Acts 2 - The Gospel of the Resurrection
Acts 2 – July 29
You may have noticed that when we finished the gospel of Luke, I did not put much focus on the resurrection, which is clearly the main point of Luke 24. I delayed two days because I wanted to show you how the resurrection became the central cry of the apostles moving forward. Acts is all about the Word of God going forth with power resulting in the expansion of God’s kingdom. Consider the beating heart of the sermon that drew thousands of people into the kingdom the day the church was born.
Peter is acting as the Herald of the living King, proclaiming that death could not hold Jesus down! God raised Him up. Death itself was reversed. When Christ died, the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding region probably thought that it was just one more in a line of short-lived pretenders to the Messianic throne. But Peter’s point in this sermon is that Jesus is alive and that He lives to be the Savior of all who would believe.
Pay close attention to how He develops the argument. Remember, Peter is speaking to Jewish people who knew the Old Testament very well. They knew the prophecies concerning the Messiah who was to come. So, Peter goes right to some of the most well-known Messianic prophecies to remind the people that the Old Testament promises that the Messiah would not experience physical decay. In verses 25-28, Peter quotes Psalm 16.
“For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to hades [Which means the grave], or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence’.”
God had promised that the Messiah’s body would not decay. He promised that He would not desert Him and leave Him in the grave. Peter is reminding the people that this OT prophecy made this promise about the Messiah. But people during that time had not understood the text. In fact, many believed that David was speaking about himself. So, Peter’s next logical step in his argument is to make it clear that it cannot be speaking about David.
So, he says in verse 29, “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” In other words, “hey guys, I am not sure if you noticed this or not but David died like, almost 1000 years ago. If you want to check, you will find his bones in his tomb. Clearly, his body has seen corruption.”
Then Peter shifts the argument away from David, and he shows how God was speaking through David about Jesus in vs. 30-33. “Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” [I imagine at this point Peter pointed to each of the apostles who were standing with him.] “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.”
Jesus is the one who tasted death, yet did not remain in the grave. He is the one who did not see corruption. He experienced the killing tree but was brought back to life.
Peter has built a very airtight biblical argument that David could not be the one Psalm 16 was talking about. And He makes a convincing argument that it must be Jesus who was the focus of that text. Now Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, pulls out the big guns. He brings out a final argument that proves that David was speaking about Jesus in the Psalms. He quotes Psalm 110, which is the most quoted OT chapter in the NT. He says, “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool’.”
We have to get the English out of the way here and dig a little deeper into the original language to understand the logic of Peter’s case. The first Lord written here is the word Yahweh. The second is the word Adonai. Both names for God, but with different connotations. So, the literal translation would be more like this. “Yahweh said to my Adonai, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool’.”
This is a conversation between God the Father and God the Son that was revealed to David. Peter is elevating the argument. He is stating that not only is Jesus alive, not only did God raise Him from the dead, and not only is He the Messiah, but He Himself is God.
Peter lands the argument in verse 36 by saying, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord (which means divine, absolute master) and Christ (which means Messiah), this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Jesus is the Christ. He is the Son of God. The resurrection MUST be part of our proclamation of the gospel. It is not an anomaly or unusual that Peter put such great focus on this. The most boiled-down version of the gospel that we ever find in Scripture is in 1 Cor. 15:3-4. Notice that even at its most basic, the gospel must include the resurrection of Jesus. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”
1 Cor 15:17 says plainly, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” If Christ has not been raised, there is no point. Everything in the Christian faith stands or falls on this one point.
The gospel is good news because Jesus has been raised.