from another perspective
by: Tim Kelley
June 18, 2014
"You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand... 11 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God ..."
ESV Deuteronomy 16:9-11
The festival of Pentecost is the second of the three “pilgrimage” festivals of Leviticus 23. It gets its name – “Pentecost” (the 50th day) to the Christians, and “Shavuot” (weeks) to the Jews – from the fact that it is the only festival that is counted from another Biblical event – the Wave Sheaf offering, or to the Jews - the Wave Omer offering. According to Jewish tradition, Pentecost is the day YHVH, the God of Israel, took her as His betrothed bride and established her as a nation.1.
After that event at Mount Sinai, other than to mention the offerings associated with it 2, Pentecost is never again mentioned by name outside the Torah3 until Acts 2, where – according to greater Christianity, it took on a new role – becomming the “birthday of the Church. Thus we have statements such as this from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
“The Feast of Pentecost, celebrated the fiftieth day after Easter, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the birth of the Church.”4
Or this from a Sabbath-keeping Christian denomination:
“Jesus Christ founded the New Testament Church in the city of Jerusalem on the biblical festival of Pentecost 50 days after His resurrection from the dead.”5
But is that really the case?6 Did the “church” begin in the 1st century? Did God start something new on Pentecost? Did He abandon Israel and begin a new work with a different group of people – the Gentiles. What was the message Peter was attempting to convey, and why did he use the specific passages we find recorded by Luke in Acts 2? What is the real meaning of the Acts 2 event, and what does it mean for Christians and Jews then and today?
I believe we can better understand what happened that day by gaining a better understanding of the prophecies and the psalms Peter quoted in his Pentecost message and putting them into the context of the first century Jewish people.
This study will investigate the events of the first Pentecost festival after the resurrection of Messiah Yeshua. In it we’ll touch on the role of Peter within the congregation of the believers, then investigate the prophecies and the psalms he used to establish his point and consequently move 3000 people to make a monumental change in their lives.
Let’s begin by taking a brief look at Peter’s background since he, of course, was the central figure of the day.
Though John is the disciple that Yeshua loved7, Peter was the one who probably loved Yeshua, and His message, the most. Peter had a zeal and the desire to get things done, and consequently became one of the leading, if not the leading disciple. He and his brother Andrew were probably quite familiar with Yeshua from His days as a child and young adult because the first time we see him in scripture we see him loaning his boat to Yeshua as a platform from with to teach His multitude of followers.
ESV Luke 5:1 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
Later that day, and as a result of a great catch of fish, Peter, along with his brother and a couple of friends gave up fishing and began to follow Yeshua, becoming some of His first disciples. Peter probably enjoyed the promise of excitement, and possibly the notoriety that might come from being associated with such an intriguing rabbi, and thus we find Peter’s name in many of the famous stories surrounding Yeshua’s life, including –
- Walking on water
- The Transfiguration
- The Temple Tax question
- The Olivet prophecy
- Yeshua’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
- Cutting of the servant’s ear
- The empty tomb
- Swimming the length of a football field to see the resurrected Messiah, then (singlehandedly it appears) pulling a net ashore with 153 fish in it.
There were also moments of notoriety that Peter had probably wished had not been recorded. For instance –
- His refusal to let Yeshua wash his feet
- His denial of Yeshua at the trial
- Yeshua’s rebuke of him at Caesarea Philippi
From the accounts of Peter’s actions and verbal exchanges with Yeshua, it’s clear that he was willing to step out of the box, and to even challenge Yeshua at times, yet he was deeply repentant when chastised. Never-the-less, it was Peter who recognized that Yeshua was different . . . He was not the normal Jewish rabbi. Thus when asked, Peter exclaimed –
"You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
. . . and because of his understanding of the Messiah combined with his zeal for the kingdom, Yeshua responded -
ESVMatthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Peter is the disciple that Yeshua chose to get the ball rolling in regards to fulfilling the job for which the disciples were called - the rebuilding of the congregation of Israel and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth.8 The Kingdom of God was the focus of Yeshua’s teaching, and thus it would also be the focus of His disciples. Thus it was appropriate that when Yeshua announced that He was about to depart to His father, and knowing that they were just days from Shavuot, the festival that commemorate Israel becoming a people and a nation, they assumed that He would be returning quickly to re-establish the Kingdom of Israel on earth. So they asked -
ESVActs 1:6 . . . "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
I believe they had fully expected Yeshua to return on Shavuot, but Yeshua’s answer dampened their expectations. Thus we see Peter taking on a leadership position and making preparations for the long haul - encouraging his fellow disciples to choose a replacement for Judas so they can move forward with the message they’d been given.
With Peter’s background in mind, let’s begin to delve into Acts 2 to discover the intent of his message, remembering that the focus of this study is the prophecies, not necessarily all the details all that happened that day.
Luke’s account begins with the statement –
NKJ Acts 2:1-11 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8" And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?9"Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 "Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 "Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." "
There are a few things we’ll want to notice here to help us understand the setting of Peter’s message. First - Luke makes the statement that Pentecost had “fully come”. Why did Luke include the words “fully come” in reference to the festival? Though the only other festival he references in his writings is Passover, he never indicates that it had “fully come”. I believe he wrote “fully come” because of the Shavuot controversy that was being argued between the Pharisees and the Saduccees, with one group claiming that the festival occurred a few days earlier than the other.
The Greek word for “fully come” is “sumpleroo” (Strong’s 4845), and it means “to fill completely”. It comes from the root word “pleroo” (Strong’s 4137) which means “to make full” or to “fill to the full”. This could be Luke’s way of showing which way the disciples had determined was correct, and this – of course – would have been the way Yeshua had shown by His observance of the festival.
Another point is that “they were all with one accord”. Who is the “they” in this passage? Is it the 3000 + who were gathered that day, or was it just the disciples. As we go on we’ll attempt to answer this question. A hint at who “they” are may be found in the meaning of the words “all accord”, which is the Greek word – “homothumadon” (Strong’s 3661) and comes from root words (3674 & 2372) which mean “together” and “passion”. Thayer’s commentary makes this interesting comment –
“Homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning to "rush along" and "in unison". The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ's church.” 9
Though the text may be referring to twelve or 3012, they were all a little different, yet they all they all had something to add.
We also find that they were all in “one place”. This Greek word that’s used is “autos” (Strong’s 846) and means “by themselves”. This indicates that they were not a part of a larger group, but were instead, meeting together as a separate group. Where they were meeting is debatable. Some believe they were meeting on the Temple mount, referring to the phrase “the house” which in some Tnakh passages does indeed mean “the Temple”, but Luke generally says “hhe Temple” when he means the Temple. Never-the-less, I doubt they were in the “upper room” since wherever they were meeting would have had to be large enough to accommodate well over 3000 individuals.
The people in attendance were for the most part Jewish immigrants from different nations. The Greek word “katoikeo” (Strong’s 2730) implies they were settlers. The Greek also indicates that they were separating themselves from the nations of their origin – maybe even fleeing10. The reason for this is unclear, but maybe they had immigrated to Jerusalem thinking that Yeshua was soon going to begin the hoped for revolution and restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, which the prophets had indicated would begin at Jerusalem. As we’ll soon see, it’s likely these very same immigrants ultimately returned to their respective homelands where they would be instrumental in establishing believing synagogues which would later host the likes of Peter, James, and Paul.
In addition to the immigrants from the various nations, Luke shows that visitors from Rome - both Jews and proselytes – were in attendance.
Luke calls these people “devout men”. The Greek word is “eulabes” (Strong’s 2126) which comes from root words that mean “well received” and “separate”. This same Greek word is used in the LXX11 to translate “nazar” (נָזַר – Strong’s 5144). “Nazar” means “separate, consecrate, dedicate” and is the root word of “Nazarite”. “Separate” is also the meaning of the Hebrew word “parshim” which is translated Pharisee. Thus some in attendance may have very well been of the sect of the Pharisees.12
As to the meaning of the rushing wind, tongues of fire, and hearing in different languages . . . these seem to resemble phenomena that were present when Israel gathered at Mount Sinai 1500 years earlier, but that’s not the topic of this study. What we do know is that at least some people were filled with the Holy Spirit. How many? Let’s take a look.
The text says that “. . . they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues”. Thus all that were filled with the Holy Spirit were also speaking with other tongues. A person being filled with the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) is not necessarily outwardly discernable, but speaking in other languages would be. The text says that the crowd asked “are not all these who speak Galileans?” Since we know that Yeshua’s disciples came from the region of the Galilee, it’s probable that they were the ones who were speaking and thus they were the ones filled with the Spirit. We’ll also see that the crowd that had assembled was composed of those who had followed Yeshua, and that they may have been hoping to hear word of what had happened since He was resurrected.
Before leaving this section I’ll share one more point, that being that it’s apparent Peter was not the only person who spoke that morning, but that the other disciples had already spoken. We can only speculate on what they had said, but I suspect it had something to do with the Kingdom of God since that was the central theme of Yeshua’s teaching. Because he only recorded Peter’s message, it’s evident that Luke believed the most important thing that happened that day was Peter’s message.
Continuing with the text . . .
NKJ Acts 2:12-15 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, " Whatever could this mean?" 13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine." 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 " For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day."
The crowd is perplexed and asks the question “what does this mean”. Peter, knowing he has the answer begins to explain . He told the audience to “heed” his words using a Greek word that is equivalent to the Hebrew word “shema”, then begins to do the same thing he was trained to do – teach. Teaching is the way YHVH intended to get His message out. Yeshua began very early in His ministry training his disciples to teach by sending them out two-by-two. When He sent them out, He confirmed their words with signs.
NKJ Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.
Later, the apostles continued in this same pattern -
NKJActs 14:3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands
One of the first pieces of information Peter brings out is often overlooked - that being that the time was the third hour of the day – about 9:00 AM. Though he used it as evidence that the disciples were not drunk, we also understand it to be the time of the morning sacrifice. It’s interesting to note that many important Biblical events happened at this time of day. Peter’s message would be another important event.
He continues by quoting from the prophets.
NKJ Acts 2:16-21 "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.'"
This is a quote from Joel 2:28 through the first part of verse 32. It’s quoted out of the LXX.
In the Judaism of the 1st century it was common for a teacher to quote a portion of scripture, expecting his audience to understand the context of the entire passage. I believe this is the case with Peter as well. The book of Joel is set in “day of the Lord” . . . the end times. The prophet contrasts that day to a recent plague of locusts that had devastated the crops throughout Judea. The first 27 verses of chapter 2 are a call to repentance for all Israel and they actually spell out what YHVH is going to do as pictured by the three fall festivals – Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. It includes a promise to “remove from you the northern army” (vs. 20) which the Jews would understand to be the Romans. Chapter 3 spells out how YHVH will avenge his people and begin to gather back those who had been scattered throughout the nations. Verse 27 states that the supernatural events that are to happen are so that, “. . . you (Israel) will know that I, YHVH your God, am in the midst of Israel”.
Peter’s quote includes the prophecy of supernatural events happening in the heavens and on the earth; events similar to what the believers may have witnessed during Yeshua’s ministry, subsequent death, and resurrection. These include the sun being darkened, graves being opened, miraculous catches of fish, and many others. And as we saw earlier, they were also witnessing a number of Jewish people returning to the land. All these would lead one to believe the end was near.
It was within this context of these signs, wonders, and miracles that Joel prophesied YHVH would pour out His spirit. Yeshua’s believers would understand that the source of that spirit was to be Yeshua himself since it was He who 9 months earlier at the Feast of Tabernacles made this statement –
NKJ John 7:37-38 "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
According to John, the believers understood this to literally mean the return of the Holy Spirit. In fact they responded to His proclamation with statements questioning whether Yeshua was “the prophet” or even the promised Messiah.
Peter concluded his quote with the first part of Joel 2:32 –
“And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
The Greek word for “saved” in this passage is “soza” (Strong’s 4982) which is a somewhat general term, but is most often translated in the New Testament in passages that indicate eminent doom especially in regards to the “birthpains”, or in church-speak – “tribulation”. In the LXX this form is used in passages like –
NKJ Psalm 33:16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
NKJ Ezekiel 17:18 'Since he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and in fact gave his hand and still did all these things, he shall not escape.' "
NKJ Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob's trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.
Joel 2:32 in the LXX uses the same Greek form. That form translates the Hebrew word “malat” (מָלַט – Strong’s 4422), a word that means “to slip away, escape, be delivered”. Malat is first used in scripture in Genesis 19:17 where Lot is told to flee to the mountains from the impending destruction of Sodom.
What we can see so far from Joel’s prophecy is that supernatural phenomena including signs in the heavens, inspired utterances (prophecy), and the return of the Holy Spirit would all precede the “birth pains”, and that those who believe on the deliverer will be rescued from the calamity. What’s more, these signs would prove that YHVH had been in their midst.
History points out that many of the Jewish believers did indeed heed this warning as well as Yeshua’s Olivet prophecy warning (Matthew 24:16), and thus saved themselves and their families from the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.
But Peter doesn’t stop here. He goes on to state that the deliverer spoken of in the Joel prophecy has been put to death.
NKJ Acts 2:22-23 " Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know -- 23 " Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;"
First, I want to point out that the Bible translators, in their effort to pin the guilt of Yeshua’s death on the Jews, interjected the pronoun “you” into the translation, but the Greek pronoun “humeis” (Strong’s 5210) does not appear in this passage. Peter’s audience was not antagonistic toward Yeshua, they were believers – they had followed Him and were well aware of His life, death, and resurrection. They were looking to Him as their Messiah, not their enemy. Thus they would certainly not been a part of the conspiracy to put Him to death. Though “humeis” does not appear in this passage, it does appear in verse 36 which is directed at “the house of Israel”. 13
You will recall that Peter started quoting the Joel prophecy at verse 28, but that verse 27 shows that one of the purposes for the prophecy was to show that YHVH had been in their midst. Peter is now going to make the point that Yeshua was that deliverer who had been in their midst. The Greek word “meso” (Strong’s 3319) is translated “midst” in both the Joel passage as well as here. Peter tells the audience that “you yourselves” are witnesses to the great works of the Messiah – the same great works as described in Joel, thus He’s the deliverer, but . . . He’s been put to death.
This creates a problem. The Jewish people never expected their Messiah to die. In fact, the death of “a Messiah” would have indicated that he indeed was not the Messiah. Never-the-less, Yeshau – in the weeks between His last Feast of Tabernacles and His sacrifice as the Passover lamb, began to talk about his imminent death. This, of course, confused His Jewish followers -
NKJ John 12:33-34 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die. 34 The people answered Him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?"
Yeshua obviously did die, but He was later resurrected, and it’s the resurrection that Peter, along with the other 11 disciples, were to be witnesses of. This is what they were called to be –
NKJ Acts 1:21-22 21 "Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 "beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."
The resurrection of the Messiah – the deliverer that had been in their midst – is not dead, but alive . . . and this is the point Peter is making . . . and he used a prophecy of David to make it.
NKJ Acts 2:24-28 24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.'"
Peter quoted from Psalm 16:8-11 using the LXX. In this passage, David talks about the hope of those who follow after the God of Israel as opposed to those who worship idols. In this passage, which is written in the first person, David states that his body would not remain in the grave, and that it would not experience decay. Then he explains –
NKJ Acts 2:29-32 29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32" This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses."
David was not writing about himself, but because YHVH had promised him an everlasting kingdom14, and because he had faith in God’s promises, he (David) prophesied that a descendant of his would become king and that HIS kingdom would last forever; thus if he were killed, he would be resurrected.
Then Peter states emphatically – you are all witnesses of this resurrection.
As I mentioned earlier, Peter quoted from Psalm 16:8-11. Of course, when he quoted it, there were not chapters and verses, but in our text today, verse 11 continues with this statement –
“ . . . at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Peter would have expected them to know that this was part of the context, in fact it’s the second time the reference of “being at thy right hand” is mentioned in the passage. This is important because he now nails down his point using that reference. He does this by quoting from Psalm 110 -
NKJ Acts 2:33-35 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." '"
To understand the point Peter is making, we must now return to Joel’s prophecy. Peter began quoting Joel at verse 28 –
NKJ Acts 2:16-21 "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Who’s speaking in this passage? Obviously (and according to verse 27) it’s YHVH Elohekim (YVHV your God). YHVH is the one pouring out the Holy Spirit, but Yeshua in John 7:37, says that the Holy Spirit would come from Him. What gives? Yeshua had given the answer in John 15 –
NKJ John 15:26-27 "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
The Ruach – the Holy Spirit – comes from The Father through Messiah Yeshua, and this is possible because Yeshua is now at the right hand of The Father. But it goes even deeper as Peter is about to show.
Peter had quoted from Psalm 110, though he would have expected his audience to know the context. Let’s look at the context beginning in verse 1 and going through vs. 5.
NKJ Psalm 110:1-5 The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." 2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! 3 Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. 4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." 5 The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
In the English, we don’t see anything startling about this passage. It appears to simply be saying that YHVH said to David’s lord (Adonai 15) that He (Adonai) would sit at YHVH’s right hand. Christians understand Adonai in this passage to be Yeshua. But there’s more!
Dropping down to verse 5, we see that YHVH has sworn that you (Adonai) are a priest forever and that Adonai is at your right hand. This is a little confusing, and understandably so. It’s confusing because the scribes changed one of the words. To see what happened, let me share a little history.
The Masorites (keepers of tradition) were a group of scribes who protected the Hebrew scriptures from the period of about 500 to 900 CE. Part of their job was to “improve” the text, which they did to make the text more understandable. Whenever they “improved” the text, they would make a marginal note of what they had done. One of these places was Psalm 110:5. In this passage the word that’s now “adonai” was originally the Tetragrammaton YHVH.
The scribe, thinking that YHVH would never be sitting at the right hand of Adonai, changed the text from saying YHVH to saying Adonai. If they had left it alone, as it was in the 1st century when Peter would have read it, the passage would have read (using the proper names) –
TLK Revision YHVH said to Adonai, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." 2 YHVH shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion . . . 4 YHVH has sworn and will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." 5 YHVH is at Your right hand . . .
In very simple terms, what this is saying is that YHVH is at YHVH’s right hand.
Thus what Peter is saying is that (as Joel 2:27-28 states) YHVH is at YHVH’s right hand sending the Holy Spirit that comes from YHVH, and thus Yeshua was, and still is the promised deliverer of Joel 2:32.
NKJ Acts 2:36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. " "
So Peter tells his audience of believers they should go to the House of Israel (presumably all Israel) and let them know that they had killed their salvation (because of their sins), but now that He’d died and was resurrected, He now sits at the right of YHVH as YHVH and Maschiach.
NKJ Acts 2:37-41 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." 40And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. "
The people were “cut to the heart” . . . the Messiah had come, but Israel had killed her deliverer. They had believed that Yeshua was the Messiah right up to the time He died. Like many others, they had missed the signs; they had mis-interpreted the prophecies; they didn’t believe what He had said. Now that they see, what do they do?
Peter had already given part of the answer – Go tell the house of Israel that their Messiah had come; He had fulfilled the prophecies, and He had died to remove the curse of the law – the curse spoken of in Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28 & 29, and mentioned by Daniel in Daniel 9.
But before they do, they need to repent of their sins and their lack of faith. They need to become disciples of Messiah Yeshua and be baptized in His name – that is – His walk, and for the “remission of their sins” which simply means the release from bondage that is given by faith in the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah. Then they – like Peter and the disciples – would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Not only would this generation receive the spirit, but so would their children when they repented. What’s more – and this is what’s really important, the promise of the spirit of God is available to all who heed the Father’s call.
So what is the BIG event of Acts 2? Is it about the giving of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church? No it's not. The "church" had been established 1500 years earlier at Mount Sinai and God's people - as they do today - received the Spirit as they repented and followed God. The real story of Acts 2 is that Peter, on Shavuot – delivered a message of mercy and hope for his fellow believers, his countrymen, and all mankind. His message was that our Salvation is not dead – He’s Alive, and the gift of the Holy Spirit is one proof of it. Thus the prophecies are true, the Kingdom that was established on Shavuot 1500 years earlier was on track. Peter – filled with his zeal for the Kingdom and his love for Messiah Yeshua, motivated his fellow disciples and went on to “turn the world upside-down” with that message.
I want to close with an interesting tidbit of information . . .
Peter ended his message with the statement –
“The promise is to you and your children, and to all who are afar off.”
The Greek word for “promise” in this passage as well as everywhere the word promise is used in the New Testament is “epaggelia” (Strong’s 1860) or a derivative thereof. In the King James Version of the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “promise” is always “dabar” ( דָבָר – 1697) except in two places – Numbers 14:34 and Psalm 77:8. In the Psalm 77 passage, the psalmist is asking, “Has God cast off His people forever? Has His mercy ceased? Has His promise failed? We know that, according to Peter’s message of mercy and hope given on Pentecost just 50 days after Messiah Yeshua was resurrected, the answer to the psalmist’s question is NO – God’s mercy, His promise has not failed.
The Hebrew word for “promise” in that passage is OMER ( אֹמֶר- 562) 17, and on the 50th day of the omer count, He began to gather his bride.