Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Gospel according to Peter

To recap, we have talked about the elements of the gospel: it was the right time; Jesus' message was concerning the Kingdom; it involved repentance; and it is empowered by the Holy Spirit. See these posts for the series part 1; part 2; part 3. This post actually follows well the previous post, that is, the gospel must be preached.

We move to the gospel message after the resurrection. We have to turn to Acts chapter 2 to see the first announcement of the gospel by the early church. This passage does not have the term "gospel" (euangellion) but you can see how this message puts together some of the elements of the gospel that we have already discussed. It is the message of Peter as he is empowered by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, where many Jews from all over the Greco-Roman world would have gathered.

  • We see that the gospel is empowered by the Holy Spirit (vv. 2-3);
  • It is connected to the Old Testament (vv. 17-21, quoting Joel 2.28-32);
  • It is costly (v. 23, we haven't studied this part yet, but it is coming);
  • Its message is the Kingdom. Peter does not literally call it the Kingdom here, but Peter points to the same evidence that Jesus gave that the Kingdom was at hand (v. 22), plus Jesus' resurrection places him at the right hand of the Father, a position of ultimate authority (v. 33). He is even called by names that both Greeks and Jews would have understood as having ultimate authority (Kurios=Lord, or another name for the emperor and Christ=the messiah or "anointed one" synonymous with the King).

Some additional elements to the message of the gospel:
  • The gospel message contains the account of the suffering and death of Jesus (v. 23).
  • The gospel message contains the message of his resurrection (vv. 24 and 31).
  • The gospel message provokes a response ("Brothers, what shall we do?" verse 37).
  • The response is in line with the original gospel (from Mark 1): Repent and be baptized (v. 38).
  • The result of repentance and baptism: forgiveness of your sin (and your culpability in putting Jesus to the cross) and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (and the power to follow Jesus).

We see that acceptance of this gospel also resulted in being incorporated into the fellowship of the believers (vv. 41-47).

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