Acts: For the Cause of Christ #4
Pentecost Pt 2: What’s going on?
Prayer: Lord, We come now to a passage that declares your salvation. I pray that your Spirit will be at work here this morning. That you will open the hearts and minds of those within the reach of my voice. Help us to be focused, free from distraction. And may this be all to your glory. Amen.
Intro: Last time we left with the the disciples having received the gift of the Holy Spirit from heaven and then being filled by the spirit to begin giving praise to God speaking in the tongues and languages of several distinct languages visiting Jerusalem for the feast. The audience was amazed and confused at this and some thought that the disciples were just drunk. So we pick up today by beginning with Peter’s rebuttal to this charge.
1. Peter’s Rebuttal vv14-21
After hearing this charge against the disciples, Peter and the rest of the Twelve stood up on something to elevate themselves above the crowd to be heard. I think that is safe to say that wherever the events from the beginning of the chapter (1-4) started from, this part of the account is probably at the Temple. More than likely in the Outer Court, which is also called the Court of the Gentiles. Peter once again is the spokesman for the Twelve here. He starts by correcting the assumption that they were drunk by reminding them that is was pretty early in the day, “nine in the morning”. Other translations will say “the third hour of the day” because the day began at sunrise, which is usually around 6am. If the comments about being drunk were supposed to be generally funny, Peter’s response was probably one of good humor. He was pretty much saying that it was just too early for anybody to be drunk already.
Peter then links what is happening with the disciples here at Pentecost with Joel’s prophecy of the day of the Lord and quotes Joel 2:28-32. This passage in Joel has to do with the nation of Israel in the end times, and coming judgement called “the day of the Lord”. Peter is saying that the same Holy Spirit that led Joel to prophesy, and mention in the prophecy, is at work now with the disciples. Not everything mentioned in this quotation took place here at Pentecost, the prophecy in full will come to pass during the end times. Some try to tie elements of the prophecy back to Jesus’ crucifixion and some of the events that happened there, however I don’t see a good connection and it seems to be an argument from silence as Scripture doesn’t directly link those things together.
Peter’s statement would have certainly gotten the Jewish attention, as most Jews thought that the Spirit of God would only come upon a select few (Moses, David, the prophets), but here were 120 people, men and women, sharing the same Spirit, the same blessing, and the same experience. “It was indeed the drawing of a new age, the ‘last days’ in which God would bring to completion His plan of salvation for mankind” (Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Dynamic, © 1987, p30).
So Peter had dismissed the charge of drunkenness and gotten the attention of the crowd by linking the what was happening to a prophecy of end time events. Now he would get to his main point and give his rebuke to those listening.
2. Peter’s Rebuke v 22-36
Peter is now addressing his main theme: Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. He reminds them of the miracles, signs and wonders (or mighty works). Peter doesn’t have to detail them,as these events are recent history to most of them that are there. Remember Jesus was ministering for about three years, and Pentecost is an annual feast, most of these visitors would have been in Jerusalem off and on during Jesus’ earthly work. Three different terms are used to describe how God showed that Jesus was the Messiah. The first term is miracles, there are deeds of great power which are viewed here as supernatural. The Greek word used here for miracles is the same Greek root for our English word dynamite. The second terms used is wonders, these are acts that brought wonderment and awe to the witnesses. The third terms is signs, these are deeds and words which serve as proofs of His person and mission.
Peter continues to explain that through God’s foreknowledge and plan Jesus was crucified. Paul references God’s plan in Romans 8:32 where he says, “He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all…”. Peter, however, lays the blame for Jesus’ death (both direct and indirect responsibility) on the Jews, and how the Jewish authorities used “lawless people”, the Romans who are outside Jewish law, to sentence and carry out the crucifixion. But Peter then moves on to tell them that Jesus’ conviction, sentence and execution by the earthly court had been overturned by a “higher court”. What do I mean? Look at the beginning of verse 24, “God raised him up, ending the pains of death…” God reversed the death sentence given, because the Messiah could not be held by death.
Verses 25-28 Peter again quotes from the Old Testament. This time Peter is quoting from David’s writings in the Psalms. He quotes Psalm 16:8-11. Peter’s quotation cannot be in reference to David, as David is dead and buried, these words must refer to the Messiah. F. F. Bruce points out that “These prophetic words, Peter goes on to argue, have been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth and in no one else; Jesus of Nazareth is therefore the expected Messiah” (Bruce, NICNT: The Book of The Acts, © 1988, p65).
In verse 29 Peter shows those listening that David couldn’t have been the only one that Psalm was talking about as he reminds them that David is dead and buried, and that they know right where his tomb is. This contrasts with Jesus’ tomb as Peter could have walked any of them over to it, but unlike David, Jesus wasn’t there. Peter continues by reading them that God had promised something to David in Psalm 132:11. Peter is saying that Jesus is the descendant of David that God raised from the dead, this was something the he and the others could all testify about.
Peter then continues by stating that not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but He is now exalted at the right hand of the Father. Jesus had received the promised Holy Spirit and then gave the Spirit to His representatives, His disciples, to continue His ministry on earth. The signs seen at Pentecost were tokens of the spirit being poured out, and further proof the Jesus was the exalted Messiah. Peter again uses another Psalm quotation in his argument. This time Psalm 110:1. Again Peter is saying the invitation given in this Psalm wasn’t for David, but for a son of David or a descendant of David. This was, again, fulfilled by Jesus. Peter concludes with a pronouncement of Jesus as the Lord and Messiah, and accuses the Jews of His crucifixion.
Peter had rebutted the charge of drunkenness, and now has rebuked the Jewish nation for rejecting their Messiah. What now? How will they respond? They seek salvation.
3. People’s Repentance v 37-41
The people are responding to the message Peter gave. Perhaps more accurately, the Holy Spirit had used Peter’s words to convict the audience. They had realized they had killed the one their hope rested on, now they wondered if they still had any hope? In verse 38 Peter tells them there was hope. They need to repent and believe Jesus is the Messiah. Then as proof of their sincere repentance and faith in Jesus they should be baptized.
The wording of the this verse is hotly debated. At first glance it appears that Peter is saying that baptism is required for salvation and to receive the Holy Spirit. However, the rest of the New Testament teaches that salvation is grace alone through faith alone. So what is going on here? Part of the debate is actually down to one Greek preposition, eis, translated as “for” or “unto”. I’m not going to go into the technical details here, but generally there are four views for this verse. The first one I already alluded to would say that the baptism is physical water baptism only and this opens the verse to salvation by works. The second view is that the baptism is spiritual only. That Peter is only referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While this fits with the theology we find in Acts, it doesn’t fit the immediate context or how baptism is used in the book of Acts. The third one is subtle, and a bit complicated to explain. The idea “would be ‘Repent for/with reference to your sins, and let each of you be baptized…’” (Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics © 1996, p370). While this one works well, if your not up on your Greek Grammar it can get a bit complicated. The last view, and I think probably the best, is that Peter had both the physical water baptism and the spiritual in mind. Peter seems to have this view in Acts chapters 10 and 11. Look at 11:15-16, turn back a page or two to chapter 10:47.
Peter continues with his explanation of the hope by telling them it isn’t just for them in the audience, but for their children, future generations, as well as those not in Jerusalem (as well as Gentiles as we’ll discuss later). He tells them that those who do respond have been called by God. F. F. Bruce puts it this way, “Those who call on the name of the Lord are those whom the Lord Himself has called – and called effectually” (Bruce, p72). Peter continues talk, we are not given all of what he said or for how long he and the rest of the disciples were there. He calls them to be saved from the ‘corrupt generation. In verse 41 we are told that of everyone there heard Peter’s message, 3000 people trusted in Jesus, and were baptized to publicly identify with Him. These 3000 were added to the 120 from the upper room. That small group could not be ignored as it now had visibility within the city.
Close: This is how the church started. The Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the rest of the 120, they went out praising the Lord, Peter delivered a message to Jews at important feast day and another 3000 people were saved. So I say to you today as Peter said then, Repent of your sins and be saved from this corrupt generation.