Peter’s Pentecostal sermon was very different than what you might hear in today’s so-called Pentecostal churches. The main differences are that…

#1) Peter’s Pentecostal sermon refutes the rumors of his day about believers being drunk instead of inviting people to be drunk in the Spirit…

#2) It exalts the name of Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy instead of exalting the Holy Spirit or the gifts and talents he distributes and…

#3) It ultimately calls people to trust in the crucified, risen, and returning Christ for salvation instead of calling people to some euphoric and psychologically manipulative experience while singing the same verse of a theologically incorrect song (such as Reckless Love) repetitively for fifteen minutes.

Look at the passage with me…

14But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 22Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know – 23this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24God raised him up, loosing the pains of death, because it was not possible to be held by it. 25For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence. 29Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”


As Peter begins to preach, he essentially refutes any notion that the disciples are drunk at nine-o-clock in the morning. You may remember previously that the Holy Spirit had showed up in a miraculous and powerful way with the sound of rushing wind and tongues of fire resting on the disciples’ heads as they began to speak in all the unknown languages of the world (2:1 – 13).

The disciples were literally given the power to witness to the work of our crucified, risen, and returning Savior in all the known languages of that time period and some people responded to this phenomenon by mocking the disciples and accusing them of early morning drunkenness.

And in Peter’s introductory remarks, he refutes the accusation (vv. 14 – 15) and in an even further display of power, he begins to preach a sermon that explains what is happening by showing them that Jesus is the reason for what is happening, and that this truth was supported by the prophet Joel and the writings of King David in the Psalms.


In verses 16 – 24, Peter literally preaches from the book of the prophet Joel to prove that what everyone was seeing and hearing on that Pentecost morning was in fact a mighty move of the Spirit of God who was sent to exalt the name of Jesus as our crucified, risen, and returning Savior.

In verses 16 – 18, Peter explains that the prophet Joel foresaw this very day as a day when the Spirit of God would enable his people (both male and female) to prophecy (mentioned twice), see visions, and have dreams. The emphasis here is on the ability to prophecy or to boldly speak the truth regarding Jesus to the ends of the earth. This is exactly what was happening as the disciples spoke in tongues unknown to them but very known to the many people gathered from all over the world. Let’s not forget the power of the Spirit being manifest through Peter who just fifty days ago was denying and cursing the name of Christ but is now preaching powerfully and courageously to more than 3,000 gathered people among whom were those who were responsible for the murder of Jesus (v. 23).

In verses 19 – 21, Peter explains that the prophet Joel had not only foreseen this day but that he also foresaw another day in the future when Christ will return on the day of judgement and on that day, there will only be one hope for all of mankind. That one hope will rest on whether or not someone has received salvation by calling upon the name of the Lord by faith in the finished work of Christ.

In verses 22 – 24, now that Peter has brought his audience to the truth of the day of judgement as prophesied by the prophet Joel, he turns his attention more specifically to our crucified, risen, and returning Savior, and he courageously confronts those in his audience who were responsible for murdering Jesus. He points out that Jesus’ life was marked by the power of God (v. 22), that he was murdered according to the “definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (v. 23), that he was murdered by ungodly men (v. 23), and that he was raised from the dead on the third day (v. 24).

I am certain that you could hear a pin drop in these moments as Peter preached from the prophet Joel and showed that everything that was happening on this Pentecostal morning was nothing less than the work of Jesus through his very own Spirit as he gave the disciples the power to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the known earth.

#3: PETER PREACHES PSALMS 16 AND 110 (VV. 25 – 36)

In verses 25 – 36, Peter preaches portions of Psalms 16 and 110 and the main point that he makes is that, though Jesus was unlawfully murdered by some of the people in his audience, this same Jesus left the tomb empty, ascended into heaven, rules over all creation, and that he is both the King and the Savior that David spoke of many years ago.

In verses 25 – 28, Peter quotes King David from Psalm 16:8 – 11 and he makes it clear that David was speaking about how Jesus was not abandoned to the grave and that his future resurrected presence filled David with guidance and gladness.

In verses 29 – 32, Peter further explains his interpretation of Psalm 16 with sound logic as he reminds his audience that David was not speaking of himself because his grave full of bones is just down the road, but Jesus’ grave was empty and that all the disciples had witnessed his resurrection.

In verses 33 – 36, Peter moves from Psalm 16 to Psalm 110 in speaking of the resurrected Christ who is (according to v. 36“both Lord (the Greek word for Yahweh) and Christ (the Greek word for Savior)”. And not only that, but this Jesus, who is both King and Savior, he is the one who received the Holy Spirit from the Father and he has now poured out the Holy Spirit upon his followers to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (v. 33). This is the Jesus whom they murdered, who is resurrected, who is ascended, who is returning on the day of judgment to deal with his enemies, and he is the same Jesus (Lord) whom they need to call upon for salvation before that dreadful day arrives (v. 21).


What Peter has done here, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is to preach a Christ exalting sermon from both the prophet Joel and the Psalms. His main emphasis all along is that the disciples are not drunk in the early hours of the morning but instead, they have been given the dynamite ability to proclaim the crucified, risen, and returning Christ to the nations in fulfillment of the prophecies of Joel and King David. God the Father was literally pouring out his Spirit through his Son so that the gospel could be proclaimed to the ends of the Earth beginning in Jerusalem.

Most commentators focus on the Christ centeredness of Peter’s Pentecostal sermon as the inauguration of the age of the Spirit at work in the true church.2 Most of those same commentaries also focus on how “this” New Testament passage (and the rest of the NT as well) is all based on “that” which we saw in all the Old Testament redemptive history.3 Peter is definitely preaching the inaugural sermon of the age of the Spirit Filled Church and he is definitely explaining that the “this” of the NT is the fulfillment of “that” from the OT. The Scriptures are a unique and wonderfully woven tapestry that centers on the person and work of Jesus.

Upon hearing all of this, Luke tells us in verse 37 that Peter’s listeners “were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” This is the best question anyone could ask after hearing Peter’s sermon. If someone hears this sermon and does not ask “What should I do?” then that is evidence of a hardened heart that is full of worldly pleasures and deadly sin. Peter’s answer, as we will see next week, is simple: Repent, be baptized as a public confession of your faith in Christ and receive the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of your salvation. On that day, 3,000 people surrendered to Jesus and were baptized as a public confession of their faith in Christ. What a magnificent day!

If you are hearing this message and you have not surrendered to Jesus, you are no different than the lawless men who nailed Jesus to the cross because those nails and that cross and the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus were there because of you and I. Jesus died upon that tree to pay the ransom for our sins so that by faith, we might become saints. The only thing you must do is admit your sin, believe in Christ’s finished work at the cross, and confess your faith in his promises to save you, to transform you, and to return for you in the future.

If you are hearing this message and you are a believer, I pray this message gives you a renewed sense of awe and joy in the work of our crucified, risen, and returning Savior. I also pray that it renews your hunger for God’s Word. Peter’s Pentecostal Sermon was preached to many who thought they had it together and even thought they were right to murder Jesus. Religion will not save you; only Jesus saves and the best evidence that you have been saved is a transformed life like Peter’s and a radical boldness to share the gospel like the disciples.

I pray that Peter’s Pentecostal sermon will move some of you to true salvation as you call upon the name of Christ and that it moves others of you to a renewed hunger and passion for God’s Word and for sharing Jesus with everyone around you. Amen!

Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).

2 R. Kent Hughes, Acts: The Church Afire, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 1996), 37 – 43.

3 Derek W. H. Thomas, Acts, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2011), 39 – 52.