Peter’s speeches in the Book of Acts: Lessons for evangelists today

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With a soft voice, with soft gestures, with a soft heart and maybe soft hands and soft feet, the modern evangelist is following the new rule book to a “T”. Cause no offence–at any cost–and do no harm–at any cost. Was this the approach of the once fearful Simon Peter?

This short study will direct the reader to Andrew Fountain’s “Gospel Preaching in Acts” here on the Apostle Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts. The content of these speeches shows the absence of the fear of human rejection, which paralyzed him earlier and caused him to disown Jesus–by saying “I do not know .[him]“– (Matthew 26:69-75, cf. Mark 14:66-72; Luke 24:54-62; John 18:25-27). The content of these speeches show that Holy Spirit empowered witness to the facts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection have no substitute, and that the methods and the message are God-ordained..

The five speeches:

  1. Just after Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39)
  2. Temple Beggar (Acts 3:11-4:4)
  3. 3.After his first Arrest (Acts 4:8-12)
  4. After his second Arrest (Acts 5:29-32)
  5. At the home of Cornelius (Acts 10:34-43)

Five common themes: 

  1. An introduction to his audience
  2. A statement that the audience had “killed Jesus”
  3. A statement that God has the last word by “raising him from the dead”
  4. A statement that Jesus has been exalted and is the coming Judge
  5. A statement that now is the time to repent and put their full trust in Jesus in order that they might have forgiveness of sins, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Five questions:

1. What can we learn from the content of these speeches? [Hint: Fountain proposes these elements here.]

  • Peter knew about the death, resurrection and person of Jesus Christ also in the context of the Old Testament
  • Peter knew that the testimony of the Spirit and the Scriptures would be his ultimate authority
  • Peter did not hide the fact that the Judge was coming
  • Faith, repentance and the remission of sins are all linked together

2. What can we learn about the delivery or the method of these speeches?

  • Peter understood his audience
  • He spoke with Holy Spirit boldness and wisdom
  • His authoritative proclamation came with persuasion
  • His authoritative proclamation led to discussion

3. What can we learn from the response to these speeches?

4. How can we use these today?

5. What might the modern day evangelist be lacking?

 

For further reading:

  1. Herman. Ridderbos, “The Speeches of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles” [The Tyndale New Testament Lecture of 1961]. Is here.
  1. F.F. Bruce, “The Speeches in Acts–Thirty Years After” In Robert Banks, ed., Reconciliation and Hope. New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology Presented to L.L. Morris on his 60th Birthday. (Carlisle: The Paternoster Press, 1974), pp.53-68. Is here.
  1. Andrew Fountain, “Gospel Preaching in Acts” (Diss.: M.Div. Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College, 1994)   Is here. 
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About Author

John Span has worked with his family in West Africa among an unreached 'Fulani' people group for the last ten years. His mentors have challenged him to think theologically, especially in the area of missions to Muslims and he desires to inspire others to do the same. In the last year he has been a frequent contributor to the St. Francis Magazine.

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