Acts of the Apostles 2.22-36

Book of ActsIn these verses we have the last half of Peter’s response to the people who accused the Galileans of being drunk. In the first part Peter said that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of the signs that the prophet Joel said would occur when Messiah comes. In this part we see Peter arguing that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah.

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. 

Peter begins his argument by recounting the pubic nature of Jesus’ earthly ministry, which was known to everyone (see v. 22 “as you yourselves know”). Jesus’ ministry was not a private affair between him and 12 other men, but was instead a public affair. Jesus was out amongst the people teaching and performing signs and wonders. Even Jesus himself says this in John 18.20, “Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.” Christianity doesn’t claim to be based on a private revelation given to one person or a select group of people, but rather claims that its founder taught and worked miracles in public.

The only way Peter could say, “as you yourselves know” and for his words to be taken seriously so that we have them not only preserved, but also believed 2000 years from when they were spoken, is if what he is claiming is true. Otherwise, if his words were false, they would not have been taken seriously and his words not believed nor preserved; he would have been laughed at and dismissed by his audience.

In vv. 23 Peter reminds his audience that Jesus was put to death publically by crucifixion and that they witnessed this event. Then in v. 24 Peter makes the claim that Jesus was raised from the dead, which he then moves on to support in vv. 25-32.

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. 

Peter quotes a passage from Psalm 16.8-11 and then proceeds to explain how these verses cannot refer to King David himself since David died, was buried, and his tomb is (or was during Peter’s time at least) still with them (v. 29). David thus did go to Hades (i.e. the place of the dead, everyone goes there regardless) and his body did suffer corruption. This is in contrast to what Peter claims about Jesus. According to Peter Jesus was raised from the dead (v. 24) and is thus not in Hades nor is his body decaying and suffering corruption. Peter is saying that David was predicting the resurrection of the Messiah in these verses, and that since Jesus was resurrected he fulfilled this prophecy and that all the Galileans, those who are accused of being drunk, have witnessed Jesus’ resurrection as well (vv. 30-32).

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.”’

Peter continues by saying that not only has Jesus risen from the dead, but is seated at the right hand of God (representing supreme power and authority). He supports this assertion by citing Psalm 110.1, a passage which was believed to be describing the Messiah (Matthew 22.41-46; Mark 12.35-37; Luke 20.41-44).

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.”

Peter’s conclusion can be summarized this way: “Based on everything  that I have just said, that what you hear with the people speaking in your native tongues is the fulfillment of the signs the prophet Joel said would accompany the coming of the Messiah, and that it was predicted that the Messiah would be raised from the dead and would ascend into heaven, and that these Galileans have witnessed these events, know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the Messiah that you have been waiting for.”

Next week we encounter the response of the people to Peter’s speech.

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