, it is important that we have a clean conscience by obeying (1 Peter 3:21), but we must not think that baptism is a part of salvation. If so, then nobody in Hebrews 11 was saved because none of them was ever baptized.

Acts 2:40 indicates that the Apostles continued to share the Word and to urge the people to trust Jesus Christ. They looked on the nation of Israel as a "crooked generation" that was under condemnation (Matt. 16:4; 17:17; Phil. 2:15). Actually, the nation would have about forty years before Rome would come and destroy the city and the temple and scatter the people. History was repeating itself. During the forty years in the wilderness, the new generation "saved itself from the older generation that rebelled against God. Now, God would give His people another forty years of grace; and on that day, 3,000 people repented, believed, and were saved.[2]


Bible Knowledge Commentary - Acts 2:22-36

2:22

2:22. Jesus’ miracles, Peter said, were God’s way of verifying Jesus’ claims to you, the Jews (cf. 1 Cor. 1:22; 14:22).

2:23

2:23. The point of this verse is clear: the Crucifixion was no accident. It was in God’s set purpose (boulē, “plan”) and was God’s determined will, not merely His inclination. It was a divine necessity (cf. 4:28). When Peter referred to you, he meant Jews; and by wicked men he perhaps meant Gentiles because the word “wicked” means lawless (anomōn). Both Gentiles and Jews were implicated in Christ’s death. Many times the apostles accused the Jews of crucifying Jesus (2:23, 36; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:28), though the apostles also held the Gentiles culpable (2:23; 4:27; cf. Luke 23:24-25).

2:24

2:24. The resurrection of the Lord is a basic doctrine in Acts (v. 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33-34, 37; 17:31; 26:23). Here is another indication that He is the Messiah for it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him (John 20:9).

2:25-35

2:25-35. These verses include four proofs of the Lord’s resurrection and Ascension: (a) The prophecy of Psalm 16:8-11 and the presence of David’s tomb (Acts 2:25-31), (b) the witnesses of the Resurrection (v. 32), (c) the supernatural events of Pentecost (v. 33), and (d) the Ascension of David’s greater Son (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34-35).

The word translated grave in verses 27 and 31 is hadēs, which means either the grave (as here) or the underworld of departed spirits.

Peter’s point is that since David, the patriarch and prophet was dead and buried, he could not have been referring to himself in Psalm 16:8-11; hence he was writing about the Christ (“Messiah”) and His resurrection. The oath (Acts 2:30) looks back to Psalm 132:11 (cf. 2 Sam. 7:15-16). God... raised... Jesus to life, and exalted Him (cf. Acts 3:13; Phil. 2:9) to the Father’s right hand (cf. Acts 5:30-31; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). Thus Jesus had the authority to send the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8; John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7), whose presence was evidenced by what they saw (“tongues of fire,” Acts 2:3) and heard (“a violent wind,” v. 2), and the apostles speaking in other languages (vv. 4, 6, 8, 11).

Just as David was not speaking of himself in Psalm 16:8-11, so in Psalm 110:1 he was not speaking of himself. David was not resurrected (Acts 2:29, 31) nor did he ascend to heaven (v. 34). The Lord is Yahweh God who spoke to my (David’s) Lord, who is Christ, God’s Son.

On five occasions in Acts some of the apostles said they were witnesses of the resurrected Christ (v. 32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39-41; 13:30-31). They knew whereof they spoke!

2:36

2:36. Here is the conclusion of Peter’s argument. The noun Lord, referring to Christ, probably is a reference to Yahweh. The same word kyrios is used of God in verses 21, 34, and 39 (cf. Phil. 2:9). This is a strong affirmation of Christ’s deity.[3]


Boice Expositional Commentary - Acts 2:22-36

The Sermon that Won Three Thousand Souls

Acts 2:14-41

From time to time I read accounts of revivals in which the Spirit of God worked in such strong ways that many hundreds of people responded to the gospel. Yet in all those accounts I have not read of any in which a sermon was so blessed by the Holy Spirit that three thousand people who before it were lost in sin and blinded in their ignorance, far from God and far from faith in Jesus Christ, turned from sin, responded to the gospel call, and entered the company of God's people within the church. Yet that is what happened at Pentecost as God blessed the first great sermon of the church age.

Sometimes we look at what happened and get very excited about the miracle of speaking in tongues—each one heard the preaching in his or her own language—and we want to duplicate that today. We want another miracle. Well, speaking in tongues at Pentecost certainly was a great miracle, and an exciting one, one Peter used in a powerful way as an introduction to the sermon he preached about Jesus. But it was not the essence of Pentecost. It was an important miracle. But the most important thing is that those who were filled by the Holy Spirit began to be Christ's witnesses, as he had told them they would be (see chapter 2 of this study).

Peter's Pentecost sermon is a model sermon. We would expect it to be since it was the first sermon of the Christian era, preached by the most prominent of the apostles, and resulted in great blessing. It is a sermon every preacher should study. Yet, more than that, it is a sermon all Christians should study because although in a formal sense most Christians do not preach sermons, all nevertheless have many opportunities—they must have them—to speak about Jesus Christ. So the principles that govern the formation of a great sermon must govern the informal witness of the people of God in other circumstances. This sermon was centered on the Bible, it centered on Christ, and it was fearless and reasonable.

Centered on the Bible

First, this is a great biblical sermon, which means that it is centered on the Bible. Peter did not have the New Testament before him when he preached at Pentecost, but he had the Old Testament. And not only did he have it, he knew it. I suggested, when we were studying the end of chapter 1, that Peter had spent the days immediately before Pentecost studying the important Old Testament texts bearing on Jesus' ministry. And probably the other Christians who were gathered together on Pentecost had done so too.

The Lord had started them on this track. He had explained the nature of his work by referring to these texts, saying that the disciples were foolish and slow of heart to believe because they did not see that what had happened to him had been the fulfillment of prophecies. We know that when Jesus met with the Emmaus disciples, he began with "Moses and all the Prophets" and explained to them in "all the Scriptures"—that is, in all three sections of the Old Testament—the things that concerned himself. Now suddenly, Pentecost came, and Peter, never a person to be shy or idle, seized the opportunity.

In our day a preacher will usually take one text and develop three (or at most four) points from it. So you have "three-point" or "four-point" sermons. This is because people's attention span is rather short today. In Spurgeon's day, one hundred or more years ago, four-point sermons were the norm. People used to talk about a great "four-pointer." If we go back to the time of the Puritans, we are astounded to find that they could go on to eight, nine, ten, twelve, or sometimes more points. And they were not just little items either. They were developed at length and over a long period of time. People knew how to listen then. They could think. So there was a time when there were sermons with many, many points.

When we turn to Peter's sermon we find that it is not as much a case of his having many points as of his having many texts. He does not just take one text and expound it, as most of today's preachers have been taught to do. He has three texts, and he expounds each of them.

Joel 2:28-32

Joel was written on the occasion of a disaster that had come upon Israel. There had been a locust invasion, and the plague had destroyed every green thing in the land. In a rural, agricultural economy this destruction was an extremely serious thing. It was a matter of life and death for most people. So Joel talks about it. But instead of saying, as some of us might say under those circumstances, "Well, every cloud has a silver lining. Things will get better. Don't worry about it," Joel actually says, "As a matter of fact, things are going to get worse; judgment by locusts is only a foretaste of a greater, final judgment to come."

In the middle of this very gloomy book Joel talks about a blessing that is to come in the latter days. He says that God is going to restore the years that the locusts have eaten. There is going to be a time when God blesses the people so that they will be satisfied. It is at this turn in the prophecy, as Joel begins to speak comforting words, that the verses that became Peter's first text on Pentecost occur. He quotes God as saying:

And afterward,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your old men will dream dreams,

your young men will see visions.

Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

Joel 2:28-29 (see Acts 2:17-18)

Peter referred to this text first because it was the clearest and most obvious Old Testament prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Then, with marvelous clarity and urgency, he linked it to what everyone in Jerusalem was noting: namely, the clear, powerful proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone in his or her own tongue. "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel," was Peter's contention. What was happening was what Joel prophesied.

Psalm 16:8-11

Peter then repeated his procedure, reviewing what everyone knew of the ministry of Jesus and explaining it on the basis of a second great text. Psalm 16:8-11 was important to the early Christian preachers; the apostle Paul also referred to this passage on at least one occasion (Acts 13:35). Although it was written by David and contains statements that apply quite literally to him, toward the end of the Psalm are words that could not apply to that great king of Israel: "You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay" (Ps. 16:10; see Acts 2:27).

This is about the decay of a body in a tomb, a decay that will not happen. But how could David say that about himself? David's body did see decay, and, as Peter points out, "His tomb is here to this day" (v. 29). Any person who doubted it could walk over to the tomb and dig up his bones. What was David talking about then when he said, "You will not... let your Holy One see decay"? Peter pointed out—as did the other early preachers—that David must have been speaking as a prophet, looking ahead to the Messiah, who, because he would be God and not a mere man like David, would not see decay. He would die, but his body would be preserved and would be raised incorruptible.

Psalm 110:1

Psalm 110:1 also was a popular text with the early gospel preachers. It is the verse of the Old Testament most quoted in the New Testament. It is quoted or referred to indirectly about twenty-five or thirty times. The Book of Hebrews alone refers to it at least three times directly and several other times indirectly.

The Lord says to my Lord:

"Sit at my right hand

until I make your enemies

a footstool for your feet."

Psalm 110:1

(see Acts 2:34-35)

It is easy to see why this verse was so important. In Hebrew the first word for "Lord" is "Jehovah." It refers to the one great God of Israel. The second word for "Lord" is "Adonai." It refers to an individual greater than the speaker. So here is a case of David citing a word of God in which God tells another person, who is greater than David, being David's Lord, to sit at his right hand until he makes his enemies a footstool for his feet. This other person could be no one other than a divine Messiah.

Jesus referred to this verse in Matthew 22, asking how David could refer to a mere human descendant of his as his Lord. If the Messiah were to be a mere human descendant of David, a mere human being, that form of address is improper. But the Messiah was to be no mere man. He was to be more than that. He was to be the God/man, the one the Father would exalt above every being in heaven and on earth, giving him a name that is above every name and allowing him to sit at his right hand until he should make all his enemies subservient. This text, as Peter rightly saw, refers to Jesus and to him only.

What is this sermon's emphasis? One way we can answer that question is to count the number of verses given to quotations of the Old Testament and put them against the number of verses that are exposition. If we do that, we have thirteen verses citing passages of the Old Testament, eleven verses of exposition, and two verses of application that come at the very end. So we have thirteen verses versus thirteen verses. In other words, the verses of citation and the verses of exposition are about evenly balanced, and perhaps the emphasis even falls on the citations.

I have been to seminary and have taken my share of homiletics courses. I have had people teach me how to preach. They have taught me many useful things. But nobody ever taught me, and as far as I know nobody has ever taught anybody else, that half of what a preacher says should be biblical quotations. There are perfectly good reasons for that lack of teaching. Quotation itself usually fails to draw listeners along. Besides, there is no sense quoting verses if those listening fail to understand them, which is especially likely in our biblically illiterate age. People today would not even know why one is quoting the verses. But the point made by the way Peter's sermon is passed on to us is that the very words of the Bible and the use of the Bible by God's Spirit are far more important in spiritual work than anything the preacher can say—even if he is an apostle. It is what God says, and what God does with his Word when it is proclaimed or expounded, that is important.

A Christ-Centered Sermon

Second, the sermon is Christ-centered. If the sermon is biblical and if the Bible is about Jesus Christ, then a biblical sermon is inevitably a Christ-centered sermon.

This was Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had come upon the disciples, and Peter had begun his sermon with a great Old Testament quotation dealing with the Holy Spirit. But at the very point at which we might have expected Peter to go on to teach what we would call "a doctrine of the Third Person of the Trinity," showing who the Holy Spirit is and how he operates, Peter actually shifts ground and instead speaks about the life and work of Jesus.

This is no accident. When the Lord Jesus Christ had been talking to his disciples in what we call "the final discourses," he told them that when the Holy Spirit came he would testify to him. In John 15:26 Jesus said, "When the Counselor [that is, the Holy Spirit] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." Similarly, in John 16:14 Jesus declared, "He [the Holy Spirit] will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you." The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples; Peter began to preach; and because the Holy Spirit was guiding, Peter inevitably preached about Jesus.

Sometimes people who are into "signs and wonders" say, "When you see signs and wonders—when there are healings or speaking in tongues—there the Holy Spirit is operating."

There is a tradition in the Reformed churches that says miracles ceased with the death of the apostles. According to this view, the miracles were given to authenticate the apostles as messengers from God. God did authenticate them. Their message is preserved in Scripture. Therefore, today we no longer need miracles and, in fact, cannot have them. As I say, I do not take that position. God can do anything he chooses. If he chooses to do something miraculous, well, so be it. I believe he does so from time to time. I rejoice in it.

But that is far different than using miracles as evidence that the Holy Spirit is active and present. Satan can counterfeit miracles. And whatever the case with miracles may be, the Bible teaches that we can know the Holy Spirit is present chiefly because those who profess Christ testify powerfully to him. I made that point in previous chapters.

Whenever you find men and women being pointed to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, however or wherever that may happen, there the Holy Spirit is at work. Do you seek miracles? That is the greatest of all miracles. It is a miracle of spiritual regeneration.

Peter preaches about Jesus beginning at verse 22, after he has cited the text about Pentecost, and continues to nearly the end. What is missing in these words, that we might have expected Peter as one who had accompanied Jesus through three years of active earthly ministry to have included, is Christ's teachings. We might have expected Peter to have said, "The Lord Jesus Christ taught this or that or this other thing." But Peter does not include the teachings.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are certainly important. That is why we have the Gospels; the teachings of Jesus are recorded for our benefit. But here Peter is preaching to men and women who were not believers in Jesus Christ—to men and women who apart from the work of the Holy Spirit were dead in their sins—and he knew that no one can preach successfully to spiritually dead people by saying, "Do what Jesus tells you." Some of these people likely had crucified Jesus because they did not like what he was teaching. So Peter does not tell them what Jesus said but instead declares what Jesus did for them. He preaches the cross and resurrection.

We need more of this preaching in our churches. Many churches are filled with well-meaning people who share what Jesus says and somehow expect those who are not born again to follow it. They cannot. Instead, we need to preach first that God sent Jesus to die for our sins and to call men and women to faith in him. We need to declare that those who trust him will find salvation from their sins and new life by the Holy Spirit.

Peter manages to squeeze in, in just these few verses, much doctrine concerning Christ's work:

  1. His ministry. This is described not as a ministry of teaching but as a ministry of miracles or signs, the point being that God accredited Jesus by them.
  2. The crucifixion. Peter emphasized that the crucifixion was by the express plan and foreknowledge of God; that is, it was no accident. He also said that those who were responsible for it were guilty of the sin.
  3. The burial. Peter contrasts Jesus' burial with David's burial, which was permanent. Jesus' burial was real but temporary.
  4. The resurrection. Peter deals with the resurrection at greatest length, quoting Psalm 16:8-11 and then expounding it in verses 29-32.
  5. His ascension. The ascension links the work of Christ to Pentecost, to what was the present. It is from his present position with the Father that Jesus "has poured out what you now see and hear" (v. 33).
  6. Christ's present ministry. Pentecost is proof that Jesus Christ is still working.

These points are the heart of all the apostolic preaching. A number of years ago a scholar in England by the name of C. H. Dodd wrote a book called The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments in which he pointed out that there is a certain core of "proclamation" facts that were almost always used by the early preachers. Dodd and others called this the kerygma, using the Greek term for "proclamation."

We find this kerygma throughout the New Testament. Here is one example. Paul, when he was writing to the church at Corinth, said:

What I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:3-6

Do you see what Paul is doing? He is doing here, many years after Pentecost, precisely what Peter did when he preached so powerfully on that earlier occasion. He is listing the basic gospel facts.

When I think about this, I cannot help but reflect on the sad state of so much Christian preaching and witnessing in our time. The problem with our preaching today is that it is so man-centered. Sometimes this is centered on the preacher. The minister will tell cute stories, often about himself or his children. Sometimes the preaching is centered on the hearers. It speaks to "felt needs." There is a certain sense in which that may be quite proper, of course. It is possible to reach people by speaking to their felt needs. But much preaching never gets beyond that. It is psychological or sociological in emphasis. It looks to the polls and asks, "What produces the maximum results? What best builds a big congregation?" That may succeed as the world measures success. You can build a big congregation by the same technique you use to build a big corporation or market hamburgers. But that is quite different from doing the work of God.

Fearless Preaching

Third, Peter's preaching was fearless. I say "fearless" because, after all, the sermon was being preached in Jerusalem, and it was in Jerusalem that the Lord Jesus Christ had been crucified. Peter was preaching to the very people who had called out, not many weeks before, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Moreover, Peter was preaching in the shadow of the temple, no doubt overlooked by the same religious leaders who had plotted to kill his Master at that time—and had succeeded, humanly speaking. Peter and the others had cause to be afraid. Yet they were not afraid. And the reason they were not afraid is that the risen Lord Jesus Christ was with them. The Jesus they served was not merely a man who had been crucified. He was also the Son of God who had been raised from the dead, had ascended into heaven, and was now seated at the right hand of the Father, directing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel.

These men expected results. They said, This is what the work of the Lord Jesus Christ has led up to. He has died for sin. Now it is our task to preach this gospel. They expected the Holy Spirit to bless their preaching, and the Holy Spirit did.

An Eminently Reasonable Address

Let me say, finally, that Peter's sermon was also sound, by which I mean that it was eminently reasonable. Sometimes preaching can be eloquent and moving so that an entire congregation can be swayed by the rhetoric. Yet it can also be unsound in its reasoning. This was not the case here. I am sure that Peter was an eloquent man. I am sure that on this occasion, as on other occasions, he preached with great fervor and that the people noted this fervor. I am sure also that the Holy Spirit blessed his fervor and eloquence and everything else. But when we read this sermon, we are impressed not so much with his eloquence as by the fact that he was calling the people to think reasonably. He was saying: You know about Jesus. You know what he did. You know the miracles that took place through his ministry and by his hands. That was God's way of authenticating him. How could he have done miracles if God had not been with him? You know how the leaders—your leaders—arranged his crucifixion. You saw how he was killed. God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of it. The resurrection is proof that God has accepted Christ and repudiated your repudiation. It is this Christ who has poured out the Holy Spirit, whose power you can see and witness now.

Then Peter went on to his conclusion, and that was reasonable as well: If this Jesus is the Christ, then you have killed your Messiah. What you should do now is repent of this great sin, believe on Jesus, and be baptized, and thus identify yourself with him.

That call was powerful because we are told as we come to the end of the sermon that Peter's hearers were cut to their heart and said to the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Three thousand believed and were baptized.

I long for a day when we will hear that cry in the church of Jesus Christ. I long for the day when preaching will be so biblical, so Christ-centered, so fearless, and so sound that men and women will cry out, "Oh, brothers, sisters, what must we do?" and when the answer is given, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven," there will be great repentance.[4]


Handfuls on Purpose - Acts 2:22-36

THE WITNESSING CHURCH

Acts 2:14-36

"This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses" (v. 32).

A quickened Church, or a quickened soul, will be certain to give Jesus the pre-eminence. Had not Christ said that "When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall glorify Me?" (John 16:13-14). The Church or the individual that is not glorifying Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Son of God cannot be filled with the Spirit. We are assured of this, that the Holy Ghost will not give His glory to another than Jesus Christ, in whose name He has come, and whose work He seeks to continue on earth. So when "Peter, filled with the Spirit, stood up with the eleven and lifted up his voice" it was to preach "Jesus and the Resurrection." Spirit-filled men have no other theme. We shall note, briefly, the outstanding features of Peter's Pentecostal testimony, and here he speaks as the mouthpiece of the whole Church. He testified—

1. To the Transformation of his Brethren. "These men are not drunken, as ye suppose" (v. 15). There was undoubtedly a very marked change in their behaviour. They were intoxicated sure enough, but not with the world's wine, as they supposed, for they were filled with the new wine of the Kingdom of God. But the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him (1 Cor. 2:14).

2. To the Fulfilment of Prophecy (vv. 16-21). At the marriage at Cana, the best wine—the gift of Christ—was kept to the last. So in "these last days" the best wine has been given in the coming of the Holy Ghost. Between this promise made to Joel and the fulfilment there lay twenty-four generations; but His faithfulness faileth not. The Spirit has been given, but "all flesh" have not yet been touched with the flame of this life-quickening fire. But surely this also will come to pass. Let us join the Lord's remembrancers, and pray for it. The testimony of a living Church must be to God's faithfulness to His Word.

3. To the Divine Approval of Jesus of Nazareth.— "A man approved of God" (v. 22). The works that Jesus did were the works that no other man could do (John 15:24). His "miracles, wonders, and signs" were incontestable evidence of His holiness and superhuman power, of His actual oneness with the invisible and almighty Father (John 14:10-11). This Man approved of God still waits His approval of men.

4. To the Guilt of Rejecting Christ. "Him. . . ye have taken, and by wicked (lawless) hands have crucified and slain" (v. 23). Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, knows no fear, and sees no contradiction between "the determinate counsel of God" and the terrible lawlessness of those who crucified His Son (Luke 22:22). After Pentecost, the first act of the Holy Spirit upon the ungodly was to convince of murder. What is sin? Sin is lawlessness, rebellion, usurpation.

5. To the Power of His Resurrection. "It was not possible that He should be holden of death" (v. 24). He who claimed to be "the Resurrection and the Life" proved His claim by rising from the dead (John 10,17). As it was not possible for the powers of death and hell to hold Him, neither is it possible for them to hold those who by faith are in Him (John 5:24-25; 2 Cor. 4:14). A witness to the power of His resurrection must have a resurrection experience (1 Peter 1:3).

6. To the Inspiration of David. David spoke concerning Christ, for he "foresaw the Lord always before his face" (v. 25, and Ps. 16:8.) As the One who, according to the promise of God, "He would raise up to sit on His throne" (v. 30). To deny the prophetic character of the Psalms of David is to reject the testimony of the Holy Ghost by whom Peter now was speaking (Luke 24:44). Those moved by the Holy Ghost are "holy men" and are never moved to declare things which are inconsistent.

7. To the Certainty of Christ's Exaltation. The coming of the Holy Spirit was not only the fulfilment of a promise, but also the guarantee that He who had been crucified was now "by the right hand of God exalted" (vv. 33-36), and made "both Lord and Christ." Although all authority has been given Him, He still waits with outstretched arms to give "gifts unto men" (John 1:12). When Christ's death, resurrection, and exaltation are firmly believed and emphatically preached signs and wonders will be done in His name.[5]


Holman New Testament Commentary - Acts 2:22-36

2:22-28. The Book of Acts contains twenty-three sermons or speeches, including seven by Peter and eleven by Paul. Verse 22 stands in the middle of Peter's first public sermon. Verses 14-16 constitute the introduction; verses 17-21 make up the text; verses 22-36 form the body; and verses 38-41 offer the conclusion/application.

2:22. During Jesus' time on earth his ministry was guaranteed by threefold evidence—miracles, wonders, and signs—precisely the marks of an apostle which Paul identified in 2 Corinthians 12:12. Interestingly, first-century Jews didn't deny Jesus' miracles; that seems to be a theological characteristic of more modern times. The key term of the verse is surely the word accredited, used often in first-century Greek for people holding some official office. Jesus' mighty acts pointed to divine power behind his life and ministry, thereby certifying that he was the Messiah.

2:23. Frequently the New Testament links predestination and free will, the two elements of a divine paradox. God handed over Jesus for crucifixion, but wicked men put him to death. So often people ask, "Does God choose us for salvation, or do we choose to believe the gospel?" Human reason searches for philosophical solutions, but the only biblical answer is a simple yes. Somehow in God's eternal plan these two seemingly parallel roads come together.

2:24-28. Peter's sermon progresses well; in typical New Testament form, he comes right to the point: resurrection. Verses 25-35 in this chapter contain four evidences of the resurrection: David's tomb, the witnesses, that very Day of Pentecost, and the ascension witnessed by the eleven disciples. God may have handed Jesus over for crucifixion, but he also raised him from the dead. As strange as it might seem to the human mind, Messiah's death was God's will.

Thus Peter turns to Psalm 16:8-11. Surely readers of the Old Testament up to this point had applied Psalm 16 only to David. Peter, speaking through the Holy Spirit, now certified it as a messianic prophecy. He did not use the psalm to prove the resurrection, but to affirm the messiahship of Jesus. Peter didn't bother to prove the resurrection at all—he just proclaimed it. God raised Jesus to experience joy in your presence.

2:29-30. Something new has been added. Not only was David's psalm a messianic prophecy, but the application of the psalm to Jesus is also linked with the fact that the Messiah came in David's line. David may have considered himself a shepherd and a king, but Peter tells us he was also a prophet, whether aware of it or not. We see here a major key to understanding Scripture, namely—Christ is the unifying link between Old and New Testaments. Luke had already concluded his first report to Theophilus on precisely this point: "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them 'This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things'" (Luke 24:45-48).

2:31-32. Not only did David understand Jesus' coming, he also foretold his resurrection. Standing in the crowd that day were many local residents who were familiar with the events that had transpired in Jerusalem less than two months earlier. Just in case their memories had lapsed, Peter raised again the broad banner of those courageous early Christians: we are all witnesses of the fact.

2:33-36. Peter wanted to proclaim the whole gospel, so he could not stop at the crucifixion and resurrection. In these verses he moves on to the exaltation and the coming of the Holy Spirit, bringing his listeners right up to the moment. Another quote from the Psalms (110:1) surely must have stabbed their collective attention. The humble carpenter of Nazareth was not only the Messiah, but now he lives in heaven and has caused all the Pentecostal commotion which evoked this sermon in the first place. Showing an enormous confidence in his God and his message, Peter used a phrase appearing only here in the New Testament (all Israel) and hammered home his final point: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. In fine homiletical style he returned to his original text (v. 21) and, along with the prophet Joel, extolled the messiahship of his Lord. The one you think dead is your living Lord, Master, and Messiah![6]


H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary - Acts 2:22-36

Peter's Sermon on Pentecost

Acts 2:22-36

I SUPPOSE this sermon, which the Apostle Peter preached in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost immediately after the coming of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter to indwell believers and to baptize them into one Body, is the most widely used sermon ever preached. We shall see in our next message some results of it, but it does not hurt us to anticipate, for we know from Scripture the results were 3,000 souls turned to the Lord.

What was the character of this sermon and what was there in it that so appealed to the people? Of course in trying to answer this we need to remember that the circumstances were most remarkable. The Lord Jesus Christ had fulfilled three and a half years of His wonderful ministry in the land of Israel. By His many miracles He had manifested His Messianic power and His character showed that He was the Son of God. A number believed on Him and a great many rejected Him and, by those who had rejected Him, He had been crucified. Three days later He rose again from the tomb, appeared to certain selected persons again and again for a period of forty days, and then ascended into heaven, after which the Spirit Himself came on the day of Pentecost as predicted and in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. There were gathered at Jerusalem a vast throng of people from all the different countries to which the Jews had been dispersed during the centuries. They had come to keep the feasts at Jerusalem, first the Passover and then Pentecost; and as they listened to this message it came home to their consciences with peculiar power.

Never again will there be such circumstances, and that is one reason we can never expect to see a duplicate of that power or even to see a single sermon used as that one was used; but as we consider the content of it, it will at least suggest to us the type of sermon that God can use to convert sinners. The first thing is simplicity. Not a word was uttered that day that a child of adolescent age could not have understood. Peter did not need someone to explain his words. His hearers did not need to go away to study a dictionary. I remember hearing a good preacher in Birmingham, Alabama, and it happened that the colored ministers had asked permission to sit in the balcony to hear the sermon and were graciously accorded this privilege. (It did not seem very gracious to me, but that is the way they look at it down there.) As these colored brethren were descending the stairs at the close one of them was asked: "Well, how did you enjoy the sermon today?" "Well," he said, "he sure did speak fine words; and I'm goin' home now to see if I can find out what they all meant." I thought, "What a pity! If only the preacher had clothed his message in such a manner that the simplest, the most illiterate could understand!" Peter used simplicity.

In the second place, Peter's sermon was centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. He held up Christ, crucified and risen, and that is the message God has promised to bless. He has sent His servants into the world to preach the gospel, the good news about His Son. Peter did not argue; he did not go into abstruse theological problems; he told them about the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. As he told of that, it went home to the hearts of his hearers with tremendously convicting power. I am afraid we forget it is the plain, simple story that reaches the people and brings them to the knowledge of salvation.

We sometimes sing,

"I love to tell the story

Of unseen things above;

Of Jesus and His glory,

Of Jesus and His love,"

and yet we spend so much time about other things and so little time on that wondrous story, I shouldn't be surprised if our hearers didn't feel like reminding us of that other hymn,

"Tell me the story often,

For I forget so soon,

The 'early dew' of morning

Has passed away at noon."

That is what the world needs! That is what men and women are crying for. And so we want to see how Peter presented it at Pentecost, and want to ask God to bless it as we present it here.

"Ye men of Israel, hear these words." You see, Christ came in the beginning not to the Gentiles but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and while the disciples were to go to the uttermost part of the earth, He distinctly said they must begin at Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was the most guilty city on the face of the earth at that time. Jerusalem had had the greatest privileges and yet it had crucified the Son of God. So this message was to the very people who had rejected Christ— the nation of Israel.

"Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." Jesus of Nazareth. That speaks of His humanity; it speaks of the lowliness of His character. He, who is over all, God blessed for ever, stooped to become a carpenter of Nazareth.

I listened the other night to that great Japanese evangelist, Kagawa. In speaking of many blessings the gospel brought to the Japanese, he said, among other things, "The gospel has taught the people of Japan, even those who have rejected its saving message, the dignity of the laboring man. Before the gospel came, the laboring man was looked down upon with absolute contempt, but when Christian missionaries came to tell the story of the Son of God who became a carpenter, who shed His blood upon the cross for our sins, it changed the whole conception of people toward the laboring class." That has been true all over the world. The laboring people were hardly more than slaves when Jesus came, and now there is practically no actual slavery left in any civilized land. Some are enslaved by laws cruel and ruthless, but the arrival of the gospel changes completely the attitude toward those who toil and labor. Jesus of Nazareth labored. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth who "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38).

Peter in the beginning does not rise any higher than that. He does not dwell on the Deity of Christ at first. He tells them, "Here was a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs." In other words, Peter is telling them this Man is the Messiah. God had put His seal upon Him. This was the One whom the prophets had proclaimed and of whom the psalmists had sung, and what have they done with Him? Let me ask you the question, What have you done with Him? You know why He came, why He died. What have you done with Him? Have you opened your heart to receive Him? Have you trusted Him as Saviour? If not, you are as guilty— yes, in some respects even more guilty— than they in those days. What did they do? "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."

Notice how two things come together here that often trouble thinkers among men. First, God's predetermined purpose and wicked man's free will. God had predetermined that His blessed Son was to come into the world and give His life a ransom for sinners. Jesus came "not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). But God had not predetermined that men should curse Him, spit upon Him and heap every kind of indignity upon Him. These things were of men's godlessness led on by Satan. Peter says, "God sent Him; God knew all that would take place; but you are responsible for your sins in that you laid hold of Him and with your wicked hands crucified and slew Him."

When man would do his worst, God gives His best. Man showed the malevolence and iniquity of his heart; he cried, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him," and then the ruthless soldiers nailed Him to that cross of shame. But when man had done all that, God said, "This, My beloved Son, is the great sin offering for the guilty. Even for the men rejecting Him now, for the men who crucified Him and put Him upon the cross, His soul was made the offering for sin." By His death redemption was procured, which God offers freely to all men everywhere. In answer to what man did, we see God acting in power.

"Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it." When sin had been atoned for and the sin question settled, it was righteousness on the part of God that demanded that His Son be brought back again from the dead; and so in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ we have the evidence of God's satisfaction with the work done. So the risen, crucified One is now set forth as the Saviour of all who put their trust in Him.

The Apostle Peter goes on to quote from three Psalms showing how the Old Testament Scripture had opened up to him. Before His ascension Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, "He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 16:15). And so now, guided by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, Peter turns to passage after passage in the book of Psalms and shows how all were being fulfilled in Christ. First he refers to Psalm 16.

"For David speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the Lord always before My face, for He is on My right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did My heart rejoice, and My tongue was glad; moreover also My flesh shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to Me the ways of life; Thou shalt make Me full of joy with Thy countenance." Now, these words, you say, are expressed by David in the first person. When he wrote that sixteenth Psalm one might have imagined perhaps those experiences were to be his own, but Peter shows it was the Spirit of Christ speaking through David, leading him to write as he did.

These things are not all true of David. David could not say, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer me to see corruption." David's soul was left in Hades and his body did see corruption. But Peter says, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day." But he was a prophet, and as a prophet was looking forward to Messiah's coming. Therefore knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that his son was to sit forever on his throne Peter declares that it was of Jesus God spake. "He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption."

It is very interesting to note how these Old Testament prophecies meet in the Lord Jesus Christ. Prophecies that never could have been fulfilled in anyone else were all fulfilled in Him. He walked in accordance with these beautiful words in Psalm 16. He could say, "I foresaw the Lord always before My face, for He is on My right hand, that I should not be moved." And as He moved forward to death, even as He hung upon the cross, He could say, "My flesh shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave My soul in Hades, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to Me the ways of life." The Apostle Peter was moving on to the resurrection, for the path of life lay through the grave and up to the Throne of God; and all this was spoken beforehand of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter says, "This Jesus hath God raised up. Therefore (He, the risen One) being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit." (Understand what Peter is saying. The Man Christ Jesus in His human body has gone up to heaven and has taken His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on High. He is now the Mediator. God has given to Him the Holy Ghost without measure that He might shed forth the Holy Spirit upon men here on earth.) "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." Would you need evidence stronger to show you that Peter truly understood the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ? Can you imagine a mere man shedding forth the Holy Spirit in this way? The Holy Spirit in Himself is a Person of the Godhead. Jesus, God the Son, was commissioned by God the Father to give God the Holy Spirit to those who believe on Him.

"For David is not ascended into the heavens." Oh, somebody says, then David's soul is sleeping in the grave. No; that is not what he means. David's body lies in the grave, David is not yet ascended into heaven in his physical body, but Christ Jesus has gone up into the heavens in His glorified body. David, looking on by faith, speaks again in Psalm 110, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool." Peter says, as it were, "My brethren, the Man who died on the cross was foreseen by David sitting at the right hand of God the Father, waiting for the moment when all creation will be subject to Him, when all His foes will be made His footstool." And this is his climax and upon this he bases his exhortation— an exhortation that I bring you today, those of you who may be out of Christ.

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know." Let us stop there and think of the goodness of God. The house of Israel had rejected Christ, and Jew and Gentile had united in the evil act of His crucifixion, yet so great is the love of God that He sent Israel this special message. They had been set aside as a nation. Jesus said some time before, "Your house is left unto you desolate!" (Matt. 23:38). They were set aside as a nation then; but God was yearning after them still and He speaks in love, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." And the word for Christ, you know, is simply the word for Messiah. "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Messiah." And you notice there is no pleading, no begging, no urging to take some stand, but the moment Peter comes to the conclusion, at once there is a move among the people and a great response; and that response, if it please God, will occupy us in our next address.

What is your response to it? God has exalted the Man who died on the cross to His own right hand, to be Prince and Saviour, and has made Him Lord and Messiah. Have you trusted Him and received Him? "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."[7]


Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible - Commentary - Acts 2:22-36

3. This is the day of God's Savior: Jesus of Nazareth (v.22-24)

3. (2:22-24) Jesus Christ, Death; Resurrection: this is the day of God's Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Peter drove the thrust of his message home. He shouted out: "Hear these words"...

·  the "last days" have been launched by Jesus of Nazareth.

a. His life: Approved by God

1.  "Jesus of Nazareth...approved of God." The word "approved" (apodedeigmenon PWS: 189) means to point out, display, show, attest, accredit, sanction, certify, endorse. God put His stamp of approval upon Jesus, demonstrating and showing to all men that Jesus is perfectly acceptable to Him. Jesus of Nazareth had God's approval, His perfect acceptance.

There is proof of this, the proof of His miracles and wonders and signs.

a.  They were the works of God, the kind of works that only God could do. God Himself was working through Jesus of Nazareth.

b.  The works were done (through Christ) "in the midst of you," in the very presence of people. They were not done in secret. God attested and demonstrated to the world that He was working through Christ. The miracles, wonders, and signs were done both for the sake of the world and before the world.

c.  "You yourselves also know" this. Man knows, for God has clearly shown that Jesus is approved by Him. The evidence abounds in the lives of those who have truly followed Christ down through the centuries, in the presence of the living Lord who has dwelt within their very being.

b. His death

2.  The death of Jesus of Nazareth was planned by God due to man's wickedness (see Deeper Study #2, Jesus Christ, Death—Acts 2:23 for discussion).

c. His resurrection: Ended the agony of death

3.  The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth ended the agony of death (see Deeper Study #4—Acts 2:24 for discussion).

DEEPER STUDY #2  (2:23) Jesus Christ, Death

DEEPER STUDY #3  (2:23) Foreknowledge— Predestination— Determinate Counsel— Jesus Christ, Death

DEEPER STUDY #4  (2:24) Jesus Christ, Resurrection

C. The First Sermon (Part II): Proofs of the Resurrection, 2:25-36

ACTS:  DIVISION II

THE BIRTH AND GROWTH OF THE CHURCH, 2:1-7:60

»Front Matter  »Book Intro

»Detailed Outline  »Index

C.  The First Sermon (Part II): Proofs of the Resurrection, 2:25-36

(2:25-36) notes notes Introduction: the first sermon ever preached after Pentecost was preached by Peter. He focused on the proofs of the resurrection.

1.  Proof 1: the prophecy of David—the prophecy concerned Jesus (v.25-28).

2.  Proof 2: Peter's testimony (v.29-31).

3.  Proof 3: the eye-witnesses—the disciples (v.32).

4.  Proof 4: the exaltation and the ascension of Jesus into heaven (v.33-36).

1. Proof 1: The prophecy of David--The prophecy concerned Jesus (v.25-28)

a. Jesus' daily life

1) He had God's constant presence

 1. (2:25-28) Jesus Christ, Work: proof 1—the prophecy of David concerned Jesus. Peter said that "David [spoke] concerning Christ" (Psalm 16:8-11). What David said was a prophecy of the Lord's experience upon earth (Acts 2:25-28).

1.  David's prophecy concerned Jesus' daily experience or life.

a.  Jesus experienced God's constant presence and power.

Þ  Jesus always saw God before His face. Jesus looked and kept His gaze upon God. He thought upon God, focused His mind and attention upon God. He concentrated and stayed His mind upon Him. The idea is that Jesus always practiced and was always conscious of God's presence—"captivating every thought" (cp. 2 Cor. 10:5).

Þ  Jesus always had God on His right hand, that He should not be moved. God was right there as an advocate and as a protector and defender. God was a provider looking after Christ, strengthening, guiding, upholding, seeing that He was not moved nor shaken. The picture is that of a defender in court or of a soldier on the battlefield standing at a person's right hand, protecting, looking after, and providing for his welfare. (Cp. Psalm 109:31 for this picture.)

"The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand" (Psalm 121:5; cp. Psalm 121:1-8).

"For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not: I will help thee" (Isaiah 41:13).

2) He rejoiced and praised God

b.  Jesus' heart rejoiced and His tongue praised God. Such a consciousness of God's presence was bound to cause...

·  the heart to rejoice (ēuphranthē PWS: 3227): to be joyful and full of euphoria, full of God's presence and glory.

·  the tongue to be glad (ēgalliasato PWS: 1696): to leap for joy and break forth with praise and song.

3) He rested in hope and trust

c.  Jesus' flesh rested in hope. The phrase "shall rest" (kataskēnōsei  PWS: 3278) means shall tabernacle or pitch a tent. Jesus' flesh rested, tabernacled, pitched its tent, encamped and made its abode upon hope—the hope of conquering death, of being resurrected. Hope of living forever was the basis and foundation of Jesus' life, that for which He lived. He focused His whole life and being upon the hope of the glorious resurrection (cp. Paul's testimony—Phil. 3:7-16, esp. Phil. 3:11).

b. Jesus' conviction: God's Deliverance

1) Not left in hell

2.  David's prophecy concerned Jesus' conviction that He could be delivered from death. Note several points.

a.  The word "leave" (egkataleipō  PWS: 2317). A soul can be utterly forsaken and abandoned, doomed permanently in hell. But Christ was absolutely sure that His soul would not be left and abandoned in hell.

b.  The word "hell" (hadēs PWS: 1923). (See Deeper Study #1—Acts 2:27 for discussion.) Christ said emphatically that His soul would not be left in hadēs PWS: 1923, that is, in the realm of the dead. He would arise and live forever.

2) Not see corruption

c.  The word "corruption" (diaphthoran PWS: 806). (See Deeper Study #1—Acts 2:27 for discussion.)

d.  The title Jesus used of Himself, "[God's] Holy One." Jesus was holy, righteous, and pure. He was without sin and totally devoted to God. He was perfectly acceptable to God. Therefore God was bound to raise Him, to keep His flesh from being destroyed and lying in corruption.

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21).

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).

"For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26).

"But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:19).

"Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Peter 2:22).

c. Jesus' revelation: The path of life--God's presence

3.  David's prophecy concerned Jesus' revelation, His revealing the way of life and God's presence. The Hebrew original reads "the path of life." This is a marvelous declaration, a declaration that reveals the most glorious truth. God revealed the path of life to Christ, and Christ reveals it to us. The path of life, the way to escape death is to live in the countenance and presence of God. God will never abandon a man, never allow a man to see corruption if that man lives and walks in His presence.

Jesus knew the path: it was God's presence. Note: He was full of the joy of God's presence. (So should we be.)

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

"Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:11).

DEEPER STUDY #1  (2:27) Hell (Greek, Hadēs; Hebrew, Sheol)

2. Proof 2: Peter's testimony (v.29-31)

2. (2:29-31) Jesus Christ, Resurrection: proof 2—Peter's testimony. Peter was forceful: the words of David could not refer to himself. David was dead and buried. It was even known where his grave was, on Mt. Zion where most of Israel's kings were buried.

But there is something significant about David. He was a prophet of God, and God had revealed to him that the Messiah would come through his line. The Messiah would be one of his descendants and sit upon his throne (Psalm 132:11; cp. Psalm 89:3-4, 35-37; 2 Samuel 7:16). Therefore, what David was doing was predicting the resurrection of Christ. The prophecy referred to Jesus and His resurrection.

Note: Peter's declaration of the prophecy. He gave the three reasons why God raised up Christ. These are the same reasons He will resurrect believers.

1.  Christ was raised to reign with God.

2.  Christ was raised to deliver His soul from hell (cp. Acts 2:27).

3.  Christ was raised to deliver His flesh from corruption (cp. Acts 2:27). (The believer's body is to be raised from the grave and made into a new body. See note—§ Matthew 22:31-32; Deeper Study #1—John 21:1; note—§ 1 Cor. 15:35-49; note—§ 1 Cor. 15:50-58 for discussion. Also see Resurrection—Subject Index for more discussion.)

3. Proof 3: The eye-witnesses--the disciples (v.32)

3. (2:32) Jesus Christ, Resurrection: proof 3—the eye-witnesses to the resurrection were the disciples. (See Deeper Study #1, Jesus Christ, Resurrection—Acts 1:3 for discussion.)

4. Proof 4: The exaltation and the ascension of Jesus into heaven (v.33-36)

a. Jesus was raised to be exalted

4. (2:33-36) Jesus Christ, Exaltation: proof 4—the exaltation and the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Note three points. (See note, Jesus Christ, Ascension—§Acts 1:9 for more discussion.)

1.  Jesus was raised to be exalted. His resurrection involved the exaltation.

Þ  To be raised is for the purpose of exaltation.

Þ  To be raised is being exalted to the very presence of God.

Þ  To be raised and given eternal life is a state of exaltation.

Þ  To be raised means to be exalted.

Note the words "the right hand of God." This is a position by the side of God, a place of honor, glory, authority, dominion, and rulership (cp. Acts 5:31). Christ has been raised to sit by the right hand of God in such a position.

And note: Christ, who is the obedient Son of God and the exalted Lord, has received what God had promised Him, the Holy Spirit. The exalted Christ has the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, to shed forth (execheen, pour forth) upon us all. This is what "you now see and hear," the glorious presence and energy of the Holy Spirit, of the very Spirit and presence of God Himself. (Cp. John 15:26; John 16:7.)

Thought 1. The believer's heart should shout "hallelujah, praise ye the Lord." Christ has sent the great promise and gift of the Spirit!

b. David prophesied the Lord's exaltation

2.  David prophesied the Lord's exaltation (cp. Psalm 110:1). David could not have been speaking of himself, for he never arose from the dead, nor has he ever been exalted. David was prophesying that God (Jehovah) had spoken to David's Lord (Messiah), promising that the Lord would sit on God's right hand. And the Lord would reign until God subjected all the Lord's foes. The picture of the footstool is that of complete triumph and victory over all the enemies of Christ, both human and spiritual.

c. Jesus was made both Lord and Messiah

3.  Peter declared emphatically: Jesus is both Lord and Messiah. "Let all...know assuredly" (asphalōs PWS: 223). The word is emphatic. It means without any doubt whatsoever, with perfect assurance and certainty. Know that...

·  Jesus is Lord (Acts 2:33).

·  Jesus is Messiah (see Deeper Study #2—Matthew 1:18).

·  Jesus whom ye crucified (see Deeper Study #2, Jesus Christ, Death—Acts 2:23 for discussion).

 DEEPER STUDY #2  (2:36) Lord (Greek, Kurion; Hebrew Adonai)[8]


Preaching the Word - Acts 2:22-36

4 Peter’s Greatest Sermon (Acts 2:14-37)

Acts 2:14-37

First sermons or new preaching situations are often memorable experiences. Spurgeon's Preacher's College had a tradition of giving students a text right on the spot and having them preach it to Mr. Spurgeon and the staff. On one particular day a student was given the subject of Zacchaeus. The student stood before them and said, "Zacchaeus was of little stature; so am I. Zacchaeus was up a tree; so am I. Zacchaeus came down; so will I." And he sat down. Smart man! He probably had a great career.

Peter's first sermon was probably his best. It is perhaps, aside from our Lord's sermons, the greatest ever preached. Greatest because of the place it occupies in the history of redemption (it is the inaugural sermon of the age of grace), greatest by its pure results (there were 3,000 converts), and greatest by virtue of its being a model for apostolic preaching.

That it was even a good sermon is amazing because just fifty days earlier, Peter had committed the greatest denial of Christ in history. You will recall that he had a position of primacy among the apostolic band. He was always first in everything — first on the water, first with his mouth, first with the sword. This led to his fleshly presumption: "Lord, though all the rest of these men leave you, I never will. You are looking at a real man! A straight-ahead, honest-to-goodness go-getter. I will lay down my life for you." His primacy and presumption prepared the way for his infamous plunge when in a vile, craven manner, with words he had not used in years, he denied his Lord.

Just fifty days later he was the inaugural spokesman for the inception of the age of grace. Somehow Peter's experiences had prepared him for exceptional use. The situation in Jerusalem at that time was not an inviting situation for this first sermon. Fifty days earlier the Jews had murdered Peter's leader by slow torture and had gotten away with it. Now a huge, excited crowd that must have greatly exceeded 3,000 was in a side-show mood, having come to see the strange apostolic phenomena. Sure, some were honestly inquiring, "What does this mean?" (Acts 2:12), but others said, "They have had too much wine" (Acts 2:13). It was not an easy situation, and yet Peter did his greatest preaching on that occasion. A preliminary glance reveals several reasons why.

It was great because it was simple. First, the apostle answered their question; second, he told them about Christ; third, he enlisted commitment. There was none of the stuffy obscurity that comes so easily to preachers. A. J. Gossip tells how he once heard the great Principal Rainy of New College, Edinburgh enthusiastically discussing a certain preacher's scholarly sermons, when one of his friends asked: "Will the simple people to whom he preaches follow him at all?" "Well," replied Rainy, "they will have the comfortable feeling that something very fine is going on." There was none of that with Peter's Pentecost sermon. It was absolutely clear and simple. The preacher must not assume intelligibility and simplicity — he must fight for it.

The sermon was great because it was Scriptural. Peter's message abounds with God's Word. Notice Acts 2:16 where he says, "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" and in the following verses quotes Joel 2:28-32; or later, Acts 2:25, where he says, "David said" and then quotes Psalm 16 and Psalm 110.

The sermon was great because it was Christ-centered. Look at Acts 2:22, "Jesus of Nazareth," Acts 2:23, "this man," Acts 2:32, "This Jesus," and Acts 2:36, "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

The sermon was great because it was convicting. "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'"(Acts 2:37).

The sermon was great because it was practical. It began by answering the question "What does this mean?" (Acts 2:12) and ended by answering the question "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).

The sermon was great because it was attention-getting and relevant. You would be amazed to know what a preacher can see from his pulpit! I had a couple in my last church who would go to sleep on the front row with their heads propped against one another and their mouths open. A preacher can see his people look at their watches. That does not bother me too much, but I know I am in trouble when people start shaking their watches. Peter got their attention and spoke to the point, saying in effect, "We are not drunk. We have not had anything to drink yet because on this Pentecost holiday we have not made our sacrifices. That is an hour away, and our main meal is two hours after that. We do not drink wine before a meal. How can you be so ridiculous?"

What specifically made this sermon great?

HE SIMPLY EXPLAINED WHAT HAD HAPPENED (V. 2:16-21)

Peter explained that what they were seeing was simply a fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures (Acts 2:16): "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel." That is, "Joel told us all about this." Then (in Acts 2:17-21) Peter quoted Joel 2:28-32, which describes the whole range of the age of grace (or of the Spirit), in which we live.

"'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. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.'" (Acts 2:17-18)

All this was present that day in various ways among the apostolic band. Peter's life explicitly manifested these things, as the following chapters in Acts so marvelously record. He prophesied and was caught up in dreams and visions.

There had been no provision for, and no promise of, an abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of any Old Testament saint. That is why King David prayed, "Do not . . . take your Holy Spirit from me" (Psalm 51:11). But the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost changed all that. In the Upper Room Jesus made these promises:

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17)

"But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)

With the coming of the Spirit came the Spirit's indwelling, baptizing, sealing, and filling. This was something new — something wonderful and dynamic! Joel's prophecy told of the dawn of this wonderful age. The sunset of the age is described in Acts 2:19-20:

"'I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.'"

This great age will end with the "day of the Lord" — a special manifestation of the Lord's power and glory and justice. These are marvelous thoughts, but an even greater fact is that during this age, as Joel so beautifully says (quoted in in Acts 2:21), "'And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" So Peter opened the great inaugural sermon of the new age of grace with the perfect quotation from the book of Joel. What a great way to begin!

It is in Peter's appropriation of Joel's prophecy that we see the ground of the greatness of this sermon: Peter was full of Scripture! Peter was not preaching with notes. He did not even know he was going to preach. There had been no conscious preparation. The point is, he knew Joel's messianic prophecy by heart.

Harry Ironside is a great example of a preacher full of God's Word. Under his mother's guidance Harry began to memorize Scripture when he was three. By age fourteen he had read through the Bible fourteen times, "once for each year." During the rest of his life he read the Bible through at least once a year. A pastor friend told me of a Bible conference at which he and Ironside were two of the speakers. During the conference the speakers discussed their approaches to personal devotions. Each man shared what he had read from the Word that morning. When it was Ironside's turn, he hesitated, then said, "I read the book of Isaiah." He was saturated with the Word of God.

I can say with reservation that in the matter of scholarship and preaching, knowledge of the English Bible is of far greater importance than knowing Greek or Hebrew or mastering dogmatics. Karl Barth put it this way, imitating a Biblical warning: "If thou art a learned man, take care lest with all thy erudite reading (which is not reading God's Word) thou forgettest perchance to read God's Word." If we are truly feeding on the Scriptures, the Spirit will be pleased to use us to communicate his truth.

Not only was Peter full of the Word, but he was full of the Spirit. The very Scripture that Peter quoted is a description of his state. The Upper-Room promise of the coming of allos parakletos, literally "another Helper" — one just like Jesus — had been dramatically fulfilled in Peter's life. Being full of the Spirit, it was just as if Christ were speaking in person. That is why the sermon was so great.

In applying this to our own lives, we must realize that there is an intimate connection being being filled with the Spirit and being filled with the Word. Ephes. 5:18-19 says,

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.

Col. 3:16 adds:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

As we fill ourselves with God's Word and yield to it, we make ourselves available for the filling of the Spirit.

PETER EXPLAINED ABOUT JESUS (V. 2:22-37)

Peter naturally moved from explaining what had happened to an explanation about Jesus. In Acts 2:22 we have the Incarnation: "Jesus of Nazareth was a man . . ." In Acts 2:23 we have the Crucifixion: "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." Then in Acts 2:24 we have the Resurrection: "But 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." Peter supported his argument for the Resurrection by quoting two mysterious Psalms that could only be fulfilled by Christ.

The first, Psalm 16:8-11, could not have been fulfilled by David because it speaks of someone whom the grave could not hold and who did not undergo decay. David's body remained in its grave and deteriorated. Peter explained this in Acts 2:29-33:

"Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted 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."

The second is Psalm 110:1, quoted in Acts 2:34-35 of our text: "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."'" Peter's argument was that this cannot be applied to David because he did not ascend to Heaven; therefore, it must apply to the resurrected Messiah.

Peter said, rightly, that these mysterious Psalms can be understood only if we believe in Christ's resurrection and ascension.

Peter's preaching was full of Christ — his incarnation, his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his ascension. That is why the sermon was so great! He concluded in Acts 2:36: "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Jesus could scarcely be lifted higher by human words. He is called "Lord," a title that would have particular appeal and meaning to Gentile ears. And he is called "Messiah," which meant so much to Jewish ears. "God has made this Jesus . . . both Lord and Christ."

Why was Peter's first sermon so great? Both Peter and his sermon were full of Christ, full of Scripture, and full of the Holy Spirit.

Just fifty days earlier, Peter had been full of presumption and pride, and on that fateful Passover night he fell in the most wretched spiritual plunge in history. The result was a profound emptiness, as profound as any man has ever known. That had necessitated a pre-Pentecost restoration of Peter on the shores of Galilee when the Lord asked Peter three times to declare his love. His emptiness made way for Pentecost and as profound a fullness as anyone has ever known! And Peter's overflowing fullness led him to tell Israel the truth about their spiritual bankruptcy. The crowd cried in desperation, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Their emptiness made way for their fullness as 3,000 believed in Christ and were saved. For them the sermon was truly great, because it led them to a supreme Savior.

It would be wonderful to hear a great sermon like Peter's, but it is even better to hear a sermon that is great because of what it does to us. It is entirely possible to hear good teaching or preaching for years and never personally hear it in the great way the 3,000 did. Charles Swindoll tells of a wedding where one of the wives of a leader of his church came to him and said, "My husband and I have been down at the beach for the past week, and my husband has walked the beach for hours and hours in the greatest agony. After several days he finally came in and threw himself down on the couch and wept for three hours. Then he asked Christ into his heart." That is a shocking story — one of the leaders in the church becoming converted to Christ!

In a sense, only the 3,000 that day heard Peter's great sermon. There are professing Christians who need Christ. They've heard, but they haven't heard. It is possible to be a respectable, well-taught, moral sinner. That is why the Lord said, in the Parable of the Tares, not to pull the tares out of the wheat field, because the roots are tangled together and we will pull out the wheat too. We cannot tell the difference.

It is possible to have everyone fooled and yet to know nothing of what the 3,000 heard. If you know no emptiness, you will not know the fullness of Christ in your life. If you have never come to the end of yourself and become "poor in spirit," you have never been truly open to the fullness of Christ and the true knowledge of him. Do we hear Peter's sermon? If not, the God of grace invites us to come honestly before him who sees all and to allow him to speak to us.

PRAYER

Our Father, we thank you for the work of the Holy Spirit. You have said that when the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world of sin. We pray, Lord, for those who may have it all together on the outside and yet not know you, that you would bring them to the place of the 3,000, those who had ears to hear. In Jesus' name, Amen.[9]


Acts 2:22

Hear these words (ἀκουσατε τους λογους τουτους [akousate tous logous toutous]). Do it now (aorist tense). With unerring aim Peter has found the solution for the phenomena. He has found the key to God’s work on this day in his words through Joel. as ye yourselves know (καθως αὐτοι οἰδατε [kathōs autoi oidate]). Note αὐτοι [autoi] for emphasis. Peter calls the audience to witness that his statements are true concerning “Jesus the Nazarene.” He wrought his miracles by the power of God in the midst of these very people here present.

Acts 2:23

Him (τουτον [touton]). “This one,” resumptive and emphatic object of “did crucify and slay.” Being delivered up (ἐκδοτον [ekdoton]). Verbal adjective from ἐκδιδωμι [ekdidōmi], to give out or over. Old word, but here only in the N.T. Delivered up by Judas, Peter means. By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God (τῃ ὡρισμενῃ βουλῃ και προγνωσῃ του θεου [tēi hōrismenēi boulēi kai prognōsēi tou theou]). Instrumental case. Note both purpose (βουλη [boulē]) and foreknowledge (προγνωσις [prognōsis]) of God and “determined” (ὡρισμενη [hōrismenē], perfect passive participle, state of completion). God had willed the death of Jesus (John 3:16) and the death of Judas (Acts 1:16), but that fact did not absolve Judas from his responsibility and guilt (Luke 22:22). He acted as a free moral agent. By the hand (δια χειρος [dia cheiros]). Luke is fond of these figures (hand, face, etc.) very much like the Hebrew though the vernacular of all languages uses them. Lawless men (ἀνομων [anomōn]). Men without law, who recognize no law for their conduct, like men in high and low stations today who defy the laws of God and man. Old word, very common in the LXX. Ye did crucify (προσπηξαντες [prospēxantes]). First aorist active participle of προσπηγνυμι [prospēgnumi], rare compound word in Dio Cassius and here only in the N.T. One must supply τῳ σταυρῳ [tōi staurōi] and so it means “fastened to the cross,” a graphic picture like Paul’s “nailed to the cross” (προσηλωσας τῳ σταυρῳ [prosēlōsas tōi staurōi]) in Col. 2:14. Did slay (ἀνειλατε [aneilate]). Second aorist active indicative with first aorist vowel α [a] instead of ο [o] as is common in the Koiné. This verb ἀναιρεω [anaireō], to take up, is often used for kill as in Acts 12:2. Note Peter’s boldness now under the power of the Holy Spirit. He charges the people to their faces with the death of Christ.

Acts 2:24

God raised up ( θεος ἀνεστησεν [ho theos anestēsen]). Est hoc summum orationis (Blass). Apparently this is the first public proclamation to others than believers of the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus. “At a time it was still possible to test the statement, to examine witnesses, to expose fraud, the Apostle openly proclaimed the Resurrection as a fact, needing no evidence, but known to his hearers” (Furneaux). The pangs of death (τας ὠδινας του θανατου [tas ōdinas tou thanatou]). Codex Bezae has “Hades” instead of death. The LXX has ὠδινας θανατου [ōdinas thanatou] in Psa. 18:4, but the Hebrew original means “snares” or “traps” or “cords” of death where sheol and death are personified as hunters laying snares for prey. How Peter or Luke came to use the old Greek word ὠδινας [ōdinas] (birth pangs) we do not know. Early Christian writers interpreted the Resurrection of Christ as a birth out of death. “Loosing” (λυσας [lusas]) suits better the notion of “snares” held a prisoner by death, but birth pangs do bring deliverance to the mother also. Because (καθοτι [kathoti]). This old conjunction (κατα, ὁτι [kata, hoti]) occurs in the N.T. only in Luke’s writings. That he should be holden (κρατεισθαι αὐτον [krateisthai auton]). Infinitive present passive with accusative of general reference and subject of ἠν ἀδυνατον [ēn adunaton]. The figure goes with “loosed” (λυσας [lusas]) above.

Acts 2:25

Concerning him (εἰς αὐτον [eis auton]). Peter interprets Psa. 16:8–11 as written by David and with reference to the Messiah. There is but one speaker in this Psalm and both Peter here and Paul in Acts 13:36 make it the Messiah. David is giving his own experience which is typical of the Messiah (Knowling). I beheld (προορωμην [proorōmēn]). Imperfect middle without augment of προοραω [prooraō], common verb, but only twice in the N.T., to see beforehand (Acts 21:29) or to see right before one as here. This idea of προ- [pro-] is made plainer by “before my face” (ἐνωπιον μου [enōpion mou]). On my right hand (ἐκ δεξιων μου [ek dexiōn mou]). The Lord Jehovah like a defender or advocate stands at David’s right hand as in trials in court (Psa. 109:31). That (ἱνα [hina]) here is almost result. Moved (σαλευθω [saleuthō]). First aorist passive subjunctive of σαλευω [saleuō], to shake like an earthquake.

Acts 2:26

Was glad (ηὐφρανθη [ēuphranthē]). First aorist (timeless here like the Hebrew perfect) passive indicative of εὐφραινω [euphrainō] (cf. Luke 15:32). Timeless also is “rejoiced” (ἠγαλλιασατο [ēgalliasato]). Shall dwell (κατασκηνωσει [kataskēnōsei]). Shall tabernacle, pitch a tent, make one’s abode (cf. Matt. 13:32). See on Matt. 8:20 about κατασκηνωσεις [kataskēnōseis] (nests) In hope (ἐπ̓ ἐλπιδι [ep‚ elpidi]). On hope, the hope of the resurrection.

Acts 2:27

In Hades (εἰς ᾁδην [eis Hāidēn]). Hades is the unseen world, Hebrew Sheol, but here it is viewed as death itself “considered as a rapacious destroyer” (Hackett). It does not mean the place of punishment, though both heaven and the place of torment are in Hades (Luke 16:23). “Death and Hades are strictly parallel terms: he who is dead is in Hades” (Page). The use of εἰς [eis] here=ἐν [en] is common enough. The Textus Receptus here reads εἰς ᾁδου [eis Hāidou] (genitive case) like the Attic idiom with δομον [domon] (abode) understood. “Hades” in English is not translation, but transliteration. The phrase in the Apostles’ Creed, “descended into hell” is from this passage in Acts (Hades, not Gehenna). The English word “hell” is Anglo-Saxon from ἑλαν [helan], to hide, and was used in the Authorized Version to translate both Hades as here and Gehenna as in Matt. 5:22. Thy Holy One (τον ὁσιον σου [ton hosion sou]). Peter applies these words to the Messiah. Corruption (διαφθοραν [diaphthoran]). The word can mean destruction or putrefaction from διαφθειρω [diaphtheirō], old word, but in N.T. only here and Acts 13:34–37. The Hebrew word in Psa. 16 can mean also the pit or the deep.

Acts 2:28

The ways of life (ὁδους ζωης [hodous zōēs]). Though dead God will show him the ways back to life.

Acts 2:29

I may say (ἐξον εἰπειν [exon eipein]). Supply ἐστιν [estin] before ἐξον [exon], periphrastic present indicative of ἐξειμι [exeimi], to allow, permit. The Authorized Version has “Let me speak,” supplying ἐστο [esto] present imperative. Freely (μετα παρρησιας [meta parrēsias]). Telling it all (παν, ῥησια [pan, rhēsia] from εἰπον [eipon], to speak), with fulness, with boldness. Luke is fond of the phrase (as in 4:13). It is a new start for Simon Peter, full of boldness and courage. The patriarch (του πατριαρχου [tou patriarchou]). Transliteration of the word, from πατρια [patria], family, and ἀρχω [archō], to rule, the founder of a family. Late word in LXX. Used of Abraham (Heb. 7:4), of the twelve sons of Jacob as founders of the several tribes (Acts 7:8), and here of David as head of the family from whom the Messiah comes. Was buried (ἐταφη [etaphē]). Second aorist passive indicative of θαπτω [thaptō]. His tomb was on Mt. Zion where most of the kings were buried. The tomb was said to have fallen into ruins in the time of the Emperor Hadrian. Josephus (Ant. XVI. 7, 1) attributes most of the misfortunes of Herod’s family to the fact that he tried to rifle the tomb of David.

Acts 2:31

Foreseeing (προιδων [proidōn]). Second aorist active participle. Did it as a prophet. Of the Christ (του Χριστου [tou Christou]). Of the Messiah. See under verse 32. This is a definite statement by Peter that David knew that in Psalm 16 he was describing the resurrection of the Messiah.

Acts 2:32

This Jesus (τουτον τον Ἰησουν [touton ton Iēsoun]). Many of the name “Jesus,” but he means the one already called “the Nazarene” (verse 22) and foretold as the Messiah in Psa. 16 and raised from the dead by God in proof that he is the Messiah (2:24, 32), “this Jesus whom ye crucified” (verse 36). Other terms used of him in the Acts are the Messiah, verse 31, the one whom God “anointed” (Acts 10:38), as in John 1:41, Jesus Christ (9:34). In 2:36 God made this Jesus Messiah, in 3:20 the Messiah Jesus, in 17:3 Jesus is the Messiah, in 18:5 the Messiah is Jesus, in 24:24 Christ Jesus. Whereof (οὑ [hou]). Or “of whom.” Either makes sense and both are true. Peter claims the whole 120 as personal witnesses to the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead and they are all present as Peter calls them to witness on the point. In Galilee over 500 had seen the Risen Christ at one time (I Cor. 15:6) most of whom were still living when Paul wrote. Thus the direct evidence for the resurrection of Jesus piles up in cumulative force.

Acts 2:33

By the right hand of God (τῃ δεξιᾳ του θεου [tēi dexiāi tou theou]). This translation makes it the instrumental case. The margin has it “at” instead of “by,” that is the locative case. And it will make sense in the true dative case, “to the right hand of God.” These three cases came to have the same form in Greek. Rom. 8:24 furnishes another illustration of like ambiguity (τῃ ἐλπιδι [tēi elpidi]), saved by hope, in hope, or for hope. Usually it is quite easy to tell the case when the form is identical. Exalted (ὑψωθεις [hupsōtheis]). First aorist passive participle of ὑψοω [hupsoō], to lift up. Here both the literal and tropical sense occurs. Cf. John 12:32. The promise of the Holy Spirit (την ἐπαγγελιαν του πνευματος του ἁγιου [tēn epaggelian tou pneumatos tou hagiou]). The promise mentioned in 1:4 and now come true, consisting in the Holy Spirit “from the Father” (παρα του πατρος [para tou patros]), sent by the Father and by the Son (John 15:26; 16:7). See also Gal. 3:14. He hath poured forth (ἐξεχεεν [execheen]). Aorist active indicative of ἐκχεω [ekcheō] the verb used by Joel and quoted by Peter already in verses 17 and 18. Jesus has fulfilled his promise. This which ye see and hear (τουτο ὑμεις και βλεπετε και ἀκουετε [touto ho humeis kai blepete kai akouete]). This includes the sound like the rushing wind, the tongues like fire on each of them, the different languages spoken by the 120. “The proof was before their eyes in this new energy from heaven” (Furneaux), a culminating demonstration that Jesus was the Messiah.

Acts 2:34

Ascended not (οὐ - ἀνεβη [ou - anebē]). It is more emphatic than that: For not David ascended into the heavens. Peter quotes Psa. 110:1 as proof. No passage in the O.T. is so constantly quoted as Messianic as this. “St. Peter does not demand belief upon his own assertion, but he again appeals to the Scriptures, and to words which could not have received a fulfilment in the case of David” (Knowling). Sit thou (καθου [kathou]). Late Koiné form for earlier καθησο [kathēso], present middle imperative second singular of καθημαι [kathēmai].

Acts 2:35

Till I make (ἑως ἀν θω [heōs an thō]). Second aorist active subjunctive of τιθημι [tithēmi] with ἀν [an] after ἑως [heōs] for the future, a common Greek idiom. This dominion of Christ as Mediator will last till the plan of the kingdom is carried out (I Cor. 15:23–28). Complete subjugation will come, perhaps referring to the custom of victorious kings placing their feet upon the necks of their enemies (Josh. 10:24). Therefore assuredly (Ἀσφαλως οὐν [Asphalōs oun]). Assuredly therefore, without any slip or trip (ἀσφαλης [asphalēs] from α [a] privative and σφαλλω [sphallō], to trip, to slip. Peter draws a powerfully pungent conclusion by the use of the adverb ἀσφαλως [asphalōs] and the inferential conjunction οὐν [oun]. Peter’s closing sentence drives home the point of his sermon: “This very Jesus whom ye crucified (note ὑμεις [humeis], strongly emphatic ye), him God made both Lord and Messiah” (και κυριον και Χριστον [kai kurion kai Christon]), as David foretold in Psa. 110 and as the events of this day have confirmed. The critics are disturbed over how Luke could have gotten the substance of this masterful address spoken on the spur of the moment with passion and power. They even say that Luke composed it for Peter and put the words in his mouth. If so, he made a good job of it. But Peter could have written out the notes of the address afterwards. Luke had plenty of chances to get hold of it from Peter or from others. [10]


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[1] Barclay, William, Daily Study Bible

[2] Bible Exposition Commentary

[3] Bible Knowledge Commentary

[4] Boice Expositional Commentary

[5] Handfuls on Purpose, James Smith

[6] Holman New Testament Commentary

[7] H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary

[8] Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible - Commentary

[9] Hughes, R. Kent, Preaching the Word

[10] Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament

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