Peter’s preaching in Acts was shaped by Luke.
Acts 2 = summary of what Peter actually said.
Luke says Peter “warmed the crowd” with many other words (not recorded here).
Things of note:
1. Luke used the Septuigen version of the Scriptures (septuigenta = Latin = 70) – these Scriptures were made by 70 Jews. At that time, many Jews were spread throughout the world and didn’t know their mother tongue of Hebrew – so this was the Greek translation of the Scriptures. Most of the early church took most of their Scripture quotes from this version (LXX Version).
This was the main source of the Scriptures for the early church. Also, Joel is different (2:28 – “It shall come to pass afterward that I’ll pour out my flesh on all people…”) Afterward there = meta… = could be indefinitely. Peter here changes that word to “the last days” (it has a more specific time element).
For the New Testament writers, the “Last Days” began with Christ’s first appearance, and would end with his Second Coming. “You have been dreaming of the day of God – when he’d break forth into history – now the day is here in Jesus.” (William Barclay).
Peter obviously didn’t know how long it would be until Jesus returns. Even in 2 Peter, he defends the decades-long-no-Jesus-returning-period “In the last days, scoffers will come, following their own evil desires, and saying, ‘Where is this second coming?’ But they deliberately forget that in the Beginning, God formed the world and flooded the world with water and destroyed it. Now also the heavens are reserved for fire. But don’t forget that with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day. God is patient with everyone, not wishing any to perish, but ALL to come to repentance.”
Not everyone WILL obviously repent, but the opportunity WILL be presented.
Near the end of Peter’s life, 1 Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is near” he thought that the End was near – especially since there was so much time between Jesus’ resurrection and the Second Coming.
The Holy Spirit here has now been poured out and the Age of the Spirit had become. The times in Joel’s prophecy had come – it was now time to put faith in Jesus – because as Joel’s prophecy says, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The note here = every ONE – personally. Not just since you go to church, or since your family goes to church, or since your friend goes to church.
Peter is sure that these are the Last Days of which Joel has prophesied. So, now he turns his argument over to “Jesus IS Messiah” and he goes to show (in the Scriptures) how many things prove he is. This is also the emphasis of the early church’s preaching.
Jesus was a man of God, approved by God, and through his signs and compassion, that proves (outwardly) that he was of God.
Peter argues that what was God’s apparent “weakness” (the crucifixion) was actually the power and plan of God (Romans 1:16 = Paul also says this). Peter argues that by the Jews putting Jesus to death, the Jews actually have fulfilled the prophecies (especially in Isaiah). Then, he quotes a proof text (a Psalm of David) that Jesus’ resurrection was appointed and prophesied previously – AND that God would establish an eternal throne in David’s line.
Psalm 16:8-11 – this is an exact quote from the Septuigen Scriptures. He quotes it Messianically (proving that Jesus is the Messiah). It says that “your servant shall not see decay” yet everyone KNOWS that he died and did decay – so the verse MUST apply to a future descendant of David. The people (and Peter) acknowledge that David is a prophet so it is true that he should be able to see the future.
Jesus also says, “Everything in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms is about me.”
Peter argues that these prophetic words were about Jesus – and the apostles are witnesses to these facts. The proof that the Spirit was present = fire, tongues, etc.
Psalm 101:1 = another proof text.
“Sit at my right hand…”
This verse was difficult to understand – the explanation depended on the way you understood the “lords” – “the Lord said to my lord…” or “the lord said to my Lord…” or … etc.
The Saduccees debated over this, but Jesus debated with them – “how then is the Christ the son of David? He calls him ‘my Lord.’”
The proper understanding of the Lords = the key to understanding the text. Jesus interpreted it messianically as referring to himself.
In fact, this text is not earthly but heavenly, not about David, but Jesus – the disciples were witnesses to Jesus’ Ascension.
In Jesus’ trial, the Pharisees asked “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus, “You have said rightly.”
Peter uses 4 points to argue for Jesus as Messiah.
- Peter’s personal testimony
- Miraculous events of Pentecost
- Information about Jesus that the audience had themselves (he was famous throughout the land at that time)
- The Scriptural proof texts
Then Peter concludes with the point he made throughout – Jesus = Lord, Messiah, Anointed One. (Romans 10:9 – “if you believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth” 1 Cor 12:3 “no one who is speaking by the Spirit says ‘Jesus be cursed’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Spirit.” Phil “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”) – this (from Peter) became an early creed.
Peter’s speech produced a strong emotional reaction in the crowd – OBVIOUSLY, Jesus was the Messiah and they were convicted, humbled, and teachable and asked “What shall we do?”
Peter = the GOAL he’d wanted “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.”
Luke 24:47 Jesus foretells “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be told to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Metanoia = a change of mind/behavior/heart/etc.
This word is used repeatedly in the NT and especially Acts to talk about repentance.
- Acts 3:19 – Peter preaches in Solomon’s colonnade “repent then and turn to God that your sins may be white and times of refreshing come.” These are God-fearers in the temple he’s talking to (church-goers)
- Acts 5:31 – Peter speaks to the Sanhedrin (counsel of Jews) who tried to stop them preaching about Jesus “God exalted him to his own right hand as Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness to the people of Israel.” Here, people in religious leadership.
- Acts 8:22 – Peter speaks to Simon the magician (the occultic magician). Simon wanted to offer money for the gift of the Spirit “Repent of this wickedness, perhaps he’ll forgive you for this thought.” Here, people in the occult also need to repent (today, many people are involved in the occult – wittingly or unwittingly – but whether we know it or not, God condemns the occult).
- Acts 11:18 – explaining the conversion of Cornelius (Roman Gentile seeking God – God led Peter to his house, he preached, the HS fell on them, and it was evident that God had accepted them) “When they heard this they had no further questions, ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance.’” (This was pretty amazing – unclean GENTILES too?)
- Acts 13:24 – Paul in the synagogue gives a word of preaching/teaching – “Before Jesus, John preached repentance to Israel…”
- Acts 17:30 – to pagan philosophers in Athens (Aeropogas) – “In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent – for he has set a day to judge the world – and proves it with Jesus’ resurrection” – some believed here though most mocked him.
- Acts 19:4 – Paul speaks to some disciples in Ephesus “Did you receive the HS when you believed?” “The what?” “How were you baptized?” “Into John.” “John preached repentance, but said, ‘Look to the one who comes after.’ So, let’s baptize you into the one who comes after.” Now, they were baptized into the HS. (This is similar to Apollos who knew the Scriptures well but needed more info to help him be better.)
- Acts 20:21 – the elders at Ephesus “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in Jesus.”
- Acts 26:20 – before King Agrippa “first to those in Damascus, then Jerusalem, then Judea, then the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”
Consider again the crowd that Peter was addressing, they were God-fearing Jews who worshiped and obeyed God already. They are presented as blameless in keeping the Law, so they didn’t really need to repent – they weren’t murderers, etc – but the one thing they needed to do was change their minds with regard to Jesus and enter a new relationship with him as Savior.
Do you have that relationship with Christ?
Have you repented from your sins? (There’s no real forgiveness without repentance – it’s not “cheap grace”).
We may have asked ONCE, got our “fire insurance” – but there must also be commitment to the Lord.
Paul “examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith.” We don’t need to be burdened with guilt, but this is an ongoing process of examination and repentance.
Let’s pray this prayer – if you’re not quite sure, you can join this prayer. It can help your heart.