Surveying Peter’s Sermon at the Pentecost event (Acts 2:14-41), by Rev. Dr John Kwasi Fosu


Acts 2:14-41 records Peter’s first sermon in the book of Acts. In this sermon, Peter sought to answer the people charge that the people were drunk. He went on to interpret the speaking in tongues of Pentecost in the light of a quotation from the prophet Joel. Acts 2:22-32 then presents the kerygma or the proclamation of the Good News of Christ. Peter then establishes a relationship between the coming of the Spirit with the Good News of Jesus Christ in Acts 2:33-36 as the last part of his sermon. The main purpose of this study is to analyse Peter’s sermon so that we will be equipped with the know-how of preaching and witnessing Christ.

Peter answers the charge that the people were drunk (Acts 2:14 – 15) – Sermons are to address current issues

Peter first answered their charge that the men were drunk. To Peter, no Jew would eat or drink anything before 9:00 am on a Sabbath or feast day.  It was then the third hour, or 9:00 am. Note that throughout this sermon, Peter addresses Jews only (Act 2:14, 22, 29, and 36). Pentecost was a Jewish feast and there were no Gentiles involved. In this sermon, Peter addressed the Jewish nation and proved to them that their Messiah had been raised from the dead.

Peter interprets the speaking in tongues in the light of Joel 2:28-32 (Acts 2:16-21) – Sermons are to be biblical

In Acts 16 – 21, Peter referred the men to Joel 2:28 – 32. He did not say that this was a fulfillment of the prophecy, for Joel’s words will not be fulfilled until the end of the Tribulation when Jesus returns to earth. Peter does say that this is that same Spirit spoken of by Joel. Verses 17 and 18 took place at Pentecost, but verses 19 – 21 did not, and will not until the end times. Between verses 18 and 19 unfold the entire church age.

Peter explains who Jesus is (Acts 2:22 – 36) – Sermons are to be Christocentric

Peter now proved to the Jews that Jesus was alive. He used five very convincing proofs of the living Messiah:

(1) Jesus’ Person and life demand that He be raised from the dead (verses 22 – 24 and John 10:17 – 18). He who raised others could not remain dead himself.

(2) Psalm 16:8 – 11 predicted the resurrection (verses 25-31).

(3) The apostles themselves were witnesses and had seen the risen Lord Jesus (verse 32).

(4) The coming of the Spirit is proof that Jesus is alive (verse 33).

(5) Psalm 110:1 promised His resurrection (verses 33 – 35). It appears here that Peter was not preaching the Gospel of the cross as we preach it today. Instead he was accusing Israel of a great crime (verse 23) and warning them that they had rejected and crucified their own Messiah (verse 36). Peter was giving Israel one more opportunity to receive the Messiah. They had slain John the Baptist and Jesus, but God was now giving them another chance. The resurrection of Jesus is likened to the promised “sign of Jonah” that proved Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 12:38 – 40).

Peter applies the message to the existential needs of the people (verses 37 – 40) – Sermons are to be applicable and thus relevant to the needs of the hearers

The men were convicted and asked Peter for counsel. Peter told them to repent, believe, and be baptized. In that way, they would be identifying themselves with Jesus as the Messiah. This is the same message John the Baptist (Mark 1:4) and Jesus (Matthew 4:17) preached. To make baptism essential for salvation and the receiving of the Spirit is to deny the experience of the Gentiles in Acts 10:44 –48, which is God’s pattern for today. The Jews in Acts 2 received the Spirit when they repented and were baptized.  The Samaritans in Acts 8 received the Spirit by the laying on of the apostles’ hands.  However, believers today receive the Spirit when they believe, as did the Gentiles in Acts 10. There is no salvation in the waters of baptism, for salvation is by faith in Jesus.

Peter stated that the promise of the Spirit was not only for the Jews present in Jerusalem but also for the Jews scattered abroad (verse 39 and Daniel 9:7).


This material has focused on studying Peter’s first sermon in the Acts of the Apostle. In this sermon, Peter responded to the charge that the believers were drunk as they spoke in tongues. Thereafter, Peter sought to link the phenomenon of speaking in tongues to the event prescribed in Joel 2 and went on to explain who Jesus was to the people. Peter did not conclude his message without making a relevant application of his message to the lives and needs of the people. It is important to study this passage serving as a recorded sermon of Peter if we desire to share the gospel message in contemporary times. In this light, the gospel message must be current, biblically based, Christocentric, and contextualized. Thus, it must meet the needs of the people.

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