Resurrection | The Acts of the Apostles

The following belongs to a series entitled “An Introductory Biblical Theology of Resurrection.” Read other posts belonging to this series here.

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The Acts of the Apostles

Acts begins by acknowledging Jesus’ resurrection and His appearance to many for forty days (1:3; 2:32; 3:15; 10:40-41; 13:31; cf. 1 Cor 15:5-8) and to Paul later on in the narrative (9:1-16; see also 10:13-15; 18:9-10; 22:6-11, 17:21; 23:11; 26:12-18). In fact, witnessing the resurrected Christ appears to be a requirement for apostleship (1:21-22), exposing a primary function of the apostles—to bear witness to the resurrection (1:21-22; 4:33; 10:41). With no surprise then, the heart of the apostolic message quickly becomes the resurrected Messiah.[1]

The apostles are clear: God the Father raised Jesus from the dead,[2] a significant detail that deliberately implies the Father’s acceptance of Christ’s atonement. Consequently, Jesus is Savior and individuals are called to repent and believe on Him for the forgiveness of sins (3:19; 4:12; 5:31; 10:43; 13:26, 38-39; 17:30).

The apostles show that the Messiah’s resurrection is foretold in the OT. Indeed, the totality of the OT scripture points forward to the death and resurrection of the Christ.[3] Consequently, Jesus’ resurrection proves Him to be this Messiah (2:24-32, 36; 3:26; 13:34-37; 17:2-3; 26:22-23). Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation function as His enthronement at the right hand of God (2:33-36; 5:31; cf. Col 3:1; Eph 1:20-22; 1 Pet 3:22), as the forepromised Davidic King (2:30; 5:31; 13:33; cf. 2 Samuel 7; Ps 2:7; 132:11; Rom 1:4). By His resurrection He is appointed as the judge (10:42; 17:30-31).

Although many Jews believe in a general resurrection (i.e., 24:15), the apostles proclaim that in Christ the eschatological resurrection has emerged (4:2; see also 17:18, 32; 24:21; 26:6-8). The hope of the resurrection is found in Him (23:6; 24:14-15), “the first to rise from the dead” (26:23). “With the resurrection of Jesus that new world has already broken into the midst of the old.”[4] In His resurrection Christ has inaugurated the “last days.” The resurrected Christ pours out the eschatological Spirit on His people (2:1-21, 33; 5:32). Peter performs curse-reversing miracles by the risen Lord’s name (3:6,16; 4:9-10, 30).[5] The good news of the Kingdom’s inauguration is proclaimed (28:23, 31). In short, the realization of Israel’s hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ (28:20) whom heaven has received until the time for the final restoration of all things (3:21).

Notes

[1] 2:22-36; 3:15, 22, 26; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30-32; 10:40-43; 13:26-39; 17:2-3, 18, 30-31; 25:19: 26:22-23.

[2] 2:24; 3:13, 15; 3:22, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 37; 17:31; 26:8. Likewise, in the rest of the NT, Christ was raised (Rom 6:9; 7:4; 8:34; 1 Cor 15:4, 12, 14, 16, 17, 20; 2 Cor 5:15; 2 Tim 2:8; 1 Pet 3:18) by God (Rom 4:24-25; 6:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1 Thes 1:9-10; 1 Pet 1:21) through the Spirit (Rom 8:11), although He had some sense of participation (Jn 10:18). God raises the dead (Mt 22:29; Rom 4:17; 1 Cor 6:14; Eph 2:6; Col 2:12-13 1 Thes 4:14; see also the following passives: 1 Cor 15:15, 32, 52; Col 2:12; 3:1; 1 Thes 4:16).

[3] See 2:25-32, 34; 3:22; 10:43; 13:27, 32-37; 24:14; 16:22; 28:23; cf. Luke 18:31; 24:25-27, 32, 44-47; Rom 1:2; 1 Cor 15:3-4. Alan J. Thompson, The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus: Luke’s Account of God’s Unfolding Plan (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011), 75.

[4] Thomas F. Torrance, Space, Time, and Resurrection (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976), 31.

[5] “In the biblical sense a name is far more than a label. It represents a person and is an extension of that person’s being and personality. To invoke the name of Jesus is to call upon his authority and power” (John B. Polhill, Acts [Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995], 128).

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