Whenever a crowd gathers in Acts, a believer takes the opportunity of preaching to it. Here is Peter, who a little earlier had denied Christ, now fearlessly and with crystal clarity preaching the gospel. The Day of Pentecost is the day in the church calendar when there is preaching on the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit is not the focus of Peter’s address; rather, Jesus is. Peter speaks only of the Spirit in relation to Jesus.
The big idea of this Pentecostal sermon is that Jesus was crucified, was raised to life and is now exalted to God’s right hand, and that Peter and the others are eyewitnesses of these events. Jesus was “accredited by God” (v. 22), according to the “set purpose” of God, was crucified (v. 23), and was raised from the dead. Death had no claim on Him because He had no sin (v. 24). The proof that He is exalted to God’s right hand is that He now pours out the Holy Spirit (vv. 32–33). The summary is found in verse 36.
Peter’s audience is Jewish. Therefore, he wants them to know they should not be surprised at these events because they fulfil what Joel predicted for the last days (vv. 17–21). In verses 25 to 28, Peter quotes David in Psalm 16. The words of v. 27 are extravagant—Peter says David did not use these words of himself but of one greater than David who “will not be abandoned to the grave.” The Old Testament is Peter’s reference point for the Jewish audience.
Notice also that Peter does not hesitate to be direct. In verses 23 to 24, he makes the clearest contrast between what they did to the Son in God’s name—”put him to death,” and what God Himself did—”raised him from the dead.” The response to this sermon was deep conviction (v. 37). Peter tells them they are to repent and give public witness to their repentance through baptism (v. 38). The Christian gospel involves take and give (v. 38). God takes our sin and deals with it, and then gives us His Holy Spirit. This is the ongoing offer to all those who repent and turn to Christ.
That day 3,000 accepted the message (v. 41).
Think about the twin blessings of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit in your life, and be thankful. In verse 40, Luke describes Peter as warning the crowd. Are we serious enough in sharing the gospel with others? When was the last time you were warned not to neglect the gospel’s promises and warnings? The apostles could say “We are witnesses” of the resurrection and the ascension. What can we say today?