The pangs of death could not hold Christ. 2:22-36


After the pentecostal experience of tongue-speaking, Peter sets out to preach to the gathered crowd. First, he answers the charge of drunkenness and then gives witness to Jesus' resurrection, linking this to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The passage

v22-24. Jesus' "mighty works", or more rightly, "powerful signs of the kingdom", demonstrate the "finger of God" imposing them upon the people of Israel, and thus proclaiming the inevitable truth that "the kingdom of God has come upon you", Lk.11:20. Indeed, "God has visited his people", Lk.7:16. Yet, God's chosen-one was handed over to "wicked men", ie. those apart from the Law and covenants - pagan Rome. So, the messiah suffered, as it was foreordained he would. Yet, a higher court overturned the court of pagan Rome and reversed its death-sentence; it is not possible for death to hold the messiah. As it was ordained that messiah would suffer, so it was ordained that he would enter glory. This he did by rising from the dead.

v25-28. Psalm 16:8-11. Peter uses this Psalm of David as a text in support of Jesus' fulfillment of the messiah's promised deliverance from death.

v29-32. Peter notes that David saw decay, his tomb being near Siloam for all to see. One of his descendents must take the throne of God's eternal kingdom, and obviously that descendent is Jesus, the one whose body did not suffer decay (for God raised him up). To this, Peter and the other disciples are witnesses.

v33-35. This Christ has now ascended on high to take his throne at the right hand of God, receiving from the Father the right and power to pour out the Spirit on the children of God. In this way he fulfills the words of Psalm 110:1. He serves as the Davidic king who sits at the right hand of God. He is the exalted messiah, ruler over heaven and earth. This fact is evidenced in the pentecostal experience of ecstatic prophecy (tongue speaking) just witnessed by the crowd.

v36. Peter finally gets to the punch line: Jesus is both Christ and Lord. He was "declared to be the Son of God with power .... by the resurrection from the dead", Rom.1:4. Not only is Jesus the Christ (ie. the long-awaited Davidic messiah), but he is Lord. The term "Lord" was often used in the sense of "Sir" - a title of respect. Yet, for an Old Testament Jew it was the "name above every name", the name of God himself - The Lord, Adonai. The reality of Jesus' status, authority and power, announces the dawning of the kingdom. The kingdom is now. It is the day when "all peoples on earth will be blessed", it is the day of "salvation". Peter's call to "repent and believe the gospel" follows in v37-41.

Simple news

The children in the auditorium sat watching the chalk-talk. Card tricks and puppet and now a quick-sketch demo guaranteed attention. The message was a typical gospel presentation. In summary: "we are all sinners and therefore under the judgement of God. Jesus died to pay the penalty of our sin. If we believe in Jesus, our sin will be forgiven and we will not face judgement." Of course, as is always the case, a forensic exposition of the cross can leave both children and adults confused. At least the card tricks were great!

The gospel preaching of Moody, and in our day, Billy Graham, often focused on the atonement. Today, evangelical Christians still see the atonement as the substance of the gospel. When the Australian evangelist John Chapman developed his Dialogue Evangelism presentation based on Acts 17, he would often face the question, "what about the blood?" Few seem to realize that the gospels themselves say little about the atonement; the reason for Jesus' death is hardly ever mentioned. The doctrine of the atonement is a substantial truth in that it explains the workings of our salvation, but it is not the gospel, it's not God's important message to lost humanity.

The word gospel means important news. When the word is used in the Bible, it means important news from God. The important news is that God's long-promised kingdom is here and now. News about a coming kingdom makes little impact on modern ears. When Peter speaks of the coming kingdom he simply makes the point that wicked people may have crucified Jesus, but God did not allow the grave to hold him. Raised and ascended to glory, Jesus now reigns. He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords and on the basis of his divine authority we can live eternally in the presence of God, and this for the asking.

So there we have it, since you can't keep a good man down, Jesus is now enthroned in glory, the new age has dawned. Do you want to be part of it? Just ask Jesus!


Imagine doing a gospel chalk-talk to a group of children. Try the usual atonement presentation, and then a Jesus is Lord approach. Compare and discuss.

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