Peter’s Appeal to Jesus’ Resurrection in Acts
I think is not only being a child of God, but having a incredible family of brothers and sisters, some of whom are in very different parts of the world that it’s always nice to get, to see different faces in different places. All right. So Peter Paul’s speeches, I may make that mistake in a number of times. I apologize ahead of time for that,
but Paul’s speeches in the book of acts acts 13 to 28 chapters. In the last half of the book of acts, we are going to see Paul making repeated references to the resurrection. I don’t think you see it as often as Peter Peter, it seems like every time he gets up to make an address, he is giving you the basic details. Life,
death, burial, crucifixion, a resurrection of Jesus. Paul is going to have a number of interactions where he may not mention the resurrection, but in his major speeches, we are going to cover those because it is important. What we do find, I think is by looking at the speeches of Peter and Paul, the resurrection was a, was a fundamental components.
First century preaching you just as much as the gospel. In fact, just as much as the crucifixion. I think what you’re going to find is that even in Paul’s letters, you find this same concern. This is something that was just an integral part of Jesus’s life. It was part of his mission. Paul will go so far as to say, if Jesus is not raised,
then we are still in our sins. All right. So we look at Paul’s strategy in the book of acts. And very often he went into synagogues very much like Jesus did. Of course, Jesus is, is simply participating in the culture, right? He’s simply doing what good Jews do. And you go to synagogue and you, you, you participate in the service.
It’s actually remarkably similar to what the early church had. You know, you’d have a sermon, you’d have scripture reading, you’d have alms giving, you’d have singing. And so you would have something very similar to what the early church had with the exception of celebration of the Lord supper. Well, when we look at Paul’s strategy, he would go into synagogues.
He would spend time with them and they already had a concept of the Messiah. They had an idea of what they were looking for. May not have always been on target, but they had an idea. And so Paul already had something to work with there. They already understood in respect of the authority of the scriptures. So they already had several things in place that made Paul’s message a little bit easier,
but he wants to emphasize the fact that this Jesus, this is the Messiah and the re the way you know, that he’s the Messiah. Is he what he did? How he resurrected from the dead? Well, we see this made explicit in other places like in the letter to the Corinthians where you have an entire chapter, chapter 15 first Corinthians, where Paul deals with these,
these details. And when we look at that particular chapter, I think we see something of Paul’s focus and surely must’ve been something that he did as he went out and preached routinely, not just in one letter. When you look at the documents of the new Testament, you can look at the vocabulary and that will tell you a great deal. You look at the structure of the letters or the structure of the writings.
You look at the vocabulary, it gives you a sense of what they were getting at. And, and first Corinthians 15, Paul uses the name Jesus only two times, which may sound a little bit surprising since he uses the word or the name or the title Christ 15 times. So what is he doing? What, what is he trying to get across there?
And it seems that this man who was anointed, right, the Mashiah, the Hebrew anointed Kristoss is the new Testament. The Greek equivalent of that. This is the man who was resurrected in a sense, the resurrection confirms his identity as the Messiah. And so this is the Christ that is spoken of in scripture. You go back to the Hebrew scriptures to the old Testament.
This is what the Hebrew prophets, this is who the Hebrew prophets were anticipating. This Jesus, well, the resurrection validates Christ status as a prophet, in addition to demonstrating the power of God, he teaches that he’s going to die in the gospels, but he’s going to be resurrected later. The disciples had a hard time, I think, getting their minds around this,
because it seems like, you know, going back and knowing what we know and having read the story. It’s, it’s sort of like these guys, weren’t very bright. It seems like Jesus mentioned things a number of times, and they still never really picked up on it. Well, in a way, this was new, this was challenging them. This was challenging some ideas at the time.
And so we can, you know, give them a little bit of a little bit of grace on that, but you also have the idea that it was fulfilling ancient prophecy. All right. So the resurrection fulfills Hosea chapter six verses one and two. Now it’s easy for us because we know the basic content of the story, right. We know how the story ends.
And so we can go back and pick up on those little details like foreshadowing and things like that. Whereas you might not have gotten it the first time through if you were just reading it and had never experienced this before. I think sometimes it’s sort of like one of those movies that has a twist at the end, right? If you’re really, if you’ve got an Eagle eye,
you can maybe pick up those details that will help you figure out the ending before it comes. And so the twist doesn’t surprise you. I think a resurrected Messiah would have been one of the greatest twists of all right, because as Aaron mentioned, you know, having a Messiah who died that, that kind of ended everything. I mean, that, that,
that ended the movement. Whereas with Christ, it was something that catapulted the movement, it validated his status as the Messiah, it showed the power of God at work. It showed that his message was genuine and it sort of gave that extra impetus to the, to the early Christian movements. Well, one indication of the, of the importance of the resurrection of Jesus is it’s mentioned in all the empty tomb has mentioned in all four gospels.
We see that post-resurrection appearances of Christ make a, a huge appearance, not only at the end of the gospels, but in the messages of the book of acts a number of times. And so it should come as no surprise that the resurrection makes an appearance in Paul speeches quite frequently. Well, we’re going to concern ourselves here with the major speeches where Paul mentions the resurrection.
One of those is an acts chapter 13 when he and Barnabas are at Antioch. And pacinian so after his Damascus road experience, which I’m sure must have been somewhat jarring to know that you have been a terrorist of the church. When you think that you are on fire, your zeal is righteous. And to have the risen Christ confront you and say, why do you persecute me?
Right? I must’ve been, must’ve been arresting. Well, his first message is delivered in a synagogue in Antioch. And here, of course, this is part of Paul’s strategy. This is what he does. And when you read through the story, it seems like the fellow who was there says, you know, who, who, who would like to deliver a message.
And Paul says, I’ll do it. You know, he immediately gets up and he delivers this message that talks about the resurrection of Christ. Now what’s interesting about this is that in the synagogue, you didn’t have to be ordained to deliver a message. Any qualified male could get up and give an expository style sermon on the scripture reading of that day, the early church was the same way.
You didn’t have to be ordained. You didn’t have to be somebody who had specific credentials were licensed to preach in order to do that. I’m sorry to say that some of our religious neighbors have developed that as a requirement for preachers. That is not what you find in the new Testament. No, it wasn’t a requirement in the early church either. Well,
in his first message, Paul makes the resurrection a focal point and he argues that the religious elite did not understand the very scriptures that they read and studied and to which they committed their lives. He opposes the religious elite and highlights their incompetence and interpreting the scriptures properly. He has a kind of courage that I think every preacher and every Christian should have. He’s not afraid of them.
You know, Peter, wasn’t afraid of them. Well, I mean, he may have, he may have had some, you know, nervousness or anxiety. I mean, these are guys who have enormous amount of power. They could beat him and did beat him. Paul is same way, but he isn’t going to adjust the content of his message,
even though he’s afraid of physical punishments or torture. I think that kind of courage is what every Christian needs. If we are going to make a difference in this culture, now Paul’s enemies. The way they react is the same way. God’s enemies always react. They are. Paul is going to appeal to scripture and to, to support his, his preaching about Christ.
And when the Jewish authorities run out of steam, they resort to smear tactics. It sort of brings to mind a quote that you may have heard when a debate is lost. Slander becomes the tool of the loser. People are convinced through persuasion, right? People are convinced through accurately looking at analyzing a particular issue. And when a person loses the ability to persuade,
they will shift to using shame intimidation and fear-mongering and Paul’s opponents because they apparently cannot counter his presentation. They choose to revile him instead. And of course, as you, and I know there are many opponents of the gospel who take that same tactic today. Now preachers today are going to be ridiculed as anti-scientific gullible, backward and superstitious because we preach Christ and him not only crucified,
but also resurrected. And there are a lot of progressive Christians. If you’re familiar with the PR with progressive Christianity, it’s sort of like a, if you remember the emerging church or the emergent church, I think it sort of went underground. And now it’s sort of re-emerged as the progressive Christian movement. Well, they will look at Christ and say what a great man.
You look at the example of the cross. What a great example of, I don’t know, sacrifice, but that’s where their story ends. That’s where their story is. Oh, Jesus was, was a really great dude. And you know, he, he was one who was self-sacrificial. So we shouldn’t be sacrificial to and helping other people. And that’s the basic content of that story.
If that message, if that’s where the, the, the gospel message ends is Jesus being put in a tomb, then you don’t really have a gospel message. You’re you’re, you’re leaving out part of the message of Christianity. And I think the reason why some do not preach the resurrection of Christ, unlike Paul, Peter, is they are very naturally and very materially minded.
But if you don’t have a resurrected Christ, that’s no different than having no Christ at all. And acts chapter 17. You’ve got Paul in Athens and here, when Paul enters the city, it says that his spirit was provoked within him. As he saw that the city was full of idols, acts chapter 17, verse 16. Now I have a hard time imagining that this was just because it was,
you know, idols and temples and shrines were everywhere. Paul grew up in a Roman city. Paul was familiar with expressions of pagan, religion. He understood this. He was around it all the time. Even though, even though he was a Jewish man who sat at the feet of a Jewish teacher, he would have been around this kind of thing all the time,
because Roman religion was, was an inescapable part of public life in the Roman world. Well, I think, and looking at why he was provoked, why was he so upset? Here is a field ripe with opportunity for people who are sleep walking their way to hell. This is an, this is a, an opportunity for him to win souls. Well,
Paul, I think gives us another very important lesson here, and that is, do not become so desensitized to the prevalence of false spirituality in the world around us, that it starts to affect us. I think when it comes to culture, technology has done this in spades. You know, we look at our, our culture of the entertainment, industry,
packaging, non-Christian ideas and concepts and values in very artistic ways. I’ll tell you this right now, I watched a video a few months ago, a music video. It was the most visually graphically stunning video I’ve ever seen in my life. It was beautiful visually, but I will tell you, and, and, and, and, and the tune was brilliant.
The lyrics of the song were absolutely indescribably vile. I don’t think you could have gotten anything worse. And yet here it is beautifully packaged with a little bow beautiful aesthetics, right. Sights sounds. But what is the content? Our culture, I think does a very, very good job with that kind of thing. In a lot of different ways. You look at profanity words today that are pedestrian would be,
have been just a Jew. You would not utter them in polite society 50 years ago. I remember. And I know some of you remember this movie, a coal miner’s right, since he space sec and Tommy Lee Jones, and there’s a part of the movie where she, she says a word and they’re in a radio interview. Now, if you look at that,
I won’t repeat it, of course, but the word today. Well, you hear that a lot actually. And yet in the movie, the radio station manager, if I remember right, he said, we’ll be, we’ll be darn lucky if we don’t get our license pulled for that, you can see this word in advertisements. You can see it in television commercials today.
And you’re talking 50 years ago when radio station losing its license for saying this on the air. This is where our culture is going. Well, when you look at the idea of tolerance and this kind of progressive desensitization, that our culture will impress upon us, there are spiritual elements to that as well. You know, you guys are sexual identity issues.
I mean, I mean, do you really want to be go down in history as people who hated homosexuals, you want to really go down in history as people who hated transgenders, who are so oppressive and intolerant against other religions, do you really want that? You really want to be known as that. And it’s like, well, that’s one way to put it.
I’d like to put it as somebody who loved the truth. That’s a more positive way of putting it. And the more accurate way I think of putting it well, we can allow that to desensitize us so that we really start to sort of resemble the world around us. We have to resist that. Well, Paul addresses the areola Magus here, the,
the intellectual elite of Athens and Athens had a very long and distinguished cultural history there. You had a number of philosophers who called Athens home either by birth or who transplanted there in time and started schools in the city. And you have this moment where Paul is, is delivering his, his message to these philosophers. And this is not just the average people Paul’s taking it right to the hall,
to the ivory tower. He’s taking it to the halls of academia. Doesn’t matter where he is. He is going to talk about his Christ. He is going to talk about the resurrected Christ and he assesses their beliefs. He addresses them accordingly. He establishes an understanding of pagan philosophy and pagan writers. Well, even though his audience’s spiritual beliefs different from his own radically,
he refused to change the, or, or adjust the message to exclude doctrinal content, to make it more palatable for that audience, because what he would have taken out that they objected to was part of the message that they needed in order to be saved. There are a lot of people here today. There, there a lot of people in the religious world today who will take out elements of the gospel message,
because we really don’t want to be intolerant. And we really don’t want, don’t want to seem really off putting. So we’ll kind of be like the world in order to win the world and then we’ll teach them the right way. Well, the way I look at it is it’s kind of like this old Spurgeon ch Spurgeon quote. You know, there come a time when you have sheep shepherds who feed the sheep will be replaced by clowns who entertained the goats.
If you give people clowns, they want, they won’t ever want anything more than clowns in acts 24. We’ve got Paul’s defense before Felix and here he is being charged. He has his detractors as opponents, accusers, and an IES, and who are accusing him of rabble-rousing and instigating trouble. And you can see the tactics, right? You, you,
you can, you can read that when they, when they identify him as this person who’s involved with the Nazareen set. Well, who is this famous Nazareen who just got crucified? Not terribly long ago that people still remember, oh, he was that guy that the Romans executed, because he was a, he was an insurrectionist. He was a criminal,
right? So it seems like they’re trying to make Paul guilty by association there. Well, Paul of course denies these charges. He says, I’m not instigating problems. I’m not rabble-rousing, you know, you still got visitors here in Jerusalem, who could, you could call to testify as witnesses on my behalf. But it’s interesting that in this speech, the one theological thing that Paul mentions,
the one theological thing that he really hammers is the resurrection. Now he doesn’t say Jesus Christ is the son of the living, God, right? He doesn’t say, ah, you know, we’re going to call Jesus the Messiah. Oh, and you have to look at the cross. You have to you’ll have faith in Christ, work on the cross.
If you want salvation from your sins, he doesn’t mention that. But he does mention the resurrection specifically. Now that is one thing that sort of is a tactic that Paul uses of his own. And it’s funny when you look at the back and forth and look at the tactics that Paul uses and what his accusers you use, you can see some gamesmanship going on because what Paul’s doing is say,
is he saying this thing with the resurrection? Oh, well that means that this is now a religious argument. And so I really don’t need to be in a Roman court because Romans don’t care about that kind of thing. Right? Romans you know, they’re, open-minded, they’re tolerant. They’re okay with all kinds of religions. And if you look at Roman gods,
they it’s bewildering. How many of them there are, you know, just with a pregnancy and birth of a baby, there were dozens of gods involved who strengthens the baby’s bones, who enables the baby to take its first milk, who enables the baby’s first cry. And at which one enables the baby to take his first breath. This was micromanagement at its finest.
All right. The Romans don’t about one more God. They had thousands of them already. And so what Paul does is he turns the tables on them. He has his own game that he plays and says, this is really about resurrection guys. You know, the reason why I’m here is because I believe in the resurrection of Christ. And so that’s that,
that sort of gets him off the hook a little bit. Now I will say this. When you talk about the resident, resurrection of Christ, in some ways that still is a dividing line. That’s the dividing line from biblical Christians and so-called Christians. Well, he focuses, he focuses on the resurrection in this scene. And what I think Paul does for us is it gives us an example of being willing,
a waiting at every opportunity to defend his beliefs. Of course, Peter makes this much more explicit when he talks about, you know, be ready to make a defense for anyone who gives, you, asked you for a reason, for the hope that is in you. Now, he doesn’t say that to professional apologists and he doesn’t just say it to theologians.
And he doesn’t say it, the Bible professors or Bible instructors, he says, everybody, everybody be ready and willing and able to make that defense for anyone who asks you, why are you a Christian? Now the thing is for a lot of people, why are you a Christian? It turns into how I became a Christian, right? They’re not asking for your testimony,
right? They want to know why you did it, not how you did it. What convinced you, what made you think that the man, the stranger from heaven came down one day was incarnate and died for your sins. We all have to be able to answer that question for anyone who asks us, why we’ve chosen to become followers of Jesus Christ.
Now, Paul gives us a portrait of conviction here in the very last speech we’re going to look at here. Acts chapter 26. You have this hearing before a grip Tema and Paul is biblically focused. He says the scriptures spoke of Christ and that Moses and the prophets foretold his resurrection. Now he appears to refer to some of the same scriptures that Simeon is talking about.
And Luke chapter two, and here I think is where you start to see a familiar pattern emerge in Paul. And that is he chooses points that are essential to the Christian faith, and that are defensible from scripture. He doesn’t seem to waste time with matters of opinion. Now, I would say that’s probably pretty good advice for preachers everywhere, right? Stay with the book,
you know, not, not with your personal stuff. And the thing is he says in verse 22, acts 26, 22, he says that it has his message is what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass. Of course, this is old hat by now in the book of acts appealing to scripture, appealing to prophecy as a kind of evidence for the veracity of what Christ says and who he was.
But it’s also a little bit like what Paul does in letter to the Corinthians first Corinthians two, two, where he says, I resolve to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Now, when you read Paul’s letters, you know, scholars will tell you, this is a man who was very, very familiar with Roman scholarship of the day, the,
the, the, the structure of the letters, the way that he wrote them, the, the, the dialogue, this tells you, Paul was a man of learning and a man of letters, but he didn’t lean on his academic credentials. He didn’t lean on any kind of literary sophistication. What he said was he was going to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified.
So, you know, sometimes the very, very simple message is the best message. And that’s what Paul does here. Well, Paul makes good use of his time. He wants to preach the death and resurrection of Christ. And he says, this is going to be a beacon to Jews and Gentiles alike. And so we have to look at our culture today.
Isn’t that true? You know, what’s the one area of the human experience that is completely unknown. What is the one area where when you experience it, you can’t tell anybody else about it. It’s death, isn’t it? Well, this is the one thing people have wanted to explore since the Dawn of time. You know? So we create as a huge humanity,
human culture, civilization, we create soothsayers. We create prophecies. We create mythological ideas about people who are in the realm of the dead, who for some reason, have an interest in telling people what’s going to happen in the future, which I’ve never been able to figure out why the dead should know it. And the living shouldn’t, that’s always been a mystery to me,
but, but we have, we have that all over the place in the ancient world and in the modern world too. But that’s the thing is that’s that part of the human experience that is going to be a question. Resurrection gives us the answer to the unanswerable question. Well, there’s no wonder why the resurrection should have such appeal to people both then and now,
now Paul frequently mentions the resurrection in his speeches. Many people think of the crucifixion as the key event in salvation history. I think of it as a package deal. You, Paul does tell the Corinthians, if Christ is not raised, you are still in your sins. These things go together. So for some professing, Christians, the resurrection, they don’t believe is necessary.
They think that following the life and teachings of Christ is good enough to live a good life here on earth. And that a belief in a divine Jesus is not required much less one who is going to come back from the dead and returning to the future. But without the resurrection, a noble earthly life is that and nothing more, the resurrection points to a reality beyond the grave.
One that no one who denies the resurrection of Christ will be able to enjoy it is an indispensable part of the Christian faith without which the gospel message is incomplete. Thanks guys.