Psalm 110:1 and Acts 2:38

Now that I am basically finished with my work on the Spirit in the Old Testament, I’m pressing on with the intention of examining every reference to the Spirit in the New Testament. This project is to complete a manuscript tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology for submission to the Pentecostal Publishing House by April 30 of this year. I hope, but cannot promise, that this book will be published in time for the general conference of the United Pentecostal Church International later this year.

At this moment, I’m working on chapter twenty, “The Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus.” I want to be very diligent in my treatment of Acts 2, where Peter announced, after referring to Psalm 132:11, “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” (Acts 2:32-33).

It is essential to note here that it was Jesus who poured out the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, a profound insight in view of Peter’s quotation from Joel 2, which affirms that God said, “I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh . . . I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Acts 2:17-18). A look at the context of these words in Joel confirms that the word God refers to Yahweh. (See Joel 2:27, where Yahweh [sometimes pronounced as Jehovah] is rendered LORD).

Like you, I’ve read Acts 2 many times. But this time, wanting to pay careful attention to the fact that the Spirit was poured out by Jesus, I was captured by the fact that the final verse Peter quoted from the Old Testament, in a message rich in quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures, was the verse quoted, paraphrased, or alluded to more frequently in the New Testament than any other, Psalm 110:1. There was something about this verse that cut those who heard Peter to the heart, prompting them to say, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s answer is found, of course, in Acts 2:38.

What could there be in Psalm 110:1 that provoked such a response from Peter’s hearers? Here are Peter’s words:

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 (Acts 2:34-36).

You can find my comments on Psalm 110 in the Apostolic Study Bible, published by Word Aflame Press. But as I continued to work on the relationship between Psalm 110 and Acts 2, I noticed the similarity between between Peter’s words in Acts 2:32-38 and in Acts 5:30-32:

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.

In both cases, Peter’s message is essentially the same. It focuses on the resurrection of Jesus, His exaltation as announced in Psalm 110:1, the consequence of which is the requirement of repentance, the promise of forgiveness, and the promise of the Holy Spirit for those who obey. Although Peter did not specifically mention baptism in this case, this is understood in the word “obey,” an apparent reference to the response of those who repented and were baptized as he commanded in Acts 2:38.

One of the resources I’ve looked at in my work is the book Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and coming of Israel’s King. The book is written by Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2012). Bateman is professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Darrell L. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society; Johnston is professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.

I think you would enjoy Bock’s comments on the last section of Peter’s words in Acts 2:

The allusion to Psalm 132:11 with its roots in 2 Samuel 7 points to God foreseeing, through the prophet David’s utterance, the resurrection of Christ (2:31), which leads to the exaltation of Jesus through the vindication of God to God’s right hand, where Psalm 110:1 is the key text. The proper response to this message is being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (2:38). Now authority for forgiveness comes from God through Jesus and is not associated with regular sacrifices. Now forgiveness, a right of God to grant, comes through the name of Jesus, the One who is Lord and Christ [page 409].

And, by the way, the book also points out, on pages 94-95, that “the image of God’s right hand was often metaphorical for God’s power or favor.”

This is a major project, but I’m enjoying the work and some new discoveries along the way. The time to develop a new book is one of the great benefits of retirement![archive]