We’ve got a crowd gathered now. They’ve seen this rushing sound of the mighty wind, they’ve seen the tongues of fire coming on the people and now, they’re hearing them speaking in these languages, and they’re saying: what can it mean?
The sceptics say they’re drunk, but Peter gets up to say ‘they’re not drunk it’s only the first hour of the day‘, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.
He quotes from the Book of Joel chapter 2. If you go to Joel chapter 2 in your Bible, you’ll find this quote pretty much as it is here, in Acts. Interestingly, in Joel chapter 2, it speaks about something which happened, it says, in the last days.
In Joel chapter 2.28 (corresponds to Acts 2.17) it actually says ahare ken (אַֽחֲרֵי־ כֵ֗ן) which means ‘afterward’.
Something can happen after something else. In Joel’s prophecy, it says they’re is going to be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh to be accompanied by prophecy, dreams, and visions, signs and wonders.
This is actually going to lead to the day of the Lord in Acts verse 20 (corresponds to Joel 2.31). It speaks about time of the sun being turned to darkness the moon to blood before the coming of the great and awesome Day of the Lord.
If you know your Bible prophecy, you’ll know that the sun turning to darkness and the moon turning to blood are two of the signs of the end of days, the Day of the Lord, which itself corresponds to the Second Coming of Jesus.
It is interesting to note that the Book of Joel actually speaks of what happens afterward as being an invasion of Israel by a northern army (Joel 2.20)
Joel chapter 3 speaks about armies of the world coming together against Israel for the final battle which itself corresponds to the passages in the Old Testament concerning the time of Jacob’s Trouble and the end of days.
Therefore, Joel is saying that, at this time of trouble, which comes at the end of days, there is going to be this outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the people of Israel.
What’s that got to do with Acts chapter 2?
Peter doesn’t say this is ‘the total fulfilment of Joel‘s prophecy’, he says: ‘this is the kind of thing Joel was speaking about’.
In other words, when you see what’s happening now, you’re seeing something which Joel had prophesied would happen at the end of days. It’s happening now in fact, in the context of Joel‘s prophecy, this outpouring of the Spirit is going to come at the end of this dispensation, before the Millennial Kingdom.
But Peter is saying that now it’s coming at the beginning of this dispensation, as we witness the birth of the Christian church. You’re seeing the same thing that Joel spoke about happening, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit which would affect sons and daughters, male and female, young men and old men. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, male or female, if you have flesh, this Spirit is going to be poured out upon you.
It’s going to come upon people and it’s going to be something which will cause a revelation of God, visions, dreams, prophecy and all these things taking place and I’m going to pour out my Spirit upon those people in those days.
Peter is saying now that a similar event is taking place at the beginning of this dispensation as the Holy Spirit reveals the Messiah in a deeper way to his Jewish disciples.
You’re going to be baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit. This is going to enable them to communicate the Gospel with power to the end of the world, beginning in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
It’s also setting off the dispensation of grace in which we now live, which will be mediated by the Holy Spirit, through the church (ekklesia), meaning ‘the called out ones’.
So that means that you and I who are ‘the called out ones’, are also in line for receiving the Holy Spirit into our lives.
Peter then, having explained this bit from the Book of Joel, then gives his main message which is not about the Holy Spirit but about Jesus.
So, how come he goes from the Holy Spirit to Jesus?
Well, I said to you earlier that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is actually to point people to Jesus. It’s also to convict them of sin and righteousness, and judgment, and to lead them into the Truth.
Now, the Truth is that Jesus has just died and risen from the dead. The Truth is that Jesus is the One who’s going to set you free from sin and is, if you repent and believe the Gospel, the One who is going to allow you to enter into new life in Jesus, and, through Him, we can have forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
Peter then gives a message which is meant to convict them of sin, that they’re sinners, and that they need to repent. He speaks to them of righteousness, that there’s a standard of righteousness which God has set for us and which we fail to keep. And that we need a Saviour to bring us to salvation. And, also, of judgment, that there’s a day of judgment coming when we’ll all stand before God in judgment, and the way to be saved on that day is to believe in Jesus.
So he speaks to his own people. He says ‘Men of Israel‘, I’m going to tell you about Jesus. He performed signs and wonders among you. He has already done signs which show you that He is the Messiah. These signs and wonders testify to you of the fact that He is the Son of God, the Messiah. No one else could do them. He’s risen, raised from the dead. He has healed the sick; He has walked on the water; He has provided supernatural food, He has done all kinds of things which no one man could do, which demonstrate that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. You should have believed in Him, but your leaders have turned you against Him and many of them took Him by wicked hands and put Him to death, and crucified Him.
Remember this is 50th day after the crucifixion, it’s in Jerusalem where the crucifixion took place. You can imagine that if a large crowd has gathered together, amongst that large crowd there would be people who had called for the death of Jesus or who had been responsible for it. So, Peter is speaking directly to people who had their hand in the action which put Jesus on the cross.
He’s not saying that all Jews are guilty of the death of Jesus, he’s saying that there are people here who are guilty of the death of Jesus but that, although this was done by wicked hands, it was also determined by the counsel of God. It was God’s will that Jesus should die and it is possible, even for people who were responsible for the death of Jesus, to repent and to believe.
In one sense, all of us are actually responsible for the death of Jesus because all of us are sinners and Jesus died for our sins. So, Peter is saying here to people who were responsible: ‘believe in Jesus and be saved, remember that it was the will of God that Jesus died‘.
Isaiah 53 verse 10 says:
It was God’s will that Jesus died and that He should be put to death, and that He should rise from the dead, and that He should then see His seed, the seed of those who are born of His Spirit. He’ll see those who believe in Him. He will prolong His days forever because He is God.
In John 10, Jesus said:
Jesus voluntarily laid down His life in order to redeem us. And God raised Him up. As Peter says: He loosed the pains of death.
From Peter’s point of view, the resurrection is a fact, it’s a fact because he has seen Jesus alive, it’s happened; it had to happen. And Peter goes on to say that it’s not possible that death could hold Him.
Have you thought about that? It’s actually not possible that Jesus could remain dead.
Why is it not possible that Jesus could remain dead?
Well, because Jesus is God, He has always existed, He always will exist. He’s ‘from eternity to eternity’. So, if you put the body in which He was incarnated to death, that body cannot remain dead, because Jesus is always alive.
Remember the last words that Jesus said on the cross in Luke’s Gospel:
The body died but the Spirit was committed into the hands of the Father. And it was not possible that He could remain dead, so the Spirit came back into the body and Jesus rose from the dead: the great miracle which assures us that we too, if we believe in Him, will rise from the dead and have eternal life.
Peter says that this is an event which happens and conforms to the words of the prophets.
He quotes from David, from Psalm 16 and says that Jesus’ soul would not be left in Hades (Sheol in Hebrew). The authorized version translates it as ‘Hell’.
Some people say it’s a compromise to say ‘Hades’, that it should be ‘Hell’ but, actually, it shouldn’t be ‘Hell’ or it shouldn’t be ‘Hell’ in the sense of Gehenna.
There’s a difference in two Greek words in the New Testament. One is Gehenna which means ‘Hell’: the place of eternal suffering, the place where the damned go, where you are eternally separated from God. There’s also a word ‘Sheol‘ which means the place of the dead in Hebrew and ‘Hades’ which means the place of the dead in Greek.
As I understand it, Jesus did not go to ‘Hell’ (Gehenna). There are some who teach that Jesus went to ‘Hell’ to be tormented for three days and nights, and then was born again in Hell. That’s a false teaching; it’s not what the Bible says.
Jesus’ Spirit went to God the Father. Where exactly He went to, were not actually told, but His Spirit returned to the body on the third day.
Peter says that the Holy one could not see corruption.
Anyone else could be left in the place of the dead and David himself, as a man, would have his body remaining in the grave. None of us are holy, so, we will see corruption. Our bodies, if the Lord doesn’t come first and we’re not taking to be with Him in the Rapture, will rot in the ground. Our Spirit will return to God either for eternal life or eternal death and damnation.
Peter explains that David who wrote these words, is dead and buried. His body remains in the tomb, yet David himself knew by the Spirit of prophecy, which was in him, that God will bring the Messiah. And that the Messiah would be alive, as far as David is concerned, as the fruit of his body.
David also knew that Jesus would come as the Messiah Son of David, descending from David, destined to sit on David’s throne.
Therefore, the resurrection must happen and did happen to Jesus. We know that He was literally put to death, that He was buried and that, on the third day, He rose again.
It had to happen. Jesus had to die in order for our sins to be forgiven, and to rise from the dead, to appear to the disciples for 40 days. Then, 10 days before this event (Pentecost), to ascend to Heaven and to send the Holy Spirit into the world as He promised.
One aspect of this, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit taking place, is the fact that Peter is now standing in Jerusalem preaching this Gospel publicly to a large audience of at least 3,000 people, probably more, because not everyone would have accepted what he said.
Roughly 53 days earlier, Peter had stood in Jerusalem, in the court of the High Priest and denied that he knew Jesus in front of a serving maid.
What happened to change Peter from that cowardly man who said he didn’t even know Jesus, to be able to stand up here and boldly proclaim that Jesus is Lord and that you must repent and believe the Gospel, believe in Jesus?
Well, two things happened:
- He has seen Jesus risen from the dead, and
- He had now been filled with the Holy Spirit
Being filled with the Holy Spirit, he was able to preach this Gospel and to tell people the Truth about Jesus, and to tell them what they should do.
They then are convicted when Peter says: