Lesson 5: Peter's Sermon on the Day of Pentecost

Acts 2:14-37

Welcome again to our study beginning in Acts 2:14. Now in the first 13 verses of Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, the apostles received the power that Jesus had promised and all of the apostles began to speak as the spirit gave them utterance. They spoke miraculously in languages that they had never learned. Now this amazed the multitude that gathered on that Sunday morning. Verse 12 says:
And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
Some mockers said the apostles were drunk but by in large the crowds were ready to listen. The first part of verse 14 says:
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them,....
The Holy Spirit here saw fit to preserve for us the message of Peter on this occasion. The rest of verse 14 and the verses that follow down through verse 36, a total of 23 verses, record part of Peter's sermon. Some today believe, as you are perhaps aware, that Peter is given some exalted papal position in the kingdom above the other apostles. Please note that there is nothing here to support such contention. The other apostles were teaching too. They were teaching exactly the same thing that Peter was teaching - perhaps in different words - but the same message. Peter did not stand out from the other 11 apostles. He stood up with the 11. Now Peter plus 11 more does not make 120 people. Thus, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles - not the 120 as some try to teach. Now the fact that Peter's words were chosen to be recorded for us does not take anything away from the rest of the apostles. Let's listen to Peter's speech. Please read silently as 1 read it aloud. Try to imagine that you are listening to Peter as if you are a part of that keyed-up crowd. Remember, someone has just charged in verse 13 that the apostles were intoxicated. Peter says beginning in the middle of verse 14:
14                       Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at
Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken
to my words:
15   For these are not drunken, as ye suppose seeing
it is but the third hour of the day.
16                       But this is that which was spoken by the prophet
Joel;
17   And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith
God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh:
and   your   sons   and   your   daughters   shall
prophesy, and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams:
18   And on my servants and on my handmaidens I
will pour out in those days of rny Spirit; and they
shall prophesy;
19                       And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and
signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and
vapour of smoke;
20                       The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the
moon into blood, before that great and notable
day of the Lord come:
21                       And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall
call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
22                       Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of
Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by
miracles and wonders and signs, which God did
by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also
know:
23                       Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel
and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by-
wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24                       Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the
pains of death: because it was not possible that
he should be holden of it.
25                       For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw
the Lord always before my face, for he is on my
right hand, that I should not be moved:
26                       Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue
was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in
hope:
27                       Because thou wilt not leave rny soul in hell,
neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see
corruption.
28                       Thou hast made known to me the ways of life:
thou shalt make me   full of joy "with thy
countenance.
29                       Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you
of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and
buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this
day.
30                       Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that
God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the
fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he
would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
31                       He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of
Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither
his flesh did see corruption.
32           This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33
Therefore being by the right hand of God
exalted, and having received of the Father the
promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth
this, which ye now see and hear.
34
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but
he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit
thou on my right hand,
Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know
assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus,
whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Ok. It's not likely that Peter would have broken his speech here had he not been interrupted, according to verse 37. We'll look at this interruption and Peter's response a little later, but first, let's analyze Peter's speech and see if we can get that
message clearly in mind.
Anytime you speak to a group it is just natural to try to identify with your audience on every point that you have in common. Notice in verses 14 and 15 how Peter used this technique to lead into his message. He addressed this message to the men of Judaea and all who abode at Jerusalem. Now this included everyone, both local and transient, and after exhorting them to pay close attention he says in essence in verse 15, "most of you are smarter than this wise guy that just yelled out that we are full of new wine." He is saying in essence "this isn't even the normal time of day for that sort of thing." Now this served as a sort of pun, I suppose, and at the same time caused the audience to say to themselves, you know, sort of mentally, "Yeah, we agree with you Peter, that statement was kind of dumb but go ahead now, how can you explain what's happening here? So, you see, it brought them to the frame of mind that Peter desired. His statement should not be looked upon as proof that it is impossible to get drunk in the morning - it's just not the normal time that's all. It also serves those of us who read this statement in Acts 2 to fix the time of day on this Sunday morning when these events took place. This would be about 9:00 a.m. our time assuming that the sun comes up at about 6:00 a.m. Then immediately in verse 16 Peter gets down to telling them exactly what they wanted to know. He says: "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel." Then he began a five verse quotation, or paraphrase, from Joel 2:28-32. Joel is an Old Testament book of prophecy. This served more than one purpose. First, it helped answer their question recorded at the end of verse 12: "What meaneth this?" Secondly, it helped Peter to identify with his audience, in that, he assured them that he believed in what we would call the Old Testament just as much as they did. Remember, these were devout Jews according to verse 5. Some of them had traveled by primitive transportation hundreds of miles to come to Jerusalem for to worship. Perhaps rnanv of them could quote the whole book of Joel. This was likely a proof text, you know, commonly used by the Jews to show that a Messiah would come so as Peter quoted, they no doubt gave silence and checked his perusal of the scripture. Now I suggest that you re-read verses 17-21. Don't forget in verse 16 Peter said that the thing that was happening there on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of this scripture, that is', Joel 2:28-32. Verses 17-21 here is that scripture in the form of a quotation. I must admit that some of the statements and symbols in this prophecy are hard to reconcile. Now it's not likely that every word and every statement and every symbol in this prophecy was being fulfilled completely at that very minute - 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning there on Pentecost Do you see the words "saith God" in verse 17?
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith
God....

Now Peter added those words "saith God". Those are Peter's words not, part of the quotation. This establishes that Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, accepted this prophecy as Gods word. The words "last days" we have already talked about or discussed before. They refer to the Christian age in which we live today - the that age began on Pentecost discussed here in Acts 2. This can be established again in the first verse of the book of Hebrews. The knowledgeable Jews understood and expected a dispensation of time after the Jewish age. Orthodox Jews are still looking, but Peter said "this is that", "this is it." The time had come. If you don't understand another thing about thi s prophecy, this part is very clear. Thus, the kingdom Jesus promised and that the apostles waited for in Jerusalem had begun. The pouring out of God's spirit was obviously taking place right in front of their eyes. It had not yet affected all flesh in such a way as to cause some of them to prophesy and teach and to see visions and dreams as they ultimately would and the unfolding of our narrative? shall verify. "All flesh" here means all nationalities. You see, this had to do with those miraculous tongues that they were sneaking. That is, Peter attributed this unlearned language that they were speaking to the spirit of God. How else could it be explained? You see, no intelligent being could explain it any other way. Now, put an eyeball on verse 18 for just a minute. See the words "in those days'"? "Days" is plural. So it is not likely that everything prophesied in Joel was going to take place on this very one occasion. Now I'm talking about Pentecost. Verses 19, 20 and 21 are variously understood. Now they have been attributed to many different things by many different commentators. Read the verses closely again. I'll let you walk the tightrope alone, draw your own conclusions. Just one word of caution - never make them say what you want them to say because they say what they say. This same speaker, Peter, said at a later time, II Peter 1:20: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

So if you don't understand it, just admit that you don't understand it! Have you heard the story about the two ladies who were passing gossip across the backyard fence? One of them passed a juicy piece of gossip across the fence concerning her neighbor lady down the street. The other lady said "Oh, is that right, tell me more" and the lady replied "Well, I can't. I've already told you more than I heard." Now the moral of that story is don't tell more than you know, except only what is positive and reasonable, but do not contribute to all the sectarian and denominational division in our world today. There is nothing that God hates worse than sowing discord among his brethren. See Proverbs 6:19. I think you should read verses 19, 20 and 21. I've already read them to you once, but don't you forget Peter said "this is that" in verse 16. Therefore, it applies to the events surrounding Pentecost. Now don't get it out of context. Remember, this was a great transition, really, from the Old Testament to the New Testament - from the 10 Commandment law to Christ's law, from the Jewish age to the Christian age. Verse 21 makes it clear that a transition shall come to pass. You see it? Ok. Here we are in the middle of Peter's sermon after riveting their attention on the prophecy of Joel and astounding them with "This is that," then Peter punches them right square in the nose with the accusation that they were responsible for killing Jesus. Listen to it again - verse 22:
22                        Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of
Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by
miracles and wonders and signs, which God did
by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also
know:
23                        Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel
and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by
wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24                        Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the
pains of death: because it was not possible that
lie should be holden of it.
Notice this is the first time Jesus had been mentioned to the multitude in Peter's speech. Now the three verses that I just read might be paraphrased like this: God reproved it, you killed him, but God raised him from the dead. They must have been staggering in thought. Peter's words were like a succession of blows. Can you imagine how their brain cells must have been reacting with their nervous system? First, they're thinking, "Oh, boy, this is what our ancestors have been looking for for centuries - we'Ve got it!" and then it hits them, this man Jesus, "Yes, uh, I do remember when I was here seven weeks ago at the feast of the Passover." You see, even Pilate knew that they did it for envy. Matt 27:18 says that. The last thing that those people who had yelled out "crucify him, crucify him" had expected was to hear that Jesus was alive - raised from the dead. So shall it be with those today who ignore Jesus as God's son. They'll be surprised, shocked at his coming either at Jesus' return or on that resurrection morning. But what effect did Peter's words have on the crowd? They crucified Jesus for envy. What will they do to Peter and these other 11 men? You know, when you bring an honest accusation against someone, they'll almost always react in one or two ways. First, they might get mad, start a riot, throw a fit, you know, and take revenge like Cain did. Cain killed Abel because Cain was not right, not because Abel was unrighteous -1 John 3:12 says that - or, on the other hand, they might just be honest and face up and say, "You know, you're right. I have sinned. What are the consequences?" There is no question about which course of action is right and honest. You see, Peter was getting to them. What will they do with that big lump in their throat? Will it explode or will they swallow it? Peter didn't miss a breath. His sermon hopped from one thunderbolt to another. Inverses 25, 26, 27 and 28, Peter appealed to Psalms 16:7-11 to make a point. Now the point is David prophesied that God would raise Christ from the grave; that he would not decay. Notice in verse 26, it sound like David might be speaking of himself. It says:
...also my flesh shall rest in hope:
In verse 27 the quote is "wilt not leave my soul in hell," or hadeas, or someone might ask the question, "Was David speaking of himself or somebody else?' Peter anticipated that question. In verses 29-36 Peter shows that it could not apply to David because David had been dead hundreds of years and they knew where his grave was located. Thus, David's body did decay. Peter says in essence, "David spake of Christ. Now the word "hell' in the King James version in verse 27 does not refer to the place of eternal punishment. The Greek word is "hadeas" which literally means "the unseen realm". Then I would assume in verse 32 Peter pointed to the other 11 apostles and said, "we are witnesses." Thus, he made his point emphatic. Peter summarized by repeating this conclusion in verse 36. Listen to it:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Thus, Peter repeated that accusation again. This was where Peter was interrupted, but before we consider that interruption, let's paraphrase the whole 23 verses of Peter's sermon one more time. Peter said essentially this:
We're not drunk. This is the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the last days. This is it. The Christ is Jesus of Nazareth. You have killed him, but God raised him again. David said it would happen. We're witnesses. David has not ascended but Jesus is - that same Jesus that you crucified.
Ok. There you have it! Peter's sermon on Pentecost - 23 verses long. Peter spake by the Holy Spirit as the Spirit gave him utterance according to verse 4.
Now what was the interruption? Let's read it in verse
37:
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and, said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

So, we learn the reaction. What shall we do? That's a good question. But it carries the admission of guilt - did you get mat? - an admission of murder! They didn't argue the question. They simply wanted to know the consequences. "What shall we do?" You might notice they asked this question to "Peter and the rest of the apostles." Thus, all of the apostles were co-equals, all were the same rank. The crowd appealed to these 12 apostles "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Can't you just hear despair in their voices? They were saying in essence, "Yes, we used the Roman government to murder Jesus, but we now understand we did wrong and what shall we do?" Do you know the penalty for murder? They must have antic ipated a very great and very far-reaching sentence. They were guilty before God. We all are to some greater or lessor extent. Romans 3:23 says "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." So, men and brethren, what shall we do? Hebrews 6:6 says we can crucify the son of God afresh, put him to an open shame. Perhaps the most important question that we can ask is, "What shall we do?" We shall consider Peter's answer in Lesson 6.

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