To find an answer that satisfies both "whys," especially in regard to one's personal destiny, is to discover the best good news.Apologia for Pentecost: Ultimate Cause and Saving Significance (2:14-21)
Seizing the moment in the midst of the crowd's bewilderment and confusion, Peter addresses the people in Spirit-filled utterance (see 2:4). He begins with a formal address, Fellow Jews, which will soften as he proceeds (men of Israel, 2:22; brothers, 2:29). His message will explain the Pentecost event as God's saving acts (see also 4:12; 13:38: 28:28) and show its crucial importance for his hearers and for us.
Though those drunk and those filled with the Spirit are "carried out of themselves into an abnormal sense of freedom and expressiveness," the cause and the end results are entirely different (E. F. Harrison 1986:64). Peter with good humor dismisses this empirical explanation with further empirical evidence: in a culture where the first meal is not taken until ten o'clock, nine o'clock in the morning is too early in the day to find people drunk (see Josephus Life 279).
The ultimate cause and significance of the Spirit's empowerment is found in God and his saving purposes, as the prophet Joel foretold.
What the Spirit empowers people to do is prophesy. Prophecy for Luke encompasses Spirit-filled speaking in other languages (2:12, 16), predictive discourse (11:27; 21:10; compare 9:10; 10:10; 16:9; 18:9, where dreams and visions guide the post-Pentecost church) and proclamatory witness (15:32). As the Old Testament prophets made God's will known by witnessing to his Word, so now, as Luther says, all Christians are Spirit-enabled to bear witness to "knowledge of God through Christ which the Holy Spirit kindles and makes to burn through the word of the gospel" (Stott 1990:74; compare Acts 1:8).
Joel and Peter remind us of the decisiveness of these last days by pointing to cosmic signs on earth and in heaven. The universe will reveal what a shambles sinful humankind makes of things by its constant assault on God's moral order. From this the human race should know that judgment must come at the day of the Lord (Is 13:6, 9; Ezek 30:3; Zeph 1:14-15). The hope held out by Joel is thus vitally significant. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21/Joel 2:32).
Peter next boldly implicates the crowd in Jesus' death. He was handed over into their power. With the help of lawless men--that is, Gentile Romans (NIV wicked men)--they did away with him through crucifixion. Peter sets their responsibility in tension with God's determined purpose and foreknowledge (compare Luke 22:22). Far from discrediting Jesus as God's Messiah, this shameful death was very much a part of God's set purpose and foreknowledge (see Acts 3:18; 13:29). Though Peter does not explicitly refer to Jesus' death as a vicarious atonement, he gives us the objective fact, which is the basis for such an understanding: an innocent man suffered and died.
But there's more. Human beings may have killed Jesus, but God brought him back to life. It was not a resuscitation but an eternal resurrection. In a remarkable mixed metaphor, death's agony became its birth pangs: death was in labor and unable to hold back the "delivery" of Jesus.
As Peter will go on to prove, with respect to Pentecost, Jesus' resurrection is the answer to the question "Why?" from both angles. It is Pentecost's immediate cause (vv. 32-33), and it is the ground for the saving significance of the Pentecost event.
How is it possible to understand a first-person psalm attributed to David, in which he appears to speak of his protection from death, as a prophecy of the Messiah's hope in a resurrection out of death?
But how can a Messiah who suffers and dies also reign forever (Ps 22:15-16)? It is possible only if that Messiah rises from the dead. David was permitted to see ahead of time this vital stage in God's process of redemption. So he could speak confidently of Messiah's resurrection when he said that Messiah was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay (Acts 2:31). What a wise God to plan a path the Messiah would follow to effect salvation! What a merciful God to reveal a portion of that path to prophets, so that now, as we look back after the fulfillment, it all makes sense (see 1 Pet 1:10-12).
Peter now completes the second half of a chiastic (or reverse parallelism) construction that extends all the way back to verse 25.
Peter calls his listeners to know for certain that God has openly avowed Jesus to be Lord and Messiah (compare Lk 1:4). Jesus may now rightfully be declared Messiah, since he has done Messiah's saving work and has been vindicated by God, who raised him from the dead. He may properly be proclaimed Lord in the highest sense of the word, as the respectful designation of the unpronounceable name of God (YHWH). For by his resurrection-exaltation he has demonstrated that he is the ever-living and life-giving God, whom death cannot hold and who pours out the Spirit (Acts 2:24, 33).
Peter immediately reminds his listeners that it is this risen and exalted Messiah and Lord whom they have crucified. "They were not trifling with a Galilean carpenter, but God!" (Ogilvie 1983:71).Application of Pentecost: A Call to Repentance and Promise (2:37-41)
Peter's invitation is to repent, this turning from sin and turning to Christ is the necessary condition for receiving salvation blessings (Lk 13:3, 5; 15:7; 16:30; 24:47; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20).
Peter calls for each one of them individually (hekastos, but NIV every one) to be baptized . . . in (on the basis of) the name of Jesus Christ--that is, as Joseph Addison Alexander puts it, "by his authority, acknowledging his claims, subscribing to his doctrine, engaging in his service, and relying on his merits" (quoted in Stott 1990:78). By repentance and baptism we show that we have met the conditions for receiving forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit. By making repentance and baptism conditions for the reception of salvation blessings, Luke does not imply that salvation comes by merit or ritual. He is not promoting some necessary second experience. He consistently presents both forgiveness and the Spirit as gifts of grace (3:19; 5:31; 13:38; 11:17; 15:8). The gift of the Spirit is the Spirit himself, who regenerates, indwells, unites, and transforms lives. All the fruit and gifts of the Spirit flow from this one great gift.
Peter now declares the universal extent of the salvation offer. He reaches out across time and space, generations and cultures (your children and . . . all who are afar off--that is, Jews of the diaspora and Gentiles; see Is 57:19; Eph 2:13). And he does not let his audience forget, even as he tells them their responsibility, that salvation is God's work from beginning to end. For the promise is for all whom the Lord our God will call. Those who respond are answering the Lord our God's effective call on their lives (compare Acts 13:48; 16:14). "He set me free to want what He wanted to give!" (Ogilvie 1983:72).
Now we have come full circle. The salvation promised by Joel (and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved--Acts 2:21/Joel 2:32) is accomplished by Jesus (God has made this Jesus . . . Lord--Acts 2:36). And it is humanly appropriated when one is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (v. 38) with the assurance that the gift of salvation is for all whom the Lord our God will call (v. 39).
There were many other things Peter said to the crowd as he warned them. He kept on exhorting them to allow themselves to be saved, rescued from a corrupt (literally, "crooked") generation. The Old Testament labeled the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness a "crooked generation" (Deut 32:5; Ps 78:8). Peter's use of this phrase intensifies the call to repentance. The "wilderness generation" experienced the judgment of God when it did not repent. So will those of the present generation if they do not answer God's call and turn to him in repentance.
The gospel call comes clearly and urgently today. "The question is not, shall I repent? For that is beyond a doubt. But the question is, shall I repent now, when it may save me; or shall I put it off to the eternal world when my repentance will be my punishment?" (Samuel Davies in Wirt and Beckstrom 1974:203).
Three thousand souls welcomed the word (compare 28:30), met its conditions and were baptized. They joined the ranks of the apostles and disciples in the nucleus of the New Testament church. "The kerygma,indeed, has the power to evoke that which it celebrates" (Willimon 1988:36).
We must not be negligent either in giving or heeding invitations. Lloyd Ogilvie strongly encourages pastors to make invitation a standard part of regular worship services. In whatever form--whether printing an invitation in the bulletin, designating a room for inquirers or calling people forward during a closing hymn--the Lord's call for those to be saved should be consistently present. "People are more ready than we dare to assume. And why not? The Holy Spirit is at work!" (Ogilvie 1983:73).