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evangelism, for it is the essence of gospel proclamation.121 Most commentators agree that Peter utilizes either a midrash or pesher model. Generally, the midrash is “interpretive renderings of the Hebrew text.”122 The pesher adds an “eschatological exegesis” by which the OT prophecies find fulfillment in the current time of the commentary.123 Bowker and Longenecker point to Peter’s sermon as a midrash of Joel’s prophecy.124 Ellis suggests that the eschatological focus drawn from Joel 2 reveals Peter’s use of pesher.125 Following Ellis’ suggestion, an apostolic method begins with the contemporary event, brings together an OT text and “christological kerygma,” and applies the interpretation to the evangelization of the hearers.126 C. H. Dodd, Apostolic Preaching, 8.
E. Earle Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 151-52.
J. W. Bowker, “Speeches in Acts: A Study of Proem
and Yellammendu Form,” New Testament Studies 14 (1967-1968):
96-109; Richard Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 100-103.
E. Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutic, 201-204.
Peter’s explication of the phenomena of Pentecost to the crowd presents the message of salvation.127 Four elements within Peter’s sermon provide insight for an apostolic approach: the allure of the Spirit’s activity, the OT foundation, the “christological kerygma,” and the witness of Christ’s followers. The following section will focus upon these elements as instructive for the evangelization of postmodern people. The propositions from OT Scripture presents a central feature in the definition of the Spirit’s activity, the interpretation of the “christological kerygma,” and in the validation of the followers of Jesus.
Propositions from Old Testament Scripture Peter’s evangelistic approach interprets the experience of his hearers with the OT Scripture.128 Joel 2:28-32 provide the interpretive framework for the miraculous events of Pentecost and serve as a spring-board for the systematic presentation of the gospel.129 M. Soards, The Speeches in Acts, 32.
C. H. Dodd, According to the Scriptures: The Substructure of New Testament Theology (London: Nisbet, 1952), 127. Dodd writes that OT scripture “is the substructure of all Christian theology and contains already its chief regulative ideas.” This pertains to a Jewish audience. For the evangelization of Gentiles, see chapter five, “Apostolic Witness in Postmodern Time, Acts 1:8.” F. F. Bruce, “The Significance of the Speeches for Interpreting Acts,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 33 Psalm 16:8-11 provides the foundation for the resurrection. A key element in Peter’s interpretation is the identification of dysij; or “favored one” (Ps 16:10).
Kaiser suggests that David is the representative and recipient of “God’s ancient but ever-renewed promise.”130 The term dysij; points to the object of God’s favor and
is the “path of life.”131 Fitzmeyer indicates that David’s prophetic ability led him to see the future of God’s dysij;.132 Peter utilizes David’s prophecy that God’s “ultimate hasid would triumph over death. For David, this was all one word: God’s ancient but ever-new promise.”133 Through the OT foundation, Peter declares that Christ’s resurrection fulfills the promise of the eternal kingdom to David. An analysis of this (Fall 1990): 21.
John B. Polhill, Acts, 114.
M. Dahood, Psalm I: 1-50, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1966), 1:91, suggests that this phrase indicates eternal life.
Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “David, Being Therefore a
Prophet (Acts 2:30),” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 34 (1972):
332-339; see also, Walter C. Kaiser Jr., “The Promise to David in Psalm 16 and Its Application in Acts 2:25–33 and 13:32–37,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 23 (1980): 228.
W. Kaiser Jr., “Promise to David,” 229.
“christological kerygma” will follow in the next section.
Psalm 110:1 provides the foundation for the exaltation of Jesus. Peter declares that the unusual phenomenon at Pentecost is the outpouring of the Spirit from the exalted Jesus Christ. Psalm 110:1 serves as Peter’s OT support for the exaltation of Jesus as well as the blessings of the exalted Christ upon His followers.134 The oracle from Yahweh to ynIdoa, however, is certain in its portrayal of ynIdoa as distinct from both David and Yahweh.135 In this way, OT Scripture serves as the foundation of knowledge to interpret the experience of the hearers. To this foundation, Peter joins the “christological kerygma” and the personal testimony of the disciples. OT Scripture provides the foundation of knowledge for the “truth-claims” of the cross and the resurrection.
Alvin Reid suggests, “The objective message of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection permeated the witness of the
See, W. R. G. Loader, “Christ at the Right Hand:
Psalm CX.i in the N.T.,” New Testament Studies 24 (1977–78):
See Mark 12:35-37 in which Jesus attributes the psalm to David.
early church.”136 Peter’s sermon affirms that statement.
The “christological kerygma” in Peter’s sermon focuses upon the death (Acts 2:22-23), resurrection (Acts 2:24-28; Ps 16:8-11), and exaltation of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:29-36; Ps 110:1). Dunn, following Conzelmann and Cadbury, however, contends that the kerygma of Acts does not contain a “theology of the death of Jesus.” He argues that the sermons in Acts do not interpret the historical fact of Jesus’ death but focus on His resurrection and exaltation.137 I. H. Marshall also acknowledges that Luke provides “scanty” material on the death of Jesus and its significance.138 Marshall, however, finds vicarious atonement in Philip’s evangelistic encounter with the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-39) and in the formula, “hanging on a tree” (Acts 5:30; 10:39;
13:29).139 Conner argues that Peter applies the Servant motif to Jesus (Acts 3:13, 26; 4:27, 30), “who redeems [H]is
Alvin Reid, Introduction to Evangelism (Nashville:
Broadman and Holman, 1998), 48.
Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity, 2d ed.
(London: SCM Press, 1990), 16-21; Henry J. Cadbury, The Making of Luke-Acts (New York: MacMillan, 1927), 280; Hans Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke, trans. Geoffrey Buswell (New York: Harper and Row, 1960), 200-201.
I. H. Marshall, Luke: Historian and Theologian (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), 171.
Ibid., 169-73. For contrary view, see Dunn, Unity and Diversity, 17-18.
people by suffering and death.”140 Peter’s sermon at Pentecost presents the cross as the essential ingredient in the purpose of God for the salvation of humanity (Acts 2:23). The perfective participle, wJrismevnh/, modifies boulh`/.141 Schmidt indicates that oJrivzw promotes the idea of God’s determination and
pathway for the completion of His purpose (boulhv).143 Peter indicates that God purposed for Jesus to be crucified. Even though God’s predetermined counsel includes the death of Jesus, Peter unapologetically proclaims the human responsibility. Holtzmann states that “so reichten sich hier menschliche Freiheit und göttliche Notwendigkeit die Hand: Dies die einfachste und wohl auch älteste Form, sich mit dem paradoxen Schicksal des Messias auszusöhnen.”144 Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 111.
It is possible that the participle modifies both boulh`/ and prognwvsei, since both are in the dative.
Fritz Rienecker, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, trans. Cleon Rogers Jr. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976; reprint, 1980), 266.
H. J. Holtzmann, Die Apostelgeschichte, 3d ed., Hand-Commentar zum Neuen Testament 1/2 (Tübingen: J. C. B.
Mohr, 1901), 34. “So here human freedom and divine necessity presented to themselves the source: this the simplest and probably also oldest form, to reconcile The issue for Holtzmann is the paradox between divine purpose and human responsibility. Polhill suggests that “Peter carefully balanced the elements of God’s divine purposes and the human responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus.”145 Peter also declares that the Jewish crowd of hearers and the Gentiles share the guilt of killing Jesus.146
of God’s grace for man’s salvation.”147 Peter proclaims the triumph of God over death through Christ (Acts 2:24).148 Morris insightfully states that the message of the cross in the Pentecost sermon “is not put forward from any idea that it was good teaching, or good strategy, or that it could meet a damaging criticism. It is put forward because it is held to be true.”149 For Peter and the apostolic church, the cross is an objective, historical reality which God purposed for the salvation of humanity (Acts 2:39).150
Peter also presents the resurrection of Jesus as an objective, historical reality. The apostolic church connects the significance of the cross with the resurrection.151 This significance is that the cross is “the means to the end, and that end is victory.”152 God provides victory over death through Christ’s resurrection. The gospel promises victory through the inauguration of the new age at Christ’s exaltation and His bestowal of the Spirit to His followers (Acts 2:33).153
OT Scripture provides the hearers foundations for belief.
The eyewitness testimonies of the disciples about the resurrection also provide a foundation for belief. Finally, Peter presents the proof of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33).
This represents the “crowning proof that Christ had been raised from the dead and enthroned in heaven as exalted Messiah.”154 David Wells connects this proclamation also to the witness of the Spirit of truth. The witness of the Spirit W. T. Conner, The Cross in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman, 1954), 48.
Leon Morris, Cross in the New Testament, 130.
Curtis Vaughan, Acts: A Study Guide Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), 27.
joins Peter’s evangelistic proclamation to draw the hearers toward salvation.
The sermon Peter preached at Pentecost was one in which Jesus was the focus and the Holy Spirit’s ministry of conviction was apparent. He convicted listeners of sin (‘you... put [H]im to death’; Acts 2:23), righteousness (‘But God raised [H]im from the dead’;
[H]e is ‘exalted to the right hand of God’; 2:24, 33), and judgment (‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at [M]y right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’; 2:34-35). Those who heard were ‘cut to the heart’ (2:37); on that day, three thousand believed.155 Thus, Peter joins the testimony of the Spirit to evangelize the Jerusalem crowd at Pentecost.
Following these proofs, Peter concludes his evangelistic sermon with a call for the audience to repent.
He declares that the foundations for faith have been laid at the feet of his hearers so that they should know (ginwskevtw) that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).
The truth of God’s salvation is the impetus for the creation of the community of faith (Acts 2:41-47).
An apostolic approach for the evangelization of postmodern people proclaims the cross and the resurrection as the “truth-claims” of the gospel to postmodern people.
The contemporary church follows the example of the apostolic church, proclaiming the death and resurrection as objective, David Wells, God the Evangelist, 45. Peter’s statement in Acts 2:36 is a climactic statement, by which Peter and the apostolic church give to Jesus the highest title, signifying Yahweh Himself.
historical facts which are essential in evangelism.
Robert Webber suggests that evangelism in a postmodern world “must recover the emphasis that Christ’s death is a victory over the powers of evil.”156 This is the message which Peter proclaims in his sermon at Pentecost, and it is the content of the proclamation of the gospel in the postmodern world. The proclamation of Christus Victor “makes connection with churched and unchurched people.”157 In the evangelization of postmodern people, the gospel of the cross and the empty tomb declares that God has gained a victory that is unattainable without Him.
The contemporary church must proclaim the “christological kerygma.” Scripture, personal witness, and the Spirit of truth provide the foundations for belief.
Proclaiming the cross and resurrection as objective, historical realities, the Spirit of truth verifies the truth of the gospel and convicts postmodern people.
The “truth-claims” of the cross and the resurrection are essential for the evangelization of Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 150.
postmodern people; yet for the postmodern mind, the question of truth and the acquisition of truth must be considered.
According Richard Rorty and other postmodern theorists, truth is a function of community.158 The community creates truth that is most beneficial for the continuance of that community.159 This truth remains in tact until an individual or a group of individuals within the community develop enough skill in the “language games” to change or alter the truth. Truth then changes according to the context of the community and the language games within the community.
The outpouring of the Spirit of truth at Pentecost teaches, however, that community is a function of truth.
The Christian community in apostolic times and in the postmodern world is built upon the truth of the gospel and the power of the Spirit of truth applying the truth to the hearts of the hearers. The Holy Spirit creates community through the truth of the gospel.160 The Holy Spirit, who
Richard Rorty, Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth:
Philosophical Papers, Volume 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 23-25, 165.