All Scripture quotes are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
29 Brethren, I may say unto you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us unto this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he would set one upon his throne; 31 he foreseeing this spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear. 34 For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.
The discussion about the baptism of the Spirit in Part One was necessary, because a false or incomplete understanding about that, prevents one from seeing the whole picture of what occurred on the Day of Pentecost. Therefore if you haven’t already read Part One, please do so. Here’s the link:
The objective of the study is to discuss the words of Peter as he reveals the wider picture of that day as it relates to the Kingdom of Christ.
Before we get directly into our text, we first need to back up to the beginning of the book of Acts:
1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, 2 until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 to whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God: 4 and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: 5 for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence. 6 They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority. 8 But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
You’ll note that Luke mentions the fact that Jesus was speaking to His Apostles about the kingdom of God after His resurrection. You’ll also note right before Jesus ascended back to the Father, they asked Him about the restoration of “the kingdom to Israel.”
Many believe that Jesus ignored the Apostles question. However, I think the evidence reveals otherwise. Notice that after each mention of the kingdom, the Holy Spirit (the promise of the Father) is also mentioned in the same context. I believe this gives us a clue about the Kingdom of God.
Before I go any further, I want to address the meaning of the Kingdom of God. I believe the Kingdom of God is a general term that refers to one of the various forms of God’s Kingdom: The spiritual Kingdom we enter into upon regeneration, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of Christ, and the Eternal Kingdom. Context (perhaps in combination with other passages) must determine which kingdom the speaker/writer is specifically referring to.
It’s not the purpose of this study to do a detailed study of the various aspects of the Kingdom of God. Our focus is specifically on the Kingdom of Christ (Messiah), which is what the Apostles were asking Jesus about.
Returning to our discussion, I believe that both Jesus and Luke are giving us a clue about the Kingdom of Christ, that it’s directly related to the baptism in the Holy Spirit which occurred on the Day of Pentecost. I don’t believe Jesus was ignoring their question, I believe He was revealing the form in which His kingdom would appear.
At this point, the spiritual eyes of the Apostles were not yet fully opened. That wouldn’t happen until Pentecost. Some may object to that by pointing out what Luke said in the following passage:
44 And he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their mind, that they might understand the scriptures; 46 and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 Ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.
It’s true that Jesus opened their minds of understanding at this point (before His ascension), but it seems clear that their understanding was limited to His death and resurrection, and of the salvation that He would provide for the world. Notice that in verse 49 Jesus refers to the “promise of the Father” that they were to receive, which occurred at Pentecost. It wasn’t until that day that their minds would be opened to a much wider revelation regarding spiritual matters and God’s plan for His people, as Jesus Himself confirms:
25 These things have I spoken unto you, while yet abiding with you. 26 But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you. 8 And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more; 11 of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you.
From the words of Jesus Himself, it’s clear that His disciples would not receive the Holy Spirit until after He had ascended back to the Father. It’s also clear that the receiving of the Spirit would occur on the Day of Pentecost, for He told them to tarry in the city of Jerusalem for the “promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4l; Acts 2:1-4). Therefore, it’s further clear that before Jesus ascended, and before Pentecost, the disciples understanding regarding spiritual matters and God’s plan for His people was still very limited in scope.
The point is, even though Jesus spoke to His Apostles about “things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3), they still didn’t fully understand what Jesus was teaching them about it at that time. That understanding wasn’t given until the Day of Pentecost.
In review from Part One, Pentecost was about more than simply receiving power to witness. It was about receiving the Holy Spirit Himself — which brought us into union with Christ and His Church. It was the receiving and baptism of the Spirit, that both the Church and the Kingdom of Christ was established — for the Church is Christ’s Kingdom.
Jesus told His disciples that He would come to them, and He did so in the Person of the Holy Spirit. At that point, they were also baptized into Christ and into His Church. It’s this baptism that brought us into union with both. The Church came into existence at that time. The disciples were given power to witness (through both their words and life) because they now had the Holy Spirit dwelling within them and were united with Christ spiritually. Christ’s kingdom could now be expanded throughout the world in the power of the Holy Spirit.
To be clear, I believe the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ of the New Covenant should be understood as a series of events, rather than a single event. I believe those events are as follows: the baptism of Jesus; ministry of Jesus; death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus; the tearing of the temple curtain; the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost; the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70. However, the Church itself began at Pentecost. Thus, the Kingdom of Christ was fully formed at that time. The destruction of Jerusalem and its temple would be the final outward sign to Israel that His kingdom had come.
So, while limited in their understanding regarding the Kingdom of Christ before His ascension and before Pentecost, Peter gives evidence that his eyes of understanding about it was now fully opened on this glorious day.
As a side note, I believe that in the following passages, Jesus was referring to the Day of Pentecost:
28 Verily I say unto you, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.(NET)
1 Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power. (NET)
27 But I tell you of a truth, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. (NET)
Some believe that this was fulfilled in AD 70, with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Others believe Jesus was referring to the Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-9; Mark 9:1-9; Luke 9:28-36). Others, like myself, believe it was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. To properly interpret this, we first need to identify who was present when Jesus made this statement. We don’t see everyone present in the Matthew or Luke passages (Matt 16:24-28; Luke 9:23-27), so we need to go to Mark:
34 Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it. 36 For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life? 37 What can a person give in exchange for his life? 38 For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” 9:1 And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” (NET)
It was not just the twelve disciples who were present. There was also a “crowd” of people, and most likely a very large crowd, as Jesus always attracted a large number of people. Within that crowd, there were probably many believers. The knowledge of a crowd of people present, enables us to interpret what Jesus said with confidence. When He said “there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power,” it was out of that crowd of people that He was referring to — more specifically, among those who believed.
Therefore, what Jesus was actually revealing is that there were only a few people among them who would actually “see” the Kingdom of God “coming” – as happened on the Day of Pentecost – before they died. The rest of those who believed among the crowd, who were not present at Pentecost, they did not “see” the “coming” of God’s kingdom. While we all as believers experience the Kingdom of God after Pentecost – having received the Holy Spirit and baptized into the body of Christ (the Church) – only a few of the believers of that day actually witnessed the “coming” of it on that day (“with power”), as Acts chapter two describes. The rest of the believers who were in the crowd, died without seeing the coming of God’s kingdom at Pentecost.
The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, which is the Church. More specifically, the Church is the Kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13). The Church as we know it and experience it, began on the day of Pentecost. Only a small number of believers actually witnessed the initial coming of it on that day (about 120 people). The rest of those who believed in Jesus’ day, died without seeing it. In other words, they weren’t present to witness all that transpired on that day.
Returning to our text, to be clear, what we’re seeing at Pentecost is the beginning of the Church, which is the Kingdom of Christ, as Peter himself indicates in our text (Acts 2:29-36).
While Peter didn’t have complete understanding of the Kingdom of Christ before Pentecost, he most certainly understood it then, having received the Holy Spirit. We’ll go through this passage verse by verse. However, I would encourage you to read all of Acts 1 and 2 so you’ll see the context in which this part of Peter’s sermon is given:
30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he would set one upon his throne;
The Jews were looking for their Messiah (and still are today) to come and set up His kingdom, where He would reign on the throne of David as King. Peter is addressing that very thing here. He begins to reveal at this point that Jesus is, in fact, upon that throne now.
32 This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear.
Peter continues and declares to all the Jews present that Jesus is at the right hand of God now, referring to the throne that Jesus sits upon. Notice that again, for the third time, that the kingdom is associated with the “promise of the Holy Spirit” (we already discussed the first two times). In other words, having received the Holy Spirit, and having been brought into union with Christ and His Church, Jesus now sits upon His throne, in His kingdom. With careful consideration of Peter’s words, I believe that is the proper interpretation. Further confirmation follows:
34 For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet.
This statement by Peter is huge, as it’s a parallel passage with 1 Corinthians 15, which I’ve already written about. Compare what Peter says here in Acts with what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.
If you haven’t read my post on this passage of Scripture yet, I encourage you to do so, as both Peter and Paul confirm that the Kingdom of Christ is now, that Jesus is reigning as King now:
13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love;
Here’s the link:
A close examination of both of these texts reveals that the Church of Christ and the Kingdom of Christ, are one and the same – which is a spiritual kingdom.
The Jews were looking for an earthly kingdom where their Messiah would rule from the throne of David. Peter, now having an accurate understanding of that kingdom, is revealing to them what was revealed to him:
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.
Peter wants the whole house if Israel to know that “God has made him both Lord and Christ.” In other words, as properly interpreted within the context, Christ is King….and He’s ruling now.
The Apostle John, who provided most of the foundation for this study, confirms what Peter revealed in this passage in the book of Revelation, and I’ll end with that:
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits that are before his throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood; 6 and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Taken alone, this passage in Acts may not be convincing enough for some, but when you compare it with our study of 1 Corinthians 15, the combination of the two provides a very strong case for the Kingdom Now position, that there is no future earthly, millennial kingdom — as Premillennialism teaches. As we continue to study other passages as we go along, that position will become even stronger, and difficult to refute.
Final Word about the Baptism of the Spirit
The whole purpose of our discussion about the baptism of the Spirit, is to show that this was a one-time event, which brought us into union with Christ and His Church, as individual members of His Body. It’s to show that this is what brought Christ’s Church and His Kingdom into existence. Pentecost was a monumental day in the Plan of God for His people. It was not merely a time of receiving God’s power for service. In other words, it was not merely a baptism for power. To limit Pentecost to the receiving of God’s power – and to be used as a pattern for us today – falls woefully short of everything that occurred on that glorious day. Once we understand all that transpired on that day, it eliminates the idea that is was just about receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. The speaking in tongues (in the foreign languages of those in attendance) was the outward sign that the Holy Spirit had come, and that the Church of Christ and His Kingdom had been fully inaugurated.
To be clear, ever since the receiving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, everyone who receives Christ as Lord and Savior, also receives the Holy Spirit — who provides all believers with His power for service and living the Christian life, as we yield to Him. There is no “second experience” involved. But rather His power is always available to all of those whom He indwells.
The reason the believers at Pentecost received the power of the Holy Spirit is because they received the Holy Spirit Himself. He was not given until then, and so they didn’t have His power until then. For sure, a select few believers in Christ received power before the cross (Luke 10:1012, 17-20), but that should be understood in the same sense that the power of the Holy Spirit was given to selected OT believers for temporary tasks. Ever since believers received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, His power has always been available at all times for every Christian — not just a temporary empowerment, or just for a select few.
We cannot live for Christ or serve Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the idea that we need a “second experience,” is completely contradictory. If a Christian never experiences this second experience, how is he or she able to live for Christ? Or to grow in Christ? Or to understand His Word? Whatever God commands us to do, He empowers us to do. Whatever tasks He assigns, He also provides the power. Whom He calls, He empowers. Furthermore, every Christian receives at least one spiritual gift. What gifts the Holy Spirit gives, He also provides the power to use them. There’s no need to seek or to wait for a second experience — as many Christians have been taught.