Acts 1-2

Luke contributed two works to the New Testament, both biographical in nature. In his Gospel, Luke reported the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts, Luke provided portraits of the work of the Holy Spirit through the apostles and the early church. The earlier account dovetailed into the latter, bridged by the promise and fulfillment of power from on high coming upon the apostles—as Jesus had prophesied in Luke 24:49. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is one of the earliest examples of someone looking back to the Old Testament in light of Christ’s death and resurrection. Peter argued that the arrival of the Spirit was directly related to the death and resurrection of Christ—according to the witness of the Old Testament. Peter portrayed Scripture as a storyline that in Christ had reached its climax, signifying the dawn of the last days.

(1) In Acts 2:17-21, Peter declared that the presence of the Spirit upon those gathered in Jerusalem fulfilled Joel’s prophecy that the arrival of the Spirit would signal the last days. Joel prophesied of the day of the Lord, the time when God would intervene to destroy those who opposed Him and rescue the faithful of His people. In Joel 2, the prophet urged his audience to turn to the Lord, saying, “Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him, so you can offer grain and wine to the LORD your God” (Joel 2:14). Joel went on to prophesy that the Lord would restore the fortunes of His people, removing their disgrace in the eyes of the surrounding nations (Joel 2:19). Joel announced that the Lord would pour out His Spirit upon young, old, male, female, and slaves so that they would all proclaim God’s presence among them (Joel 2:28-32). When Peter saw the manifestations of the Spirit on those in the temple during Pentecost, his attention was drawn to Joel 2. Peter proclaimed that the Spirit’s presence confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus had been raised and then ascended to God’s right hand, pouring out the blessing of God’s Spirit. The events of Pentecost pointed back to what God had revealed of Himself in Jesus’ death and resurrection. While the Jewish leaders killed Jesus for the great acts He had performed, they could not stop God’s plan. The Spirit came upon the people of the Messiah that they might bear witness of Him (John 14:15-26; 16:5-15).

(2) In Acts 2:25-31, Peter stated that when Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus fulfilled David’s prophecy of resurrection in Ps 16:8-11. In Psalm 16, David wrote a poem of trust in the Lord’s covenant faithfulness. The psalmist concluded by predicting that the Lord would not leave his soul in Hades but show him the path of life and give him pleasure at the Lord’s right hand forever. Peter understood Psalm 16 prophetically, pointing forward to one of David’s descendants, Jesus, who would sit on David’s throne eternally (2 Sam 7:13; Luke 1:32-33).

(3) In Acts 2:34-35, Peter proclaimed that by ascending to the Father, Jesus fulfilled David’s prophecy in Ps 110:1. Psalm 110 describes the enthronement of King David. Seated at God’s right hand, the king enjoyed security and strength as God made the king victorious over his enemies so that he could serve as an eternal priest for the people. Peter reasoned that the presence of the Spirit on those in Jerusalem confirmed that Jesus was at God’s right hand, pouring out God’s blessing upon His people (Acts 2:33). Peter stated that his argument was based on Ps 110:1, “For it was not David who ascended 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’” (Acts 2:34-35). Peter’s use of Ps 110:1 cohered with Jesus’ use of the text (Matt 22:41-46//Mark 12:35-37//Luke 20:41-44) and established a frame of reference employed by the author of Hebrews (Heb 1:13; 8:1; 10:12).