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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Acts 2:2224, 3241comment (0)

April 23, 2009

By Thomas Fuller

Related Scripture: Acts 2:2224, 3241


Bible Studies for Life
Director of Ministry Leadership Development, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

JESUS THE SAVIOR: ACCEPT OR REJECT?
Acts 2:22–24, 32–41

The Christian faith is all about a singular individual: Jesus of Nazareth. People may be drawn to a particular teaching or ethic of the faith or may take issue with various aspects of the faith. Yet the central and inescapable question on which Christian faith hinges is “Who is Jesus?” Jesus put this very question to His disciples at Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13–16). It was Peter’s response — “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” — that gave voice to the confession that has changed lives and the world ever since. This lesson finds Peter proclaiming that same truth before an audience of thousands, each of whom had to decide for himself or herself “Who is Jesus?” The question remains today and it calls for a decision from each individual.

Conflicting Opinions (22–24)
Peter’s sermon begins in verse 14 with his pointing to the believers’ speaking in other tongues as the fulfillment of God’s promise through the prophet Joel to “pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” Peter’s citation of Joel’s prophecy ends in verse 21 with “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Thus the stage is set for Peter to set forth the key figure in God’s plan of salvation: “Jesus of Nazareth.” In these verses, Peter contrasted the truth about Jesus to the opinions and actions of the “men of Israel.”

Verse 22 acknowledges the truth: Jesus was “a man approved of God,” as evidenced by the “miracles and wonders and signs” God performed through Him. Verse 23 cites the people’s reaction to Jesus: By the agency of “wicked hands” (KJV) or “lawless people” (HCSB), the Roman authorities, they crucified Him. Even this was done according to God’s plan. Verse 24 renders the verdict: Jesus is alive; God raised Him up from death, which is the authenticating sign that Jesus is the Messiah, whom death cannot hold.

Stirring Testimony (32–36)
In these verses, Peter brings together the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (14–21) with the truth about Jesus the Messiah (22–24) by pointing his hearers to the promises in Scripture. In verses 25–28, Peter points to David’s words concerning the Messiah in Psalm 16:8–11, specifically that the Lord will not allow His “Holy One to see corruption (decay).” In verses 29–31, Peter asserts that David’s words could not be in reference to himself — dead and buried as he was — but to the “fruit of his loins” (his descendant), the Christ (Messiah). David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah and “[t]his Jesus ... God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses” (32).

Jesus did not become the Messiah by being resurrected but was resurrected because He was the Messiah. And being resurrected, He was exalted to “the right hand of God,” a place of authority from which Jesus could now fulfill the promise of Joel’s prophecy: God’s Spirit was poured out on the believers.

Yet Peter’s argument is not complete. Psalm 110 is a psalm of ascent, applied in the earthly realm to a king’s ascending to his throne of honor and power. Peter and his audience, however, knew the verse had a greater, transcendent meaning — the ascent of the Messiah to His position of lordship. Verse 36 is the climactic conclusion: “God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (Messiah).” 

Standing at the Crossroads (37–41)
The members of Peter’s audience were “pricked in their heart” at the thought that they were guilty of the murder of God’s Messiah, Jesus. The recognition of their guilt before God gave utterance to the plea, “[W]hat shall we do?” Peter’s response is clear: “Repent, and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ.” By doing so, they were “calling on the name of the Lord” (21) and thus receiving God’s forgiveness of sin and His gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s gift of salvation “is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off,” that is, to all people in all times and places. Many today stand at the crossroads of decision over the question, “Who is Jesus?” There is life and hope abundant for those who will trust in God’s Truth, embrace the Savior and acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all.

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