What did the Apostle Peter really believe about Jesus?
An Examination of Peter’s Christological Views
It is common to find anti-Trinitarians, especially Muslim dawagandists, appealing to the following NT text to disprove the Deity of the Lord Jesus:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.” Acts 2:22
It is asserted that Peter’s proclamation shows that neither he nor his companions believed that Jesus was their Lord God. Peter’s words testify that Jesus’ followers actually taught that he was only a man whom God anointed with power to perform miracles and to carry out his mission.
Since this text is often quoted against the historic Christian view we felt it necessary to write an article analyzing what the Apostle Peter taught overall concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. We want to examine all of Peter’s words as recorded within the NT so as to see whether this eyewitness companion of Christ preached that Jesus was merely a human being whom God worked through, or did he actually believe that Christ is the Divine Son of God who became man in order to bring about the redemption of God’s people.
After all, no informed Trinitarian denies that Jesus was a genuine flesh and blood human being whom God empowered to accomplish his purpose. What we deny is the assertion that this is all that Jesus is or that the disciples such as Peter believed only this much about Christ and nothing more. To, therefore, cite a text where an eyewitness emphasizes the real humanity of the Lord Jesus, or his servant role while on earth, does nothing to refute the historic Christian position. It simply shows a gross ignorance of the historic Christian faith or an unwillingness to allow for the NT to proclaim that Jesus is both God and man simultaneously.
What the anti-Trinitarian must do is to quote verses proving that the disciples believed that Jesus was nothing more than a Spirit-empowered man, a mere human Messiah as a opposed to a Divine One who chose to become a flesh and blood human being.
With the foregoing in view we begin our analysis by first examining Peter’s words as recorded within the canonical book of Acts to see whether the first generation of Christians believed that Jesus was nothing more than a human Messiah, or did they proclaim him to be the Divine Son of God Incarnate.
Jesus – The Risen and Exalted Lord, the Author of Life, and the Holy and Righteous One
According to the inspired writing of Acts Peter testified that Jesus was put to death in accord with God’s set purpose and decree and was then resurrected back to life:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know — this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it… Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that his soul was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” Acts 2:22-24, 30-32
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33-34
“You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached — how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen — by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” Acts 10:37-41
Peter also taught that Christ is the Author of Life, the Holy and Righteous Servant of God:
“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant Jesus (edoxasen ton paido autou ’Iesoun). You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Acts 3:13-15
Peter says something similar in the Gospel of John:
“‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’” John 6:67-69
The statement that Jesus is the Author of Life means that Christ is the Source and Giver of life, having been the One who brought eternal salvation through his death on the cross and resurrection. This is a point that is repeatedly made all through the NT documents:
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will… Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself,” John 5:21, 25-26
“‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ … So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.’” John 6:50-51, 53-58
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.’” John 11:25-27
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.’” John 14:6
“Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus before time began, and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8-10
“Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,” Hebrews 5:8-9
It also refers to Jesus revealing or bringing the words or commands which lead to eternal life, just as Peter stated in John 6:68 and further corroborated by the following verses:
“It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63
“If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me.” John 12:47-50
Moreover, Peter’s reference to Jesus as God’s Servant is a direct allusion to Isaiah’s Suffering Servant:
“Behold, my Servant (ho pais mou) shall understand, and be exalted (hypsothesetai), and glorified (doxasthesetai) exceedingly. As many shall be amazed at thee, so shall thy face be without glory from men, and thy glory shall not be honoured by the sons of men. Thus shall many nations wonder at him; and kings shall keep their mouths shut: for they to whom no report was brought concerning him, shall see; and they who have not heard, shall consider. O Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the Arm of the Lord been revealed? We brought a report as of a child before him; he is as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins (houton tas hamartian hemon), and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed (to molopi autou hemeis iathmen). All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins. And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb (hos amnos) before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death. And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practised no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth. The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed: the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to shew him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins. Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities.” Isaiah 52:13-53:12 LXX
According to the inspired prophet not only does the Servant justify and save the people by dying a vicarious death in order to offer his life as a guilt offering, he is even exalted to the throne of Yahweh himself!
Isaiah uses this very language of being lifted up or exalted to describe Yahweh’s rule over creation:
“And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, that I saw the Lord sitting on a high (hypselou) and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:1
“The God who dwells on high (hypselois) is holy: Sion is filled with judgment and righteousness.” Isaiah 33:5
“Thus saith the Lord Most High (kyrios ho hypsistos), who dwells on high (hypselois) for ever, Holy in the holies, is his name, the Lord Most High (kyrios ho hypsistos) resting in the holies, and giving patience to the faint-hearted, and giving life to the broken-hearted:” Isaiah 57:15
The prophet further says that Yahweh is the only One who is/will be exalted:
“For the eyes of the Lord are high, but man is low; and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low, and the Lord ALONE shall be exalted (kai hypsothesetai kyrios monos) in that day… And every man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall fall: and the Lord ALONE shall be exalted (kai hypsothesetai kyrios monos) in that day.” Isaiah 2:11, 17 LXX
And yet Yahweh’s Servant is also exalted like Yahweh!
Peter not only adopted the very language of Isaiah to refer to Jesus’ exaltation, he also referenced Psalm 110:1 to describe Jesus’ enthronement:
“Exalted (hypsotheis) to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.” Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Acts 2:33-36
“The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead — whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted (hypsosen) him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.” Acts 5:30-31
And in his inspired epistle the Apostle brings out the implication of what being exalted to God’s right hand means and shows us what such a status looks like:
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit… Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.” 1 Peter 3:18, 21-22
Peter proclaimed that Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand resulted in Christ becoming the Sovereign Lord and Judge of all creation. Thus, to be seated at God’s right hand is to have complete authority and rule over all creation, just as the other blessed and inspired Apostle Paul wrote:
“and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23
“For in him the whole entire fulness of Deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority… If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 2:9-10, 3:1
In his inspired letter Peter also appealed to the language of Isaiah 53 to describe Jesus’ vicarious death:
“You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb (hos amnou) without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins (hos tas hamartias hemon autos) in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed (hou to molopi autou iathete). For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:21-25
A comparison of the Greek words used in both the Greek version of Isaiah 53 and that of 1 Peter conclusively demonstrates that the inspired Apostle was drawing from this specific Isaianic passage in his discussion of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice.
What the above data shows is that God’s inspired prophets had already announced centuries before the blessed Apostles did that Yahweh would send his glorious Servant to atone for the sins of mankind and to subsequently share in the very rule of God over all creation!
Thus, both the Old and New Testaments are consistent in their testimony concerning the Divine Person and work of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, a consistency that provides a rather strong and persuasive case for the Divine inspiration and veracity of these very sacred Scriptures.
The Omniscient Lord
According to Acts, both Peter and the other disciples worshiped Jesus as their omniscient Lord!
“In the first book, O The-oph'ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus (ho Iesous) began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen (tois apostolois … hous ekelekato). To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord (kyrie), will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ … In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, ‘Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry. (Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Akel'dama, that is, Field of Blood.) For it is written in the book of Psalms, “Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it”; and “His office let another take.” So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus (ho kyrios Iesous) went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us -- one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.’ And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsab'bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthi'as. And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men (su kyrie kardiognosta panton), show which one of these two you have chosen (ekelekto) to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi'as; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:1-6, 15-26
The context proves beyond any dispute that the Lord whom Peter and the rest of the disciples were praying to is Christ, the very One who chose them and whom they were now asking to reveal Judas’ replacement.
Thus, not only did Peter and the first Christians – all of whom were Jews – pray to the risen Lord they also believed that he knows the hearts of all men! This isn’t the only time that Peter made such a confession:
“His disciples said, ‘Ah, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure! Now we know that you know all things (hoti oidas panta), and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?’” John 16:30-31
“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything (kyrie, panta su oidas); you know (su ginoskeis) that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” John 21:17
And yet according to Peter himself this is a knowledge which belongs to God!
“And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, ‘Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God who knows the heart (kai ho kardiognostes theos) bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us;” Acts 15:7-8
Peter wasn’t the only follower who taught that God alone knows and searches the hearts. For instance, the blessed Paul spoke of God searching hearts:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27
And the Apostle John used similar language to describe the knowledge of God:
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything (kai ginoskei panta).” 1 John 3:19-20
As does the apocryphal Jewish literature:
“Who has gone up into heaven, and taken her, and brought her down from the clouds? Who has gone over the sea, and found her, and will buy her for pure gold? No one knows the way to her, or is concerned about the path to her. But he who knows all things (alla ho eidos ta panta) knows her, he found her by his understanding.” Baruch 3:29-32
Nor was Peter alone in praying to the risen Lord Jesus:
“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59-60
“Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani'as. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Anani'as.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Anani'as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Anani'as answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon YOUR Name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry MY Name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of MY Name.’ So Anani'as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ … And in the synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ And all who heard him were amazed, and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem on those who called on this Name? And he has come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests.’” Acts 9:10-17, 20-21
The ones whom Paul was persecuting weren’t Jews who were calling on Yahweh’s name, since he was a faithful Torah-observant Jew who loved and worshiped the God of Israel. Rather, he was persecuting the Jewish Christians who were calling on the name of Jesus in prayer!
Amazingly, Paul later joins those who called on the name of the Lord Jesus in their worship of the risen Lord:
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:” 1 Corinthians 1:2
Jesus himself told his followers that once he returned to his Father his disciples could then pray to him directly and that he would personally answer them:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14
Hence, these believers prayed to the Lord Jesus in the same way that OT saints prayed to God!
“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” Genesis 21:33
“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.” Psalm 31:5
“Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his testimonies, and the statutes that he gave them.” Psalm 99:6-7
“And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” Joel 2:32
This conclusively shows that the very first Jewish Christians worshiped Jesus as their risen Lord who knows everything!
The Lord who saves and forgives
According to the Hebrew Bible, forgiveness of sins and atonement come from believing in the name of Yahweh God:
“For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” Psalm 25:11
“Save me, O God, by your name, and vindicate me by your might.” Psalm 54:1
“They remembered that God was their Rock, the Most High God their Redeemer. But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not true to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity, and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often, and did not stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.” Psalm 78:35-39
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake!” Psalm 79:9
The OT prophetic writings also stress the fact that it is Yahweh who gives and pours out his Spirit upon his people (cf. Isaiah 59:20-21; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-32).
Peter, however, believed that Jesus is the One who does all of these things! For instance, after quoting God’s promise in Joel 2:28-32 to pour out his Spirit on the people and to save all who would call on his name:
“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”’” Acts 2:14-21
Peter went on to proclaim that it is Jesus who pours out God’s Spirit from heaven! Peter also preached that it is faith in the name of Jesus and the grace that he bestows that brings about forgiveness of sins and salvation since he is the Savior of all men:
"Exalted to the right hand of God, he received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.’ … Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.’” Acts 2:33, 38-39
“When God raised up his Servant (ton paida autou), he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Acts 3:26
“God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:31-32
“‘All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.” Acts 10:43-48
“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” Acts 11:15-17
“After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ‘Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.’” Acts 15:7-11
This now leads us to the next section.
The Name above all names that has power to heal and perform miracles
Peter and the rest of the Apostles healed people and performed miracles in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and INSTANTLY the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?… By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. Acts 3:1-12, 16
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’ When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.’ Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.” Acts 4:8-22
“Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood.’ Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’” Acts 5:27-28
“As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. ‘Aeneas,’ Peter said to him, ‘Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.’ Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” Acts 9:32-35
“Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.” Acts 9:40-43
The Returning Sovereign Judge
Peter further proclaimed that Christ would return in order to usher in the regeneration and restoration of creation, and is the very One whom all the prophets spoke of:
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven UNTIL the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’ Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’” Acts 3:19-25
Peter also believed that Jesus will judge the living and the dead because he is the Lord of all,
“And Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead.’” Acts 10:34-42
Contrast this to what the Apostle Paul wrote:
“For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” Romans 14:9
And according to Paul this event will take place at the last day or day of resurrection:
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
Some Additional Data from the Petrine Epistles
Peter wrote in his first epistle that the Spirit of Christ is the Holy Spirit who inspired the OT prophets to predict the sufferings and glory of the Lord Jesus:
“The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” 1 Peter 1:10-12
What makes this a rather astonishing and remarkable statement is that the OT testifies that it was Yahweh’s Spirit who spoke through and inspired the prophets:
“Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel: ‘The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me, his word is upon my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God,’” 2 Samuel 23:1-3
“Many years you did bear with them, and did warn them by YOUR Spirit through your prophets; yet they would not give ear. Therefore you did give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.” Nehemiah 9:30
“They made their hearts like adamant lest they should hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by HIS Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 7:12
To, therefore, say that it was Christ’s Spirit who lived within the prophets to enable them to announce Christ’s coming is to identify Jesus with Yahweh God!
Remarkably, Peter even takes OT texts that speak of Yahweh and applies them to Christ! For instance, according to the OT believers are to taste the goodness of Yahweh,
“O taste and see that Yahweh LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8
And they are to regard Yahweh as holy and fear him, since he is a stone of offense and rock of stumbling!
“Do not call conspiracy all that this people call conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But Yahweh of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary, and a stone of offense, and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Isaiah 8:12-14
However, Peter believes that Jesus is the Lord whose goodness believers taste. He is also the living Stone rejected by men, being the stone of offense and the rock that causes to stumble:
“Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the goodness (chrestos) of the Lord. Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (‘Iesou Christou). For it stands in scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,’ and ‘A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall’; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” 1 Peter 2:2-8
Peter further exhorts the believers not to fear what unbelievers fear, but to regard Christ the Lord as holy and fear him:
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and fear, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:14-15
Once again, the only way that Peter could apply these OT texts to the Lord Jesus is if he believed that Christ is Yahweh God (yet not the Father or the Holy Spirit)!
This pattern of applying to the Lord Jesus specific OT texts and language that speak of Yahweh continues in Peter’s second inspired epistle (despite the fact that some critical scholars deny that Peter actually wrote this letter).
For example, the blessed Peter speaks of obtaining saving faith as a result of the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, the Lord whose kingdom is eternal:
“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (tou theou hemon kai soteros ‘Iesou Christou): May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (kai ‘Iesou tou kyriou hemon)… Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (tou kyriou hemon kai soteros ‘Iesou Christou).” 2 Peter 1:1-2, 10-11; cf. 2:20; 3:2; Acts 2:36; 3:26; 5:31; 10:36, 42-43; 15:11)
Peter then concludes his epistle by offering worship and praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (tou kyriou hemon kai soteros ‘ Iesou christou). To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
The inspired Hebrew writings proclaim that Yahweh is the righteous God and Savior who justifies or makes the faithful righteous, and who is worshiped and glorified!
“For thus says Yahweh, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am Yahweh, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in chaos.’ I Yahweh speak the truth, I declare what is right. Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, Yahweh? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.’ ONLY in Yahweh, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed, all who were incensed against him. In Yahweh all the offspring of Israel shall be righteous and glory.” Isaiah 45:21-25
Moreover, it is Yahweh’s kingdom that is eternal!
“Yahweh will reign for ever and ever.” Exodus 15:18
“Yahweh is king for ever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.” Psalm 10:16
“Yahweh sits enthroned over the flood; Yahweh sits enthroned as king for ever.” Psalm 29:10
“Yahweh is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Yahweh is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O Yahweh, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, to make known to the sons of men your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. Yahweh is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.” Psalm 145:8-13
Peter also mentions his eyewitness experience at the Mount of Transfiguration, the time when he saw the glory of the Lord Jesus and personally heard the Father testifying that Christ is his beloved Son:
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.’” 2 Peter 1:16-18
All three Synoptic Gospels report this event:
“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’” Matthew 17:1-5; cf. Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36
And according to one of the Synoptic Gospels, Peter himself made the confession that Jesus is the Son of living God by a revelation that he received from God the Father:
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’” Matthew 16:13-19
A similar confession had been made earlier on by Peter and the other disciples during the time when they saw Jesus walking on water and where he also enabled Peter to do the same. This event led the disciples to worship the Lord Jesus since they could clearly see that he was doing what the OT says Yahweh does, namely, control the waves and seas and coming to the rescue of his people in the seas:
“Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart, I AM (ego eimi); have no fear.’ And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘O man of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” Matthew 14:22-33
A Summation of Petrine Christology
To summarize our examination of the Christology of Peter we learned that this inspired Apostle and eyewitness of Christ taught and proclaimed the following truths,
- Jesus is the Son of God whom the Father loves.
- Jesus died on the cross and was raised on the third day.
- Jesus is the omniscient Lord whom Peter and the rest of the Apostles worshiped and prayed to.
- Jesus is the Holy and Righteous One, being the very God and Savior who grants his people saving faith.
- Jesus is the Author of Life, the One who gives life and brings salvation.
- Jesus is the suffering and glorious Servant of Yahweh and David’s Lord whom Yahweh exalts to sit on his right hand upon his very own Divine throne.
- Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand results in Christ reigning as the sovereign Lord of all creation.
- Jesus will return to Judge the living and the dead.
- Jesus, like Yahweh, rules as Lord over an eternal kingdom, one which will never end.
- Jesus, like Yahweh, is the Lord who is to be feared and regarded as holy.
- Jesus, like Yahweh, is the stone of offense and rock of stumbling.
- Jesus possesses and pours out the Holy Spirit upon his followers, a function which the OT ascribes to Yahweh God.
- Jesus’ Spirit inspired the prophets, even though the OT says that it was Yahweh’s Spirit who performed this function.
- Jesus’ name is the only one that can save since it is the highest name there is, having the sovereign and Divine power to heal, forgive sins and to enable people to perform miracles such as raising the dead.
In light of the above list can there be any doubt that Peter did not believe that Jesus was merely a man, a human Messiah and prophet? Isn’t it evident and obviously clear from the foregoing that Peter and the very eyewitnesses of the risen Lord Jesus testified that Christ is the Divine Son of God and exalted Lord of all creation, He who became man in order to redeem his people from their sins? To those whom God has given eyes to see and ears to hear the answer is patently obvious.
Amen. Come risen Lord Jesus, come! We confess that you are the Holy and Righteous One, the very Author of Life who was crucified and raised from the dead, the exalted Lord and eternal King of creation, and our great God and Savior who perfectly saves all who believe in and love you. Amen.