Acts 2:32-36

”’God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.””’

– Acts 2:32-36, New International Version


Acts 2:33-36 is a part of Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. The occasion of the sermon was the outpouring of the Spirit upon the disciples. Seeing and hearing what was happening, the gathered crowd asked, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12). In his sermon Peter answers this question.

Peter began his message by pointing out that the outpouring of the Spirit was a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. Then, he focused his attention on Christ (Acts 2:22-36). Peter declared that Jesus had been attested among them by the wonders and signs He performed. They had put him to death, but God had raised Him up. Citing Psalm 16:8-11 (Acts 2:25-28), Psalm 132:11 (Acts 2:30), and Psalm 11:01 (Acts 2:34-35), Peter demonstrated that Jesus was the promised and expected Davidic Messiah.

It was God who raised up Jesus and exalted Him. God had made Jesus (Acts 2:36) both Lord and Christ. The exalted Jesus had poured out the Spirit upon them. This was further evidence of His divine nature. Confronted with this evidence, the only thing for the crowd to do was to repent and have faith in Christ.

Having Been Exalted

The exaltation of Christ preceded the outpouring of the Spirit. Peter uses a Greek word (hupsotheis) which means having been exalted or having been lifted up. Using various forms of this word, Jesus spoke several times (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32-34) of His being lifted up. He was referring to the manner in which He would die. As Peter uses the word, the exaltation of Christ has to do with the resurrection, the ascension, and the seating of Christ at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:32-33; 5:30-31). Jesus was exalted (lifted up) both literally and in the sense of being honored and seated in power.

Having Received

Another Greek word (labon) used by Peter in Acts 2:33 means having received. Here, Peter is speaking about Christ having received the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descended upon Jesus (Luke 3:22) at His baptism, but this did not preclude His reception of the Spirit in connection with His exaltation.

Through the redemptive work of Christ, a new relationship between Christ and the Spirit is established. Jesus becomes both Lord and Christ. Now, He is the Lord of the Spirit. In Luke’s terms, the Spirit (Acts 16:7) is the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit is poured forth by Jesus. Therefore, faith in Jesus is a prerequisite to reception of the Spirit.


Before Jesus poured out the Spirit, he had been exalted and had received the promise of the Holy Spirit. The Greek words used, hupsotheis and labon, are aorist participles. Literally translated, these aorist participles mean having been exalted and having received. Here, the context makes it clear that the action of the main verb, has poured forth, clearly is subsequent to the respective actions of the aorist participles. Also, the two aorist participles are connected by te. This is a close connective suggesting that the two events occurred at the same time.

The question arises as to just when the exaltation of Christ occurred and when He received the Spirit. The most common view is that there was just one ascension that Christ’s exaltation and reception of the Spirit took place when He ascended (Acts 1:9-11). However, other views are possible. According to Boer (p.145), the resurrection of Christ and His reception of the Spirit took place at the same time. Similarly, Bruce declares, “In the apostolic preaching the resurrection and ascension of Christ seem to represent one continuous movement, and both together constitute His exaltation,” (p. 40). In his view Christ did not wait until forty days after the resurrection to ascend. His appearances to the disciples were visitations from that exalted and eternal world to which His ‘body of glory’ now belonged (p. 40). According to Bruce, the appearances came to an end on the fortieth day.

Assuming that the exaltation and reception of the Spirit took place at the time of the resurrection, then Christ clearly had full authority to bestow the Spirit (John 20:22 and Luke 24) on resurrection day. Also, it would be reasonable to assume that He became head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22) at that time.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Peter uses the phrase promise of the Holy Spirit. According to Arndt and Gingrich (p. 280), the word promise can refer to God’s promise itself or to what was promised. They further say that It is not always possible to draw a hard and fast line between the promise and what was promised. With regard to the Holy Spirit, the promise can refer to the promises themselves, to the Holy Spirit Himself, or to both. Here, Peter says, the promise of the Holy Spirit, meaning that Christ received the promised Spirit.

Other passages may be similarly regarded. Jesus refers in Luke 24 to the promise of the Father and in Acts 1:4 to what the Father had promised. In Acts 2:39 Peter speaks of the promise. Paul, in Galatians 3:14, writes about the promise of the Spirit and in Ephesians 1:13 about the holy Spirit of promise. Without overlooking the promise itself, we can say that all these passages refer to the Holy Spirit.

For additional discussions of the promised Spirit see my comments on Luke 2:4 and Acts 1:4. As Paul uses the term, the entire presence and work of the Spirit is included. He uses the term comprehensively. As Luke uses the term, the empowering of the Spirit is primarily in focus. However, this does not limit the term with respect to what Christ received.

The Spirit Poured Forth

We turn, now, to the outpouring of the Spirit upon the disciples. The Spirit poured forth resulted in experience that could be seen and heard. It was this which you both see and hear. The Spirit filled the disciples who then spoke in other tongues. The people heard them speaking of the mighty deeds of God (Acts 2:11). What the crowd saw and heard was the Spirit empowering the disciples to speak prophetically and to witness.


Arndt, William F. and Gingrich, F. Wilbur. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Cambridge The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Arrington, French L. The Acts of the Apostles. Peabody Hendrikson Publishers, 1988.
Beasley-Murray, G. R. Baptism in the New Testament. Grand Rapids Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962.
Bruce, F. F. The Book of Acts. Grand Rapids Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1975.
Dunn, James D. G. Baptism in the Holy Spirit. London SCM Press Ltd. 1970.
Haenchen, Ernst. The Acts of the Apostles. Philadelphia The Westminster Press, 1971.
Horton, Stanley M. The Book of Acts. Springfield Gospel Publishing House, 1981.
Horton, Stanley M. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit. Springfield Gospel Publishing House, 1976.
Pink, Arthur. The Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids Baker Book House, 1970.
Rea, John. Bible Handbook on the Holy Spirit. Orlando Creation House, 1998.
Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vols. 1-6. Nashville Broadman Press, 1930.
Lenski, R. C. H. St. Luke’s Gospel. Columbus The Wartburg Press, 1946.
Thiessen, Clarence. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977.

Copyright © 2001. GMF

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