This page is a verse by verse study of Acts 2:14-36. These verses record Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost following our Lord’s ascension.
Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost
¶ "But Peter, standing among the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them, 'Men of Judea, and all you who dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you and heed my words...' " (Acts 2:14).
Peter is a changed man. At the arrest of Jesus, Peter denied his Lord (Matthew 26:33-75), but now he is standing strong and speaking with boldness and authority.
¶ " 'You suppose these men are drunk, but they are not! Be reasonable. It's only the third hour of the day.' "(Acts 2:15).
Third hour of the day. The third hour in Jewish time is 9.00am by our reckoning. It was insulting to say that these devout men were drunk at all, let alone at such an early hour. Yet some were mocking and calling out, "These men are full of new wine"(Acts 2:13).
¶ " 'But this is what God spoke about through the prophet Joel: In the last days, says God, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy; your young men will see visions; your old men will dream dreams. And yes, in those days I will pour out my Spirit on my servants and on my handmaids, and they shall prophesy' "(Acts 2:16-18).
Fulfilling Prophecy. Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 which predicts the giving of the Holy Spirit. This was such a powerful gift that many wonders and signs and miracles occurred, one of which was the xenoglossia being witnessed by all who heard the apostles preaching in many foreign languages (Acts 2:4-11).
Jesus had predicted this giving of the Holy Spirit a few days before it happened (Acts 1:8,Mark 16:15-16).
Baptism and pouring. Some note that "I will pour out my Spirit"(Acts v2:17) is equivalent to You shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit"(Acts 1:5). From this they make an argument that a pouring is sufficient without an immersion. But that isn't what we see here in Acts. The Holy Spirit was poured out in order to immerse the apostles. If this were a parallel to water baptism, then it would demand sufficient water be poured out so as to immerse. However there is no parallel, because we also read "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit"(Acts 2:4), and nobody suggests that we fill people with water to baptize them.
¶ " 'I will show wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath: blood and fire, and palls of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.' "(Acts 2:19-20).
Fulfilling Prophecy (cont). This part of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:30-31) is usually regarded as figurative; nevertheless Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection were attended by signs and wonders not unlike those that Joel describes (Matthew 27:45,50-54).
Day of the Lord. The awesome "day of the Lord" here refers to the day of Pentecost when power came upon the apostles (Acts 1:7-8).
¶ " 'And so it will be that whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.' "(Acts 2:21).
Calling and being called Here at the beginning of Peter's sermon, we have the idea of people calling on God. At the end of Peter's sermon we have the reverse: God calling people (Acts 2:39). Likewise, Paul quotes the same passage about people calling on the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:12-14). And he also teaches the reverse when he calls the saved "those who are called"(Romans 8:28). Being saved involves being called by God and calling upon God. Through Peter’s preaching, God called people so that they might call on God.
Name of the Lord. The "name of the Lord" here means the power and authority of God in Christ our Lord, who alone is able to save.
¶ " 'Men of Israel, hear these words! Jesus of Nazareth is a man recommended to you by God. In your very midst, God wrought mighty works and wonders and signs by him. You yourselves know this. He was then delivered up by the ordaining counsel and foreknowledge of God. You took him, and you crucified and killed him by the hand of men who don't obey God’s law. But God released him from the agony of death, and raised him up, because it was impossible for death to keep him captive.' "(Acts 2:22-24).
Peter’s main message This is the heart of Peter’s message. The rest of the message is supporting argument. Peter makes three statements about Jesus:
His credentials were clear to everybody, supported by the very public miracles he had done.
His crucifixion was a wicked act, a seeming defeat, yet God had long ago planned to turn it into high victory (1Peter 1:18-20).
His conquering of death was witnessed by many. Men had killed him; God raised him up to life again.
¶ " 'For David has this to say about Christ: I saw the Lord always facing me, for he is at my right hand that I should not be moved. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. And more than this, my flesh as well will dwell in hope; because you will not leave my soul in Hades, neither will you let your Holy One see decay. You made known to me the ways of life. You will make me full of joy with your presence.' "(Acts 2:25-28).
Christ’s resurrection. Although David writes this, he is not speaking of himself. Rather, it is Christ speaking through him, foretelling his death and resurrection. His soul will not be abandoned to the world of the dead, nor will his body remain in the grave to rot. He will live again and rejoice.
¶ " 'Brothers, I can say without contradiction that the patriarch David is dead and buried. His tomb is with us to this day. So David was speaking as a prophet. He knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that, of the fruit of David’s fleshly body, God would raise up the Christ to sit on David’s throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that Christ’s soul was not abandoned in Hades, nor did his flesh see decay.' "(Acts 2:29-31).
God makes an oath. The “throne promise” that God made to David is recorded in (2Samuel 7:12), and is made an oath in (Psalms 89:3-4) and (Psalms 132:11).
God fulfills the oath. God has now fulfilled this oath. Jesus is now King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1Timothy 6:14-15). He said himself, "I have sat down with my Father in his throne"(Revelation 3:21). We have been ushered into his kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
David’s throne equals God’s throne. Note that David’s throne is the Lord’s throne, a fact made obvious by these parallel passages: "Solomon sat on the throne of David"(1Kings 2:12),"Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord"(1Chronicles 29:23). The physical throne in Jerusalem was a “type” or symbol of the heavenly throne, just as David’s earthly kingdom was a “type” or symbol of the heavenly kingdom.
God made another oath. David knew of another associated oath, that Christ would be "a priest on his throne after the order of Melchizedek(Zechariah 6:12-13,Psalms 110:4). This oath has been fulfilled (Hebrews 6:17-20). Therefore the throne oath has also been fulfilled.
Not postponed till second coming. Peter says that David looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ. The promise and oath about Christ sitting on David’s throne was fulfilled when Jesus rose from the dead and then ascended into heaven to reign. Popular teaching says that the fulfillment was postponed by God until Christ’s second coming. This teaching contradicts Peter in his Pentecostal sermon.
¶ " 'Jesus is this one whom God raised up. To that fact we all bear witness. Jesus has therefore been exalted to the right hand of God. He has received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit. He has poured out this which you now see and hear.' "(Acts 2:32-33).
Jesus was pouring out the Spirit Jesus poured out the power of the Holy Spirit to produce what was being seen and heard —the manifestation of the sound like a rushing mighty wind and the flames of fiery light that descended upon the apostles; also the ability of the apostles to speak fluently in many foreign languages (a miracle known as xenoglossia, zen-o-gloss-ee-yuh)(Acts 2:2-4).
The message was confirmed by miracles. The miraculous signs were evidence that the message being spoken was from God and his Christ. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, was behind both the message and the miracles that confirmed the message.
Jesus is exalted. Christ was exalted to the right hand of God. There is no higher exaltation than that. Paul expresses it this way: "Therefore God also highly exalted him, bestowing on him the name that is above every name..."(Philippians 2:9). The name above every name is, of course, God’s name.
¶ " 'David didn't ascend into the heavens, but David himself says, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit by my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain, that God has made him both Lord and Christ —this Jesus whom you crucified."(Acts 2:34-36).
One more prophecy from David. Peter reiterates that David’s prophecies were not about himself, but about the Christ. The prophecy that Peter quotes here is Psalm 110:1. Jesus used that same text to confound the religious teachers of his day (Matthew 22:41-46).
Meaning of House of Israel. The term "house of Israel" simply means the family or descendants of Jacob. Jacob was the father of twelve sons who in turn were the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. An angel of God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28). Luke calls these descendants of Jacob "Jews"(Acts 2:5). That name means Judeans—the the remnant of Jacob’s descendants living in Judea and its capital Jerusalem. This was the only surviving part of the large kingdom of Israel over which David and Solomon had ruled. However the term Jews came to include all of Jacob’s descendants who migrated to various parts of the world, as well as their progeny. The Jews had synagogues all over the world, but the devout one journeyed to Jerusalem for special festivals such as Pentecost.
Peter concludes his message. Peter concludes his message with the statement, "Let all the house of Israel know for certain, that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ"(Acts 2:36). This is the main point of Peter s message.
Who crucified Christ?. In some quarters, there is discomfort, even anger, about “blaming thge Jews for Christ s crucifixion.” Three things should be clear:
(1) Not all Jews were to blame. However the Jewish religious leaders, and a big crowd that they collected, shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
(2) Others besides the Jews were to blame. For example it was the Romans who carried out the crucifixion.
(3) We are really all to blame. Everyone born into the world is guilty of Christ’s death. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God(Romans 3:23-25). Without his crucifixion, none of us could be saved, therefore we are all equally responsible for his crucifixion because we caused the need of it.