Chapter 4: What a message!
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapour of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.”
22 ‘Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him: “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.”
29 ‘Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
34 ‘For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’
This amazing event cannot be drunkenness!
Peter, with the Eleven apostles, now explains why they have spoken in other languages. But first he insists to the crowd that the speakers are not drunk. His argument is simple. Nine in the morning is far too early to be drunk! As someone else put it, ‘People usually got drunk at night—at banquets, not at 9 a.m.; people might have a hangover in the morning, but they would hardly act drunk.’1 Also any drunkenness at that early hour would certainly not have been on that widespread scale. And would each drunkard have achieved exactly the same remarkable result in speaking different unlearned languages fluently? To say the speakers are drunk is a ‘cop-out’!2
Peter provides the perfect explanation that God predicted would happen, through His prophet Joel.3 The Holy Spirit would be poured out on His people. Now it is happening! Part of that prophecy says, ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’. The fulfilment of that, too, is on the very brink of being witnessed. The source of this gift of speaking unlearned languages fluently cannot be drunkenness: it is from the Holy Spirit.
These well-known facts of the gospel cannot be denied!
If Jesus Christ had lived in a giant floodlit goldfish bowl, with 24/7 detailed TV coverage, His life could scarcely have been more public than it actually was. It was recorded from four different angles in the gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. His birth, life, miracles, prayers, teaching, leadership, trials, opposition, rejection, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven are very well documented. It is as if these four different biographies, like four commentators covering the same football match, report the basic facts from ‘each corner of the ground’. Yet they do not all mention exactly the same details surrounding those facts. Similarly the four gospels cover the same basic subject—Jesus Christ—yet without all focusing on exactly the same details. But they never contradict one another.
Their accounts are therefore reliable and consistent, without being identical. How can this be? Because God the Holy Spirit is the ‘master writer’ who directs them, as He does all writers of the Bible.4
Like them, Peter also now focuses on Jesus,5 as the One ‘attested by God’ for doing well-accredited ‘miracles, wonders and signs’. But with the help of ‘lawless hands’, religious Jewish leaders manipulated the crowd to have Him ‘crucified and put to death’.
Peter adds that ‘God raised’ Him up, ‘having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it’. None of these events were done secretly in a quiet corner. It was all very public knowledge. People living at the time of Christ’s cross and resurrection and near to where it all happened do not dispute the facts. It was common knowledge that Jesus died and that many people claimed to have met Him as the risen Lord. The stubborn refusal of some to repent and believe in Jesus seems so stupid. But Jesus’ disciples, like Peter, never need to argue that these events actually took place. Those there at the time knew it was true. The disciples now simply explain why.
They declare that we sinners can be forgiven and born again6 if we turn from our sins, believe Jesus died on the cross to take our deserved punishment, and receive Him as Lord and Saviour in our hearts. Those who do repent and receive Him are therefore converted. Their new lives demonstrate that all this really is true.
These facts cannot be denied.
The main focus of this prophecy cannot be David!
Peter now refers his Jewish audience to Psalm 16:8–11, written by King David. Like many prophecies there is an immediate context affecting David and also a wider context to be fulfilled later. One Bible teacher said about these verses that, ‘it is difficult to tell whether the crisis is past or present to the psalmist. Death may be imminent for him (v. 10).’7 David faced many crises: his life was in the balance on several occasions. But Jesus later went through a far greater crisis than any of David’s: He died on the cross taking our sin and judgement.
However, His soul was never left ‘in Hades’. Whereas David ‘is both dead and buried and his tomb is with us to this day’, he ‘did not ascend into the heavens’ after that. The Lord Jesus Christ has been ‘raised up’ and also ‘exalted to the right hand of God’. He rose again never more to die.8 He also ascended to Heaven9 and sits on the right hand of God the Father.10 King David knew that God had ‘sworn in truth’ that He would place one of his descendants on his throne as king.11 As a Spirit-aided prophet, David knew the lasting force of this prophecy referred uniquely to Jesus, the King of kings12 who, unlike him, would neither be held by the grave nor be subject to decay. Jesus Christ is the lasting fulfilment of these verses, as his Jewish listeners know well. The subject cannot be David, now dead and buried! Jesus is the unique, special, God-man, and the resurrected and eternal Lord and Saviour of all trusting Him personally.
The claims of Jesus Christ cannot be dismissed!
Peter’s message finishes with God-given confidence and with full assurance. After all, this is God’s word—not a bright idea which David somehow dreamed up. So he boldly proclaims, ‘God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ’. His hearers must now either bow their hearts, minds, wills and lives to Jesus, and plead with Him to forgive them and become their Saviour, or face eternal judgement for their sins.
The same is still true for us today.13 That staggering offer we saw in Acts 2:21 is still open to all today: ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’. ‘Whoever’—does that include you, do you think? Perhaps you have not yet called on the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you and enter your life as Lord and Saviour? Or maybe you are a straying Christian who needs to call on Jesus for forgiveness, restoration and renewal?
In either case, call on Him now! Remember: the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be dismissed.
Questions on Chapter 4
What a Message!—Acts 2:14–36
A. Why are the scoffers wrong who joke that those preaching in unlearned languages are drunk. How does Peter argue from reason and from Scripture to support his message? Who is most convincing, and why? Are there any other arguments that you would use?
Acts 2:13, 14–20, Joel 2:28–32
B. How many separate facts about the Lord Jesus Christ can you find in Peter’s message? Put down two or three words to summarise each fact you can find.
C. How do you link the truths in Acts 2:21 with Acts 2:36? Compare your findings with the verses below.
John 3:16, 36, 1 Peter 2:24–25, 1 Corinthians 1:18
- The IVP Bible Background Commentary—New Testament by Craig S. Keener: publisher IVP Academic. See 1 Thessalonians 5:7. ↩
- Read again in Chapter 3, the comments on Acts 2:13 headed Scrambled thinking: when unbelief defies logic. ↩
- Acts 2:17–21 quoting from Joel 2:28–32 ↩
- 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16 ↩
- The verses below show how Peter now preaches to the crowd about Jesus Christ: His humanity—v. 22–23, His miracles—v. 22, His divinely planned death on the cross through wicked men—v. 23,36, His well attested resurrection—v. 24,32,36, His fulfilling of prophecy—v. 25–36, His ascension to Heaven—v. 33–35, the Father’s pouring out the Spirit for Him, His position as Lord and Christ (Messiah)—v. 36 ↩
- John 3:3,7, 1 Peter 1:17–23 especially verse 23 ↩
- R. C. Sproul in The Reformation Study Bible, page 767 ↩
- Hebrews 6:20, 7:1–3,15–16,24–25, 2 Peter 1:11 ↩
- Luke 24:50–53, John 20:17, Acts1:1–2, 9-10, Ephesians 4:8–10 ↩
- Acts 5:31, 7:55–56, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3,13, Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22 ↩
- Psalm 132:11 ↩
- 1 Timothy 6:13–16, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:16 ↩
- Romans 6:23, Hebrews 2:3, Hebrews 12:25 ↩