In Peter’s first message to the Jews (2:14-47) we see four matters: the explaining of the economical filling of the Holy Spirit (vv. 14-21), the witnessing of the Man Jesus in His work, death, resurrection, and ascension (vv. 22-36), the instructing and entreating of the Spirit-moved ones (vv. 37-41), and the beginning of the church life (vv. 42-47). In the foregoing message we covered Peter’s explanation of the economical filling of the Holy Spirit. Let us now go on to consider his witness concerning the Lord Jesus.
In 2:22 Peter says, “Men, Israelites, hear these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man demonstrated by God to you by works of power and wonders and signs, which God did through Him in your midst, even as you yourselves know.” The first message of the apostles’ preaching of the gospel is focused on a Man whom Luke in his Gospel presented to his readers from His conception through His birth, youth, life on earth, death, and resurrection, to His ascension. Now Luke’s succeeding narrative goes on to tell us that this Man was preached by the apostles as the God-ordained Savior.
The Greek word translated “demonstrated” in verse 22 literally means to point out, to exhibit, to show forth, in the sense of proving by demonstration, thus bringing about an approval. This indicates that the Lord’s work was God’s demonstration of Him, His exhibition of Him. While Christ was living and ministering, whatever He did was an exhibition of the fact that His work was done by God. In the four Gospels we have the exhibition of a wonderful Person, the God-man. The Gospels exhibit this God-man as the One who was fully tested, proved, and approved. Peter’s thought in verse 22 is that Jesus was fully tested, proved, and approved by God.
In 2:23 we see that the Lord’s death was according to God’s determined counsel and foreknowledge: “This man, delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you, through the hand of lawless men, nailed to the cross and killed.” This determined counsel must be a counsel held by the Trinity before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8). This indicates that the Lord’s crucifixion was not an accident in human history, but a purposeful fulfillment of the divine counsel determined by the Triune God.
Christ’s death was also according to the foreknowledge of God. Christ was foreordained, prepared, by God to be His redeeming Lamb (John 1:29) for His elect according to His foreknowledge before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20). This was done according to God’s eternal purpose and plan, not accidentally. Hence, in the eternal view of God, from the foundation of the world, that is, the fall of man as a part of the world, Christ was slain (Rev. 13:8).
We have seen that the divine Trinity held a counsel concerning the death of Christ. In that counsel it was determined that the second of the Trinity would become a man and die on the cross. Therefore, the Lord’s crucifixion, which was according to the foreknowledge of the Triune God, was the result of a determination made by the Trinity in an eternal counsel. Therefore, instead of being an accident, the Lord’s crucifixion took place according to the eternal determination of the Triune God.
Acts 2:23 says that through the hand of lawless men the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross and killed. These lawless men included Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:3-6), chief priests, officers of the temple, elders (Luke 22:52-53), the high priest and the Jewish Sanhedrin (Luke 22:54, 66-71), Pilate, Herod, and the Roman soldiers (Luke 23:1-25)—mainly the Jewish religionists with their deputies and the Gentile politicians with their subordinates. This indicates that Jesus was killed by all mankind.
Acts 2:23 says that the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross. The Jewish death penalty was by stoning (Lev. 20:2, 27; 24:23; Deut. 13:10; 17:5). Crucifixion was a heathen practice (Ezra 6:11), adopted by the Romans for the execution of slaves and heinous criminals only. The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus was not only a fulfillment of the Old Testament (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13; Num. 21:8-9), but also of the Lord’s own word concerning the mode of His death (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32), which could not have been fulfilled by stoning. It was of God’s sovereignty that not long before the Lord Jesus was put to death the Roman Empire made the law that criminals sentenced to death were to be crucified. It was by this kind of death that the Lord was executed.
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