Acts 2:14–4:31. Peter Preached Three Sermons.

Key Notes: Peter empowered. The blessing of Abraham is forgiveness of sins. A miracle of healing. God's sovereignty, human responsibility. Old Testament references. Jesus' names. Problems of preaching today.

Jerusalem was full of pilgrims who had come for Passover and First Fruits and stayed for Pentecost.The pilgrims knew of Palm Sunday, the Crucifixion, and had heard of the Resurrection. Pentecost is the festival of the harvest. The Holy Spirit had come upon the Upper Room believers so dramatically that many ran together to find out what had happened. Peter began to reap the harvest of souls on Pentecost.

2:14–42 Peter opened his argument by pointing out that Jews were not drunk in the morning, but that this phenomenon was the prophecy which Joel wrote eight centuries before (Joel 2:28–32): The Holy Spirit will be poured out on all flesh-- Jews and Gentiles, male and female, young and old, slave and free. The sun will be darkened and moon turned to blood before the Day of the Lord comes. And whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. {The blood-red moon, and darkened sun may have been seen at the crucifixion but the fulfillment of this prophecy awaits the final Day of the Lord.}

At once we see the offer of universal salvation. Anyone can call upon His Name and be saved.

Jesus of Nazareth did mighty deeds (mass healings), wonders (feeding 5000), and signs (walking on water). They had crucified Him but God had raised Him up. And the discples saw it. David prophesied that He would not see corruption. (Psa.16:8–11 KJV). David could not have referred to himself—he died and his tomb was in Jerusalm —but he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. And David was not exalted to Heaven but spoke of Christ: "Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your foot-stool". (Psa.110:1). So God had made the Crucified both Lord and Christ.

The assembled pilgrims were convicted and begged the Apostles for help. Peter told them to repent, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Everyone was welcomed. Three thousand responded.

2:43 They were filled with awe at the signs done by the Apostles. They shared their belongings, attended the Temple together, broke bread together, and were in general favor. New people were received every day.

3:1–10 One day Peter and John went to Temple to pray at 3PM, and were accosted by a beggar. Peter had no money but commanded him to walk in the name of Jesus, and the beggar stood up. He had a congenital abnormality of his feet and was more than 40 years old, now suddenly able to leap and walk--a healing impossible to explain naturally. We have crutches, splints, physical therapy and corrective surgery, but that work would take years.

3:11–26 A crowd gathered, much surprised at the miracle, and Peter preached on Solomon's Porch:
The God of our fathers glorified Jesus, but you preferred a murderer (Barabbas) to the Righteous One, and killed Him, the Author of Life. God raised Him up. His Name has made this cripple strong. You acted ignorantly. Now repent and be converted. Moses said God would raise up another prophet who must be obeyed under threat of judgment. (Deut.18:18–19). The promise to Abraham for a blessing (Gen.12:1–3) is to turn you from your wickedness.

4:1–12 The commotion on Temple grounds attracted the police and the Sadducees. They arrested Peter and John and ?the lame man. But many responded, and now there were 5000 male disciples (a total of perhaps 20,000). Four members of the priestly family, with rulers, elders and scribes met next day and demanded to know by what name they did this. Peter was full of the Holy Spirit and said:

Are you really objecting to a good deed done to a cripple? The Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but God raised up, the Stone you builders rejected, has made this man well. And
there is no other Name under Heaven by which we must be saved. [Acts 4:12 is a verse to memorize.]

4:13–22 Peter and John were obviously uneducated Galileans who must have been with Jesus. The officials could not argue the miracle. So they warned them not to say anything more in the name of Jesus and let them go.

4:23–31 The group then gathered in prayer so powerful that the ground shook and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
            Sovereign Lord (literally "Despot" in Greek), Maker of everything,
            All were gathered against your Holy Servant Jesus
            To do what You predestined to take place.
            Look on their threats. Grant your servants boldness.
            Stretch out your hand with signs and wonders.

Discussion:

What became of the pilgrims who had come from all over the civilized world? [A list of 15 language groups who heard the Apostles speak is in Acts 2:9–11.] By now, they would be leaving Jerusalem, taking with them the Gospel message to the ends of the civilized world. Thus, God did not wait for Paul to extend his itinerary to Rome and beyond, but His witnesses went out early and widely beyond the scope of any one person.
"...in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--" Col.l:6

This passage is rich in doctrine that the Church seems suddenly to have at its disposal. We are struck at once by seven Old Testament citations, which we suppose Jesus gave the Apostles after the Resurrection: We should all have these texts in our minds.

Through Abraham all the earth will be blessed in turning each of us from our wickedness.(3:26) with Gen.12:1–3
God will raise up a prophet like Moses and He must be obeyed. (3:22) Deut.18:18–20
Why do the nations rage against the Lord and against His Anointed? (4:25) Psa.2:1
You will not allow your Holy One to see corruption. (2:27) Psa.16:8–11
The Stone that the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone. (4:11) Psa.118:22
God will pour out the Holy Spirit on people of all kinds. (2:17) Joel 2:28–30

Another important topic is the resurrection in the OT. That David was not yet resurrected does not preclude his future privilege. Job14:14–15; Job’:25; Hos. 13:14; and Dan. 12:2 assure us of the resurrection of OT saints.

A third group of teachings is on the nature of OT Scripture.

"...this  is what was spoken by the prophet Joel, 'and in the last days it shall be, God declares'" Acts 2:16–17
"...God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets...." (Acts 3:18)
"...God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old...." (Acts 3:21)
"...who  by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, did say by the Holy Spirit...." (Acts 4:25)

The prophets say that God was speaking. We call this the doctrine of inspiration. It tells how the Bible came to be a word-based communication from God, and also establishes it as our authority.

A fourth set of teachings is on predestination and human responsibility.

"....the  scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas...." Acts 1:16
"...this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." Acts.2:23
"...I  know that you acted in ignorance as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, He thus fulfilled." Acts 3:17
"...for  truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate...to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place." Acts 4:27–28

Plainly human beings are held responsible for acts which God foreknew and foreordained. The modern presupposition that we all have free will is the obvious solution, but is not Scripturally supported. The sovereignty of God is paramount.

Names of Christ given in this text:
            Jesus of Nazareth. 2:22
            Both Lord and Christ. 2:36
            Jesus Christ of Nazareth. 3:6; 4:10
            Holy and Righteous One. 3:14
            Author of Life. 3:15
            A Prophet from your brethren. 3:2
            The Stone that was rejected by you builders. 4:11
            Jesus whom You (God) did anoint.4:27
            Holy Servant. 4:30

And they speak of the Last Days:

"...and in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." (Acts 2:17)
"...Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." (Acts 3:21)

Evidently, the last days begin with Pentecost. But rapid closure is not likely, since Jesus' immediate return is not proposed, although crucial to the end of the End Times.

Note the excellent circumstances under which Peter preached:
•It was a festival crowd from all over the Empire, staying over after Passover.
•The Holy Spirit's coming was immediate.
* All heard the sermon in their own local tongue.
•Later an excited crowd saw a notable miracle.
•The agitated leadership trying to silence the apostles.
•The crime of Jesus' crucifixion was known to all.
•All understood and respected Scripture. Baptism was a familiar concept.

Our circumstances are quite different. Religious pluralism, biblical ignorance, lack of a common vocabulary, and lack of a recent unique event all make preaching today more difficult. But we need to preach the Word from clear conviction, with boldness to denounce evil, and confidence in the Holy Spirit's work.