Peter continued speaking about Jesus' resurrection in Acts 2:25-36:
"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. Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in Your presence.' 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. 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, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 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. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.' Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Although Peter had seen the risen Lord with his own eyes, most of his audience had not. Thus, in addition to his inspired testimony about Jesus being raised (which was certainly validated via the miraculous phenomena of Pentecost), Peter will offer proof from prophecy regarding Jesus being brought back to life. His audience was Jewish and they believed in the Old Testament Scriptures. To show them a prediction of Christ's resurrection from the prophets would be received as strong evidence, and that is precisely what Peter does.
It was not possible for Jesus (the Messiah) to be held by death because it was foretold by David in Psalm 16:8-11 that the Messiah would be raised from the dead prior to His body decaying. Admittedly, an initial look at David's words here would likely lead one to the conclusion that he was talking about himself. However, Peter applies the words exclusively to Christ. How can we know Peter was right in this application and that David's words here were intended to describe the Messiah? Peter gives a conclusive answer to this question in Acts 2:29. Peter reasons that David could not have been writing about himself since David "is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." The fact that David's tomb was still with them indicated that David was still dead and buried! And, over the thousand years between David's death and Pentecost of Acts 2, his body would have undergone considerable "corruption"; that is, his body would have deteriorated dramatically over that span of time. Yet the prophecy implies a resurrection since the soul under consideration would not be left "in Hades" (i.e., the unseen realm of the departed spirits) and the physical body would not "see corruption." As far as we know, David's spirit was still in Hades as Peter spoke, and David's flesh had wasted away long ago in the tomb (Paul affirmed that explicitly in Acts 13:36). Clearly, David could not have been writing about himself! His prophecy had to have someone else in mind--someone who died yet would not stay dead for long (or else their flesh would also decompose in the tomb) and this someone would need to be able to be rightly referred to as God's "Holy One." David was writing about the Messiah--Jesus Christ!
The psalm speaks from Christ's perspective about His confidence in the heavenly Father - "He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken." To be at one's right hand is to be in a place of dignity and honor. In the courts of justice, advocates stood at the right hands of their clients (cf. Psa. 109:31). Jesus knew His death on the cross wasn't the end. He knew He was accomplishing the will of God. Thus, His heart could rejoice and His flesh would rest in hope for a glorious event that would occur three days after His death--the reunification of His spirit with His body--His resurrection from the dead! Though He died a brutal death, Jesus knew He would be reunited with the Father shortly - "You will make me full of joy in Your presence" (Acts 2:28; cf. Heb. 12:2).
David's prophecy is remarkable indeed. Not only was it written nearly a millennia before Christ came to Earth, but it included an amazing prediction about the Messiah that man, on his own, certainly would not have predicted! David predicted that the Holy One of God would die! Who would predict that the great Israelite hero to come (the Messiah) would perish? Nevertheless, that is exactly what David predicted under inspiration, and that is precisely what happened at Calvary according to the "determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23)!
Peter, after explaining David's prophecy about the Messiah being raised from the dead, affirms that he and the other apostles were "all witnesses" (Acts 2:32) that God had indeed brought Jesus back to life--Jesus was the "Holy One" of which David spoke! A natural question that would arise is this: "Where did Jesus go after being raised?" Peter tells us--Jesus was "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" (2:33). The miraculous activity of Pentecost was another proof of Jesus' resurrection and ascension back to the Father. For Christ to be exalted to God's right hand implies that Jesus was reigning in heaven in the first century (cf. Phil. 2:9; Heb. 2:9). The apostle Paul is very clear about this in Ephesians 1:20-23 - God raised Christ "from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under his feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Jesus is still reigning from heaven today and will continue to do so until it is time for His return (cf. I Cor. 15:23-28; Luke 1:31-33). God had promised David this in II Samuel 7:12-16 (cf. Psa. 132:11; 89:3,4).
David did not ascend to heaven, but Jesus did. David wrote more about this matter in Psalm 110:1 and Peter quotes it in Acts 2:34,35 - "The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'" Three individuals are referred to in the beginning of this passage: The "LORD" (all capitals) is God the Father, the other "Lord" mentioned is the Messiah (Jesus), and the first "my" has reference to David the speaker. What David predicted about His Lord had now occurred. The Father had brought Jesus back to life and had brought Him to His side to reign from heaven. This is where Christ's throne was and is (not in Jerusalem; cf. Acts 2:30). After we finish studying Acts 2, we will have much more to say about this important point as it pertains to the false doctrine of premillennialism. What does it mean to make one's enemy a footstool? In days of old, a king who had conquered an enemy might make him lie down on his back at the base of the king's throne. The king would then rest his feet on the man or perhaps even put his feet on his throat to indicate his complete control over the conquered one. So shall it be with Christ one day. All those who have rebelled against Him will be subdued, even death itself in due time.
This portion of Peter's sermon is concluded with a powerful statement - "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Peter knew this to be the case without a shadow of a doubt, and he wants them (and us) to believe also. To call Jesus "Lord" is to acknowledge His supremacy in power, rank, and authority. He is supreme above all others. He is a master to whom service is due on any ground. To call Jesus "Christ" is to identify Him as God's anointed One. One might be anointed to take on the role of either prophet, priest, or king. In Jesus' case, He has functioned in all three roles (cf. Heb. 1:1-4)! God spoke through Christ (prophet), Jesus made purification for sins (priest), and He sat down at the right hand of God to reign (king). Jesus is the Messiah, and His power and authority are preeminent. He is the One to be obeyed as ruler (cf. Rev. 17:14)!
Can you imagine the effect that these facts would have had on the crowd gathered as these inspired truths penetrated their hearts and minds? They were guilty of crucifying Jesus, the One whom the Father raised up to rule as the Lord and Christ over all men! We will study their response in our next lesson and encourage all to seriously consider their own response to these truths.
Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.