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.
opens his book with this first missionary speech of Acts23. As Acts shows, Messiah will become the preferred title for Jesus; Luke insists that Paul, ‘as was his custom’, took whatever amount of time was needed to show in the synagogues of the Mediterranean that ‘this is the Messiah Jesus whom I announce to you’ (Acts 17, 2-3). So insistent is this kind of teaching that followers of Jesus became known as Christians (Acts 11,26), Messiah-people24. Even if Peter had his own broader use of ‘Jesus Messiah’ in mind, the function of the identification of Jesus as Messiah in this speech is clearly to link Jesus of Nazareth with the eventual goal of the speech: Jesus is ‘Lord’, upon whom one calls for salvation25.
Thus, whatever overarching value to Acts lies in quickly identifying Jesus as Messiah, the title, in this speech, is presented and proved worthy of Jesus because it strategically closes the gap between the two elements of Peter’s argument: ‘Jesus’ and ‘Lord of Israel’. Contrarily, there is no appeal, as one will find in Paul’s conversion stories, to an already enthroned Jesus breaking into human experience from on high and in this way proving that Jesus is Lord; Peter’s fidelity to his experience makes him follow the kerygmatic line: public life, death, resurrection, ascension, session. The resurrection of Jesus is not only the steppingstone to the ascension and the session which identifies Jesus as Lord. But, as Peter’s argument shows so clearly, by virtue of the resurrection Jesus is revealed as Messiah, and being Messiah is key to being Lord. Thus, in giving his audience an account of the path of Jesus of Nazareth to the right hand of God, Peter perfects his argument by indicating, not only the reality of the resurrected Jesus, but the reality of the risen Messiah. To Peter’s mind, the surest