God Fulfilled What the Prophets Spoke

Peter said, “… the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that the Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18).

Fulfilled prophecy is one of the greatest testimonies God offers to prove He is God. Long ago, through Isaiah’s words, the Lord challenged the gods of that day saying, “Produce your cause saith Jehovah, bring forth your strong reasons saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and declare unto us what shall happen: declare ye the former things, what they are, that we may consider them and know the latter end of them; or show us things to come. Declare the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye are nothing, and your work is of nought, an abomination is he that choseth you” (Isaiah 41:21-24). God’s challenge to the gods of Isaiah’s day was to show things of which you spoke beforehand that have presently come to pass, and show your predictions of events yet to come. Of course, there was no response to God’s challenge to the gods of Isaiah’s day because they weren’t gods. They were simply fabrications produced from the vanity of the minds of men.

Peter, in his sermon on Solomon’s porch in Acts 3, declared that God had predicted future events and had spoken of them through His prophets. The specific prophecy Peter had in mind was one which predicted that Christ would be put to death by the hands of sinful men. However, God would not allow that grievous wrong to stand — He had raised Him to life. And although it is not recorded that Peter offered the specific prophecy which God had in mind (he simply affirmed that God had raised from the dead the “Prince of life” who had been unjustly slain by His nation), Luke, who recorded Peter’s sermon, may have simply abbreviated the sermon and not included a reference to the prophecy which Peter had actually given when preaching. Luke, like all gospel writers, did not include every word nor detail of sermons and events they referenced. But whether Peter actually referenced a prophecy which predicted the resurrection of Christ or not, he could have. He did so in his sermon on Pentecost.

In that sermon Peter quoted from Psalm 16, a prophecy from David in which David said, “I beheld the Lord always before my face for he is on my right hand that I should not be moved. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced, moreover my soul shall dwell in hope because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption …” (Acts 2:25-27;  cp. Psalm 16:8-10). Peter showed how that prophecy referred to David’s Son, his Seed, which God had promised David He would raise up.

The promise of God was not simply “mouthing” of the prophets. They were literally fulfilled as Peter declared by His words, “Whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15). Because God’s prophecies and promises through the ages were proven true, Peter once more said to his hearers, “Repent ye therefore and turn again that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may be seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord …” (Acts 3:19-20).

A comparison between Peter’s words in Acts 2:38 with this second instance in Acts 3:19 is helpful for us to understand this text. Notice that in neither Acts 2 nor Acts 3 were the hearers told to believe, yet that does not rule out the necessity of faith (John 8:31-32; Hebrews 11:6). The first command in both passages was “repent” (Acts 2:38; 3:19). The second command was “be baptized” in Acts 2, but in Acts 3:19 the hearer is commanded to “turn again”. Is there a difference between “be baptized” and “turn again”? In this text there is not.

In Acts 3:19 “turn again” stands in same relationship to “repent” and have “your sins blotted out” as “baptized” stands in Acts 2:38, “repent” and “for remission of sins”. Thus, in this text “turn again” is a reference that the hearer be baptized. When one is baptized, he has “turned again”. Before baptism he was “dead in sin”; after baptism he was “free from sin”. Before baptism, he was the “old man”; after baptism he is a “new man”. Before baptism he was an “old creature”; after baptism he is a “new creature”. His course of life has been altered; he has “turned”. After being baptized, they would receive “remission of sins”; after “turning” their sins would be “blotted out”. To have remission of sins, to have one’s sins “blotted out” is exactly the same.

Finally, Peter’s hearers in Acts 2:38 were told that after repenting and be baptized, they would receive remission of sins and “the gift of the Holy Spirit”. The hearers in Acts 3:19 were commanded to repent, turn again, have sins blotted out, and then there would be “seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord”. These two are equal too. The gift of the Holy Spirit includes remission of sins; it also includes this new relationship the sinner has in Christ. What better way to describe such than “seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord”?

The resurrection of Jesus was the subject of prophecy. That prophecy was fulfilled 2,000 years ago. The “remission of sins” (sins being “blotted out”) and “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (“the seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord”) are prophecies fulfilled once again as sinners are baptized into Christ and rise to walk in new life. This was the blessing promised to Abraham long ago: “In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18).

Jim McDonald