John Kilgallen, «‘With many other words’ (Acts 2,40): Theological Assumptions in Peter’s Pentecost Speech», Vol. 83 (2002) 71-87
The complete effectiveness of Peter’s Pentecost speech implies that the Lucan audience, if not that of Peter, knows at least three assumptions that are needed to make the speech as logically convincing as possible. These three assumptions are: (1) that Jesus is physically Son of David; (2) that the kyrios of Ps 110,1 is the Messiah; (3) that only the titles ‘Son’ and ‘Father’ should be used when describing that it is Jesus who poured out the Spirit. As for Peter’s audience, the fact that Peter supported his speech with ‘many other words (arguments)’ might argue that his audience were introduced to these three assumptions. As for Luke’s audience, Luke 1,35 and its context play a major role in justifying the logic of this Pentecost speech.
Peter’s speech, then, is explanatory, it intends to answer a question about meaning. It is in his development of a response to this question that we pose certain questions about his argumentation; let us proceed to these.
II. The Two Purposes of Peter’s Speech
(1) First, Peter indicates, by means of the Joel quotation, that ‘this experience means’ that God has poured out His Spirit on His sons and daughters, on His servants and handmaids. The voices the crowd has heard, summed up as speech about the marvels of God, are defined as prophecy. Indeed, Luke has added the clause ‘they shall prophesy’, where Joel did not have it (cf. v. 18), to underscore the nature of the stunning, attention-getting gift given through the Spirit to the Christians. Thus, Peter’s first response to the crowd is to offer the cause of what the crowd has experienced. ‘What does this mean?’ is understood to ask, ‘What is the cause of our experience?’, and the answer is in terms of cause-effect. In this way, ‘what this means’ is that God has, in the last days, poured out his Spirit. God had promised this, and now He has done it. The strength of this argument is based on coherency or fittingness.
(2) The second way in which Peter answers the question about meaning is to propose the purpose for which God has poured out His Spirit. Now it is not a question of meaning according to cause, but meaning according to intent. We are now interested, not in Who caused this experience of great wind and prophecy, but why did God cause this prophesying?
The best approach to identify the intent of God in causing this experience is to note that, materially, the Joel citation, as Luke chooses to excise it, runs far beyond the identification of cause of the crowd’s experience. That is, the Joel citation goes far beyond cause (the Holy Spirit) and effect (‘and they shall prophesy’ [v. 18]); it ends with the affirmation: ‘Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (v. 21). This action, to call on the name of the Lord to be saved, is the ultimate goal or purpose or reason or divine intent to which the gift of the Spirit points. With the outpouring of the Spirit, and with the subsequent prophecy, we are recognizably in the last days so that, as Joel concludes, ‘anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’. The crowd’s question about the meaning of its experience, then, is answered, not simply in terms of cause-effect, but in terms of