First Reading: Acts 2:14, 22-33

Proclamation of the Good News

Literal Translation

14 Having stood, Peter (along) with the Eleven, raised his voice and spoke to them, "Men, (fellow) Judeans and all living in Jerusalem! Let this be know to you! Give ear to my words!

22 Men, (fellow) Israelites! Listen to these words! JESUS of Nazareth (was) a man appointed by God to you in power, wonders, and signs which God did through HIM in your midst, as you yourselves know. 23 In the designated will and foreknowledge of God, you killed this (Jesus) having crucified (HIM), (a man) surrendered to the hands of lawless men. 24 (But,) God raised (HIM) up, having loosed the (birth) pains of death, so (death) did not have the power to hold him by (death). 25 For David said to him:

I keep seeing the Lord always before me,
since he is at my right side so I might not be shaken (up).
26 Because of this, my heart is cheerful and my tongue exults,
even more so, my flesh lives on in hope.
27 (For) You will not abandon my soul in the afterlife
and (You) will not allow your Holy One to see decay.
28 (You) made know the ways of life to me,
and you will fill me with gladness by the (presence of) your face.

29 Men, brothers! It is possible to say to you (something) about our patriarch David with (utter) confidence: he died, he was buried, and his grave is with us to his day. 30 Being a prophet and having known that God swore an oath to (David) (for someone) from his loins to sit on (David's) throne, 31 having foreseen, he spoke about the resurrection of the Christ:

He was neither deserted in the afterlife
nor did his flesh see decay.

32 God raised this Jesus up, of whom we are witnesses. 33 Having been elevated to the right (hand) of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, (Jesus) poured this out which you see and hear.

2:22-24 These verses actually form one, long sentence that center on Jesus as the object of three verbs: "appointed by God," "you killed," and "God raised up." In typical Jewish fashion, Peter began with God, came down to the level of human activity, and returned to God. In this way, he placed Jesus into the history of God's salvation.

2:27 "the afterlife" is literally "Hades," an allusion to the afterlife. In itself, the term "Hades" does not imply the notion of eternal damnation (i.e., "hell").

2:28 "the (presence of) your face" referred to the blessings of God in general, as well as the presence of the divine.

2:33 "(Jesus) poured this out which you see and hear." What did Jesus pour out? There are two possibilities: the Holy Spirit (mentioned in the clause before this) or the event of Pentecost itself (speaking in tongues with power). Of course, Luke could have referred to both.

These verses from Acts present the first public proclamation of the Good News after the Resurrection. Implicit in the verses was the cause of the proclamation: the Holy Spirit.

The set up to Peter's speech painted themes of the end times that stood in stark contrast to popular belief. In the popular view, the Messiah would usher in the end times with a triumphant entry and enthronement in Jerusalem. In response, peoples from all over the known world would come to pay tribute (and, implicitly, receive judgment from the King). Of course, Jews had their own view of the Messiah's judgment over the earth. Jews would be exalted, while the Gentiles would be made second-class citizens.

In his typical fashion, Luke turned this notion of the end time on its head. The Messiah had come and was enthroned, on the cross. Now people came in pilgrimage from all over the earth. And they encounter God's judgment, not in blood, but in the outpouring of the Spirit. (see Acts 2:5-11) In a sense, Peter's speech was not only a reaction to God's judgment, but was the catalyst to that judgment. He was a believer and challenged others to believe. Their response would mark them as saved or damned. Salvation, then, did not depend upon blood line (the popular view). It depended upon faith!

The outpouring of the Spirit caused confusion and scorn (see Acts 2:12-13). Peter addressed both in 2:14-20 with four steps: a call for attention, presentation of thesis, a quote from Scripture, and the use of the quote to defend the thesis. 2:14 presented the call for attention. The other three steps (defense of the tongues, the use of Joel 2:28-32 (a list of charisms announcing the end times), and connecting the tongues to Joel) are not listed.

Acts 2:22-33 repeated the four steps. Peter called for the attention of the crowd, now with an acknowledgment of his world-wide audience (Israelites from the Diaspora instead of local Jews). Next, he proclaimed his thesis: the public ministry of Jesus, his humiliating death, and his resurrection were part of God's will for the end times. The three sentences [2:22b-24] was a short summary of salvation history.

Third, Peter presented Psalm 16:8-11 to defend his thesis [2:25-28]. Finally, Peter appealed to the (then) popular notion that David wrote all the psalms. Peter interpreted Psalm 16:8-11 as a first-person projection, focused upon the resurrection. In other words, according to Peter, David spoke as if he were in someone else's "shoes." And he interpreted the subject matter of immortality, not through one's progeny (i.e., an unending line of successors), but as a personal experience. Since David spoke of personal resurrection, and since burial place of David's body was a matter of public knowledge, according to Peter, David must have spoken of someone in the future: the Christ! [2:29-31] To back up his assertion, Peter repeated Psalm 16:10 and added the personal witness of the Twelve. [2:32]

In the end, Peter tied together his thesis (the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as God's will) with the events of Pentecost. The risen, glorified Messiah caused the events of the day. [2:33]

In a sense, we live in the end times. We have faith in Jesus as the Christ. And, the outpouring of the Spirit has been given to us. We have judged beloved by the Father. We may not have the charism of tongues, but we do have the gifts of the Spirit. The challenge before us is simple: proclaim the Good News!