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An Exegetical Summary of Acts 2:22-36
Exegetical Worksheet—Acts 2:22-36
(1) Preliminary Statement - Luke writes that Peter was acknowledging that there were volumes of witnessed evidence during Jesus’ life that He was the Christ. Luke included that while Jesus’ death was predetermined by God; the people were still responsible for the act. Luke completes his argument by establishing that King David’s own words pointed to the fact that David was not the Messiah, because the grave held David, but because Jesus could not be bound by the grave, He most certainly is the Christ.
- Micro-Context - The context of this selection is the heart of Peter’s sermon immediately following the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples. As they began speaking in languages of the different nationalities represented there, some bystanders scoffed and claimed they were drunk. In response to the crowd and the crowd’s confusion, Peter began to explain that everybody was witnessing fulfillment of scripture in Joel 2:28-32. Since this crowd would have been observant Jews and in town for the Feast of Weeks, they would have readily recognized the reference. Peter then gave this message about Jesus, who He was, how He was the ultimate fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and concluded stating that Jesus was the Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit then moved in the hearts of the hearers and they became believers right there. The chapter ends with the fellowship and discipleship of the early church.
- Macro-Context of Acts – These select verses relate to the first 4 chapters of Acts in many ways. From a quick read through, the reader sees that Luke records Peter using many references to Old Testament writing, to be sure that the audience understands that Jesus fulfilled all of what had been written long before He was born. Luke records Peter’s Old Testament references in 1:20, 2:17-21, 2:25-28, 2:34-35, 3:23, 3:25, 4:11, and 4:26. This point is important because the hearer of this sermon, being 1st century Jews, would have been familiar with the writings that Peter was referring to in his sermon. The verse selection also relates to the appearance of the Holy Spirit and His using Peter at Pentecost to grow the church to 3000 men (women and children were not included in the count) and 2,000 more in the next few days. Luke also was led to correlate the boldness of Peter with being filled with the Holy Spirit not only in front of a crowd of people, but also in front of the Temple leaders. Luke records these multiple fillings of the Holy Spirit. Luke evidences that the Holy Spirit refills believers when asked and when needed. Luke records the Holy Spirit filling the disciples in Acts 2:4, and he also records this in Acts 4:8 and 4:31.
- Context of the OT – There are four references to Old Testament writing in this selection. The first is found in verses 25-28 and 31, which correlate to Psalm 16:8-11, the second is found in verse 30 which correlates to Psalm 132:11, and the third is found in verses 35-36 which relate to Psalm 110:1. For the first Old Testament reference, we see verses 25-28 and verse 31, referring to Psalm 16:8-11. It is a psalm of David while he was in trouble. David was most certainly God’s “Holy one” at that time, and certainly David’s soul would not be left to the grave, but David was speaking about more than himself, He was speaking about Jesus, who the grave could not touch and would see no decay. This passage shows a fulfillment of prophecy, but also showed how Peter would use reason to prove his point. His point is so easy to understand. David was a man after God’s own heart; the audience would know David’s writing. Peter used that to his advantage while witnessing to the crowd, and showed the true meaning of David’s words which had been written one thousand years prior, that they were indeed speaking of Jesus. The grave was empty, there was no decaying body of Jesus, but King David’s tomb was something people could see and walk by. The second reference in verse 30 points back to Psalm 132:11, promising David that his lineage would produce a King that would sit on the throne forever. Given the publicly known lineage of Jesus, this would have been another fact that Peter would use in his sermon and Luke would record to further drive the issue of Jesus qualifications to be the Christ. The third Old Testament reference is in verses 35-36 which relate to Psalm 110:1. Psalm 110 is again a Psalm written by King David and is certainly specific to the coming Messiah. Its language is overtly prophetical, and speaks of the King of Salem that Abraham gave a tithe in Genesis 14:18, after rescuing Lot from being kidnapped by hostile forces. It also points out that this priest is not in the order of Levi, the priestly line, but the order of Melchizedek. Because this Psalm is so specific to the Christ, Peter was making it very clear that he was tying Jesus to this prophecy and here again that the audience would be very familiar with this reference. This prophesy was also pointing not only to the 1st century, but also to end times and Jesus’ return. Jesus will sit at the right hand of the Father until the enemies of God are made to be a footstool for Jesus.
(3) Lexical Analysis:
“Attested” (Acts 2:22)
- Analyze other uses in Luke-Acts – Luke writes that in Peter’s sermon he used the word attested / approved (Greek word apodeiknymi) to affirm that Jesus was the Savior that God sent for us. This word is only found in 2 different verses in Acts, and none in Luke. It is used in Acts 2:22 and again in Acts 25:7.
i. Acts 2:22: attested is used to show God’s favor on His son Jesus, and that God showed or exemplified that Jesus was the Christ because of the miracles, wonders and signs that Jesus did in God’s name.
ii. Acts 25:7: the word is used to seemingly denote admissible evidence. The Jews levied many complaints against Paul, but out of all the finger pointing and accusations, nothing they said against Paul was proven.
- Analyze the assessment of the word in a critical commentary - In The Interpreter’s Bible, Macgregor speaks to this word specifically. Macgregor points out that the Greek word means “proclaimed or appointed to office” denoting that Jesus was the elected Messiah while He was here on Earth. He also points out though, that the western text was translated a bit differently by Tertullian, and that word translates differently to mean that Jesus was the Messiah-elect, or Jesus did not actually become the Messiah until after his ascension.
- c. Analyze the word in light of steps a & b and in light of its context – I find this word to be key, because Luke used the same word later that denotes evidence, to also show that God himself gave plenty of evidence to the people, to show them His son was actually the Messiah and that He had God’s favor. I think Peter used and Luke recorded this word to again tell the hearer that there was no excuse for not seeing who Jesus actually was while He was here during His earthly ministry.
(4) Grammatical Analysis – Verse 24: “but” - Jesus came to the Hebrews, and lived out God’s plan. The Jews, along with people not under the law, put Him to death, but God raised Him up. The conjunction “but” in verse 24 shows that no matter what men try to do, they cannot change God’s plan. No matter how hard the world will try to thwart God’s plan, His perfect plan will always prevail. Verse 30 uses the words “and so” to tie David’s psalm to actually show that David was prophesying about Jesus Christ. Luke goes on to show this further in verse 33 using “therefore”. This is concluding that while David was merely human and mortal, Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God the Father. Peter was building his sermon as he went along, with each new section buiding on the previous statements. Luke records him building to a final “therefore” in verse 36. Peter uses all of his previous arguments to build to a final crescendo showing that everything he had covered in the first part of his sermon was more attestation or evidence that ultimately pointed to the fact that Jesus is both Lord and Christ who the Jews killed, but who also offers forgiveness and salvation.
(5) Historical-Considerations – with so many Old Testament references, there couldn’t help but be historical considerations in these passages. First, the audience would have needed to know the Old Testament writings that Peter was speaking of. Given the fact that 3,000 were saved and baptized then, I would say it is safe to assume they connected the dots that Peter laid out concerning Jesus. This was also at Pentecost, which was the Jewish fest that was celebrated 50 days after Passover. Pentecost is called the Feast of Weeks and was one of the 3 festivals that Jews were supposed to come to Jerusalem for, during the year. Since not only local Jews but also Diaspora Jews would be there, there were a massive amount of foreigners there to take part in his festival, which is why the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to communicate in so many different languages. In Genesis at Babel, God confused the languages so the people would scatter and combine in small groups with a common language. Here at Pentecost, God did the opposite; taking all the different languages and making all peoples there understand the same message, of Salvation in His son Jesus.
(6) Theological Analysis:
- Soteriology - Using this passage, Peter is clear that Salvation is found in Jesus. He is the one promised through the line of David that would sit on the throne and rule forever. Jesus is exalted above all others, and is the only one that God has attested and made Lord and Christ.
- Pneumatology - This passage details the realization of the promises of both Jesus (promising the arrival of the “comforter”) and from God the Father. Peter says the Holy Spirit did everything that the audience saw and heard. This would lead to the understanding that through the Holy Spirit, all things are possible, from speaking in unfamiliar languages at random times to call people to salvation, to empowering a fisherman to give an eloquent sermon in front of so many people.
- Eschatology - This passage points to the fulfillment of prophecies of Jesus’ return. God will not abandon us to Hades, and because of Jesus’ obedience to God’s plan, God exalted him to His right hand, God has made Jesus Lord over everything, and in the end times God will make Jesus’ enemies a footstool for Jesus’ feet.
- Christology - Jesus performed miracles, wonders and signs, and He did this surrounded by people and in full view of everyone and did it in God’s power, for God’s glory. Jesus also did this in full obedience to the will of God. Because of Jesus obedience and perfect submission, he was not abandoned to Hades.
(7) Final Exegetical Statement – Jesus, in perfect submission to God’s will, lived and acted in God’s power, and was obedient to death by crucifixion. Because of Jesus’ sinless life, God raised Him from the dead and then exalted Him to His Throne in Heaven. He will reign forever on the throne where the victory over His enemies is already promised.
(8) Application – Our lives should have enough evidence to attest to our continued filling of the Holy Spirit. Are we showing the boldness of Peter and John in our lives, in active submission to the will of the Holy Spirit in us, and are we regularly praying for repeated fillings of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
Clinton. 2002. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary
1952. The Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol 9, Acts, Romans
Biblestudytools.com – The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon - www.biblestudytools.com/interlinear-bible/