Acts 2:14-36 Peter's Sermon at Pentecost
I recommend that members read Peter's entire sermon before going further with this study. We left off our last study with the temple mount in astonishment. One hundred twenty Galileans declaring the mighty works of God in the varied languages of the people. Even when the mockers said they were full of sweet wine, it wasn't because the disciples were stumbling about like intoxicated people. It had to do with their boldness of speech. It had to do with the phenomena of Pentecost.
Now we want to take a look at the first gospel message of the new covenant. The message Peter preaches that day will set the tone for the gospel age. Let's begin our study. (This study may be a little lengthy, but it is quite valuable to what is going to happen next. When Peter completes his sermon, three thousand new believers will be added to the Church.)
Vss14,15: Peter takes his stand with the eleven.
Everyone's attention has been drawn by the prophesying. Now it is time for the 12 apostles. God has something clear and distinct to say to all Jewish people who have gathered from the nations.
"Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words."
Probably at this moment the entire temple mount begins to quieten down. Peter's voice is probably heard through the temple confines. It is possible that the priests themselves are giving attention. (Many of them will become believers.)
"These men are not drunk as you suppose."
Peter is not comparing states of drunkenness. He is simply stating that these men are not drunk. Then he adds that it is but the third hour of the day. (9 a.m.) People get drunk at night.
Vs16: "...but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:"
Here is where we need understanding. Peter's entire sermon is going to center on quotations from the prophets. There was no New Testament. They preached the new covenant from Moses and the prophets. (Can you do that? You need to learn how.)
Did you know that we have been instructed to never exceed the prophets in our preaching and teaching? We are to preach the Jesus of the prophets. And even when we preach from the apostolic writings, we are not to preach in a way that would violate the prophetic writings. Listen to one of the last conversations Jesus had with the disciples:
"Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'" (Luke 24:44-48)
(By the way, you may often here me say this, but it really needs to sink in; 'Salvation begins and ends in Jerusalem. Keep your eyes on Jerusalem.')
All the prophetic utterances Peter quotes from that day are well known to the Jewish people. These quotes were commonly accepted by the Jewish peoples as belonging to Messiah. Therefore, it wasn't a matter of Peter trying to explain something what wasn't understood. Peter was speaking to their own faith in the promises given ages ago.
Vs17: "'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'That I will pour forth OF MY SPIRIT on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.'"
Notice that sons and daughters will prophesy. This is exactly what was happening at Pentecost. All 120 were declaring the mighty works of God.
But there is another issue I would like to bring out. Although there are certain principles that govern the local church with regard to men and women in leadership roles, this aspect of declaring the works of God belongs to all God's people, men and women.
There is a Psalm of David that sets this forth. Psalm 68 speaks of Christ. The background for this Psalm is Israel's escape from Egypt, but its prophetic intent is to Christ. Listen to selected Scriptures that directly relate to the new covenant, and in some cases are actually quoted in the New Testament:
Psm68:1; "Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered." (Did God arise? Were His enemies scattered? Cf. Col2:15; "...He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.")
Psm68:11; "The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim the good tidings (Gospel is an old English word that means good or glad tidings) are a great host."
Note it says 'women.' The reference is two-fold. After crossing the Red Sea, it was Miriam who begin the worship with a great number of women joining in. They sang the song of Pharaoh's defeat. But this also points to the new covenant. Women are equal participants in declaring the glad tidings of Jesus Christ in ways and means that the Lord gives them.
Psm68:18; "You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives." (Quoted in Ephesians 4:8)
Psm69:19; "Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden..." (Peter had this in mind when he said we are to cast our cares on Jesus.)
Acts2:18; "Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy."
The testimony continues.
Vss19,20; "And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come."
This one may seem difficult, but we need to see it in relation to the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. Sometimes the prophets spoke of both events in one setting, and they seemed to merge. However, Paul said that the Church itself was a mystery hidden from past ages.
One way to understand how the prophets wrote about the two appearances of the Lord, is to think about two mountain ranges, one behind the other, with a valley separating them. From a distance all the mountains seem right together, but as you get closer to the mountains you realize that they are separate ranges. That's often the way prophecy works. The prophets often blended the two comings of Jesus.
Vs21: "And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
This is the first glimpse we have of the gospel of grace. This theme will carry over into all the apostolic preaching. Paul later explains the message they were given to preach. Follow closely:
"But what does it say? 'The word is the near you, in your mouth and in your heart' -- that is, the word of faith WHICH WE ARE PREACHING, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'" (Rom10:8- 13)
If this is not the message being preached, then the message being preached is not true to the the gospel. God did not make it hard for men and women to be saved. The one thing they must do is identify with Jesus Christ by recognizing Him as Lord, that is, His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and Lordship. That is what calling on His name actually means.
Vs22: "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 ... JUST AS YOU YOURSELVES KNOW."
The ministry of Jesus Christ was well known by all the peoples, not only in the land of Israel, but word had spread about Him to Jews outside the land, and even to Gentiles in various places. Remember the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus? (Cf. John 12:21)
Vs23: "...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."
Listen carefully --- The cross was God's plan. Also note that Peter says the Jews nailed Him to the cross by the hands of Gentiles. Remember what I said earlier? The Jews provided the sacrifice, but both Jew and Gentile participated in the offering. Perhaps it is better to say that God Himself provided the sacrifice. The story of God's sacrifice Lamb is written across the pages of His holy book.
Vs24: "But God raised Him up again ... it was impossible for Him to be held in its [deaths] power."
Vs25-28: "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.' ... You will not abandon My soul to hades ... You will make Me full of gladness with Your presence.'"
This is an interesting prophecy. David speaks both of His experience and knowledge of God's Christ, and yet it is the Spirit of Christ in him speaking prophetically concerning the cross.
David often speaks of Christ. Actually during the time of Christ, the three most popular books among the Jewish people were, Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah. These books spoke of God's Messiah.
Vss29-31: Peter explains that David spoke as a prophet and had Christ in mind. "Because he [David] was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne. ... He looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ..."
Vs32: "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses." (This testimony of being the witnesses becomes the force behind the New Testament writings.)
Vs33: "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God ... He has poured forth this which you both see and hear."
The events of the day of Pentecost took place because Jesus had taken His place at the right hand of God, and had received His kingdom. This is why Pentecost can be spoken of as the coronation day of Christ.
Vs34: "For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."'
This prophecy is from Psalm 110. And it was accepted by the Jews of that time as applying to Messiah. The importance of this particular prophecy cannot be overstated. Jesus quotes it and the apostles quote it. (Actually Psalm 110 is a panoramic view of the ascension and second coming of Jesus Christ.)
Vs36: "This Jesus God raised up again ... Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."
What was the house of Israel to know? That God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ. It is this message that will prick the hearts of all who are listening. Many will turn to Jesus. Some will hesitate. Others will turn away.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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