Acts 2:17-21 – Did Peter Apply God’s Holy Name To Jesus?
It is being claimed that Peter, as recorded in Acts 2:17-21, makes several appeals to “YHWH” texts in the Hebrew Bible and applies them to Jesus. In reading Acts 2:17-21, however, we find that such a thought has to actually read into what Peter stated.
Acts 2:14-36, World English Bible translation, with our notations added:
Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke out to them, “You men of Judea, and all you who dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
Acts 2:15 For these aren’t drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is only the third hour of the day.
Acts 2:16 But this is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel:
Acts 2:17 ‘It will be in the last days, says God [The Greek Theos has probably been substituted for the holy name, Yahweh/Jehovah (Joel 2:19); Jehovah is the God and Father of Jesus (1 Peter 1:3), He who sent Jesus — Isaiah 61:1], I will pour forth of my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. (Joel 2:28)
Acts 2:18 Yes, and on my servants and on my handmaidens in those days, I will pour out my Spirit, and they will prophesy. (Joel 2:29)
Acts 2:19 I will show wonders in the the sky above, And signs on the earth beneath; Blood, and fire, and billows of smoke. (Joel 2:30)
Acts 2:20 The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] comes. (Joel 2:31)
Acts 2:21 It will be, that whoever will call on the name of the Lord [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] will be saved.’ (Joel 2:32)
Acts 2:22 “You men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved by God [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] to you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] did by him in the midst of you, even as you yourselves know,
Acts 2:23 him, being delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus], you have taken by the hand of lawless men, crucified and killed;
Acts 2:24 whom God [Jehovah, the God of Jesus] raised up, having freed him from the agony of death [not eternal suffering], because it was not possible that he should be held by it.
Acts 2:25 For David says concerning him, ‘I [Jesus] saw the Lord [Jehovah] always before my face, For he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. (Jesus is depicted, not as being Jehovah, but as having Jehovah as his right hand.)
Acts 2:26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover my [Jesus’] flesh also will dwell [reside] in hope;
Acts 2:27 Because you [Jehovah] will not leave my [Jesus’] soul in Hades [death, not eternal suffering], Neither will you allow your Holy One to see decay.
Acts 2:28 You [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] made known to me [Jesus] the ways of life. You [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
Acts 2:29 “Brothers, I may tell you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
Acts 2:30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] had sworn with an oath to him [David] that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,
Acts 2:31 he [David] foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was his soul left in Hades [Jesus’ soul is not now suffering for eternity in hades/sheol to pay the wages of sin, Jesus died for our sins] , nor did his flesh see decay [His flesh was to be paid to God in heaven as the offering for sin].
Acts 2:32 This Jesus God [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Acts 2:33 [Jesus] Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus], and having received from the Father [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] the promise of the Holy Spirit [the Holy Spirit is received by Jesus from Jehovah, the only true God, the God and Father of Jesus — Luke 24:29; John 14:16,26; 15:26], he [Jesus, acting for his God] has poured forth this, which you now see and hear.
Acts 2:34 For David didn’t ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, ‘The Lord [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] said to my Lord [Jesus], “Sit by my [Jehovah’s] right hand, [rather than identifying Jesus as Jehovah, the reference Peter makes to Psalm 110:1 actually distinguishes Jesus from Jehovah.]
Acts 2:35 Until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet.”‘
Acts 2:36 “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God [Jehovah, the God and Father of Jesus] has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” [Again, rather than identifying Jesus as being Jehovah, Peter distinguishes Jesus from Jehovah.]
Jesus is not his God, and there is nothing in these verses that depicts Jesus as his God. Indeed, the God and Father of Jesus is depicted as being different from Jesus all throughout these verses. However, Jesus, having been sent by the only true God, performs the works of his God. What the one sent by Jehovah does in performing the works of Jehovah is claimed by Jehovah as being performed by him. (Exodus 3:10,12; 12:17; 18:10; Numbers 16:28; Judges 2:6,18; 3:9,10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:24,25; 14:6,19; 15:14,18; 16:20,28-30, 2 Kings 4:27; Isaiah 43:11, 45:1-6; and many more scriptures could be provided.) If Jesus’ performance of the works of Jehovah, his God, means that Jesus is Jehovah, then, if one would be consistent in such reasoning, one would also have to conclude many of the Old Testament judges and prophets are all Jehovah.
Nevertheless, some questions have been raised by another: Doesn’t Acts 2:22-36 show that “the Lord” spoken of in Acts 2:21 is none other than Jesus? Isn’t Peter reminding these people that this man Jesus was the Messiah, and that he was the Lord of verse 21? Then, since Acts 2:17-21 are actually being quoted from Joel 2:28-32, does this mean that that Jesus is Yahweh/Jehovah?
Actually verses 22-36 show that Jehovah worked through Jesus, just as many other scriptures show. — Matthew 6:9; 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; 19:38; John 5:43; 10:25; 12:13,28; 17:6,11,12,26; Acts 15:14,17.
(Quotes from New American Standard Version):
“A man [Jesus] attested to you by God [Jehovah] with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst.”– Acts 2:22
“This Man [Jesus], delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God [Jehovah].” — Acts 2:23
Peter here clearly testifies that Jesus was a man. Additionally, he declares that Jesus was attested to by God. If Jesus is Jehovah, surely this would have been a very good place for Peter to have so stated; but instead he tells that Jesus was attested to by God, thus demonstrating that Jesus is not God.
“God [Jehovah] raised Him [Jesus] up again.” — Acts 2:24
“I [Jesus] was always beholding [Jehovah] in my presence.” — Acts 2:25.
“Thou [Jehovah] wilt not abandon my [Jesus’] soul to Hades.” — Acts 2:27.
“Thou [Jehovah] hast made known to me [Jesus] the ways of life.” — Acts 2:28.
“Thou [Jehovah] wilt make me [Jesus] full of gladness.” — Acts 2:28.
“This Jesus God [Jehovah] raised up again.” — Acts 2:32.
” having been exalted [by Jehovah — Acts 5:31; Philippians 2:9; Ephesians 1:3,17-23] to the right hand of God [Jehovah –Psalm 110:1], and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit [Jesus was NOT the Holy Spirit, as some claim, but the promise was that Jesus would receive the Holy Spirit as being put under Jesus’ authority], He [Jesus] has poured forth this [the Holy Spirit, which he had received from his God and Father] which you both see and hear.” — Acts 2:33.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God [Jehovah] has made Him [Jesus] both Lord and Christ — this Jesus whom you crucified.” — verse 36.
Verses 17-21 are quoted from Joel 2:28-32. In Joel 2:28-32 the Hebrew Masoretic text has the tetragrammaton of the Holy Name three times in verse 32; it also appears in verse 27.
Joel 2:32 (American Standard Version) “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered; for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those that escape, as Jehovah hath said, and among the remnant those whom Jehovah doth call.”
The last days as quoted in this text in its final application refers to the time of blessing of all the families of the earth, all flesh, thereby allowing all flesh to see the glory of Jehovah. (See God’s Hidden Glory to be Revealed) The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 33 CE was but a foreshadow, a token (earnest) of the Millennial inheritance of the church and outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all peoples. — 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14.
However, the prophecy in Joel does not use the term “last days.” It is Peter who uses the phrase “last days”. (Acts 2:17) Like most quotations in the New Testament, Peter is probably making an indirect quotation. While Joel quotes Jehovah as saying “afterwards”, Peter, using indirect quotation, tells us that Jehovah was saying that “in the last days” he would pour forth his spirit. Nevertheless, John Gill states:
“R. David Kimchi, a celebrated commentator with the Jews, observes, that “afterwards” is the same “as in the last days”, and which design the times of the Messiah; for according to a rule given by the same writer on (Isaiah 2:2) wherever the last days are mentioned, the days of the Messiah are intended.
Noting Peter’s reference to the “last days” in 2 Peter 3:3 and also Paul’s reference to the “last days” (2 Timothy 3:1), some have suggested that Peter may have been referring to the “last days” as a period of time just before the destruction of Satan’s empire, and from this conclude that there may be another similar outpouring of the holy spirit again in the last days of Satan’s world, but we highly doubt this to be what Peter meant. If so, it would still be but a token fulfillment of the time coming after Christ’s return during the Millennial age.
Others suggest that Peter was referring to the “last days” of the Jewish age of favor, which most Bible Students believe ended in 70 A.D. or 73 A.D., or some time around this. This would certainly fit the application for the pouring out of God’s spirit in the first century.
Another possibility is that Peter was referring to a period of 3,000-years as the “last days” — three millennial days, If applied as beginning when Jesus died (in 33 CE) they would end in 3033. Such an application would include, not just the Gospel Age of this present evil age, but also for the entire Kingdom Millennial age — the age to come — as well.
Regardless, “the Lord” in Acts 2:21 refers, not to Jesus, but to the God of Jesus (Matthew 27:46: Mark 15:34; John 20:17; Romans 1:7; 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3,17; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 2:7; 3:2,12) — to the eternal Supreme Being. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus has always been. In other words Jehovah has always been Jehovah. Yet Peter does not say that Jesus is Jehovah but rather that the God and Father of Jesus made Jesus “Lord”. (Acts 2:36; Hebrews 1:9) Jesus was not made “Jehovah” — this would be pure nonsense; no, but he was made “Lord” and “Messiah” by his God, Jehovah. — Acts 2:36; see also: Isaiah 61:1; Acts 5:31; 10:38; Matthew 28:18; John 3:35.
However, Paul wrote to Christians in Corinth: “to the assembly of God which is at Corinth; those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, both theirs and ours.” We note here that he speaks of the Christians “who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Does this mean that we are to call upon Jehovah (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32) and also the name of Jesus? Yes, for as Jesus said: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) “No one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) If we remember that the name Jesus means “Jehovah saves” or “Jehovah is savior”, then to call upon the name of Jesus also acknowledges the name of his God. Additionally, Jesus said: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44) Thus we need both the God of Jesus, the Father, as well as the Son of Jehovah. This is what John says: “Whoever transgresses and doesn’t remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn’t have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:19) This also agrees with Jesus’ statements in John 17:1-3.
There is nothing in any of this, however, that should give one the idea that Jesus is Jehovah. Jesus was sent by Jehovah, speaks for Jehovah, represents Jehovah. Jesus is not Jehovah whom he represents and speaks for. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; John 3:2,17; 5:19,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; Hebrews 1:1,2; Revelation 1:1.