You are here

Chapter 2 - Acts 2:21

Chapter 2

Acts 2:21

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Now that we are in the new covenant, we want to understand what it means to call on the name of the Lord for our salvation. Acts 2:21 will be expounded in the light of the sermon at Pentecost and the overall theme of the book of Acts.

The Overall Theme in Acts

The New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek. There is a total of 2088 distinct Greek words in the book of Acts.[1] In the following table, all the significant words that occur 25 times or more in Acts are listed.[2] The prepositions (into, in, at, on, according, of, from, out of), conjunctions (and, but, also, for, because, or), personal pronouns (who, which, what, that, this, our, we, mine) and less significant verbs, nouns, adject­ives and adverbs are taken out. By looking at the significant words that occur frequently, one can get a quick overview of the book.


Let’s pay special attention to the following significant words in Acts:

  1. “God” (θεός, theos) is listed as the most frequent, with 167 occur­rences. The book of Acts is God-centered. The focus is not on the apostles but on God. The book could just as well be titled the acts of God or the acts of God and His Spirit instead of the acts of the apostles. The focus is on how God, through His Spirit, empowers the apostles to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Who is theos in Acts?

  • Theos refers to “the Father” (1:4, 7; 2:33)
  • God is “the Creator” of heaven and earth (4:24; 14:15; 17:24)
  • God is spoken of as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the God of our fathers” (3:13; 5:30; 7:32; 22:14; 24:14)

Exod 3:16 tells us that “Yahweh” is the “God of the fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob”.

The God of the OT is the same God of the NT. So whenever “God” occurs in the NT, “God” refers to Yahweh.

In Acts, only a handful of verses has theos referring to idols (7:40; 14:11; 19:26) and these are notated with a small letter ‘g’ (gods).

  1. “Paul” has a high frequency of 128 occurrences (and another 23 times is addressed as Saul). In Acts chapters 13 to 28, the narrative concentrates on Paul and his missionary activities. “Peter” occurs only 56 times, and mainly in Acts chapters 1–5 and 8–12.
  2. “Lord” (κύριος, kyrios) has 106 occurrences.
  • Sometimes kyrios refers to Yahweh God (Acts 2:39; 3:22; 4:24, 26; 5:9; 7:31, 33; etc)
  • Very often, kyrios refers to Jesus (1:21; 2:36; 4:33; 7:59, 60; etc.)
  • In some situations kyrios may refer to either Yahweh or to Jesus (11:24; 20:19; etc).
  1. “Jews” (Ἰουδαῖος) with 79 occurrences is an important key word in Acts. Most of the occurrences are related to Paul’s minis­try. “Gentiles” (ἔθνος) has only 43 occurrences, most of which are related to Paul.
  2. “Spirit” (πνεῦμα) occurring 70 times predominantly refers to the Spirit of God (2:4, 17, 18 etc.) and is noted with a capital “S”. The Spirit is often combined with the adjective “holy”. Spirit is also used in reference to the “spirit of Jesus” (16:7), or a human spirit (7:59), or an evil spirit (19:15, 16).
  3. “Holy” occurs 53 times. Most of the time, it refers to the Spirit. Other times, “holy” refers to:
  • “holy one” (3:14)
  • “the holy child Jesus” (4:27, 30)
  • “holy angel” (10:22)
  • “holy prophets” (3:21)
  • “holy place or holy ground” (6:13; 7:33)
  • “saints” (9:13; 32; 41; 26:10)

The combined total occurrences of “holy” and “spirit” come to 123 times which is still less than the occurrences of “God” (165 times). The focus in Acts is on God more than on the Spirit.

  1. “Jesus” (Ἰησοῦς) is mentioned 68 times, less than half the occur­rences of “God”. The book of Acts is God centered rather than Jesus centered. Whenever Jesus is mentioned, it often ties in to the work that God does in him (2:22, 32, 36; 3:26; 4:10; 10:38 etc.). Jesus is men­tioned with the titles “Lord Jesus” (15 times), “Jesus Christ” (8 times), “Christ Jesus” (1 time), and “Lord Jesus Christ” (3 times).
  2. “Christ”, which is Χριστός in Greek, means the Anointed, the Messiah. “Christ” as a title occurs 14 times on its own (2:30-31, 36; 3:18; 4:26; 8:5; 9:20, 22; 17:3, 3; 18:5, 28; 24:24; 26:23). Other times it is “Jesus Christ” or “Lord Jesus Christ” or “Christ Jesus”. The combined total occurrences of “Jesus” and “Christ” come to 94, still very much less than the occurrences of “God” (165 times). All this should alert us that the main focus of Acts is on God.

Word Studies

In doing word studies, it is important to understand how each individual word is used in the context of the passage. There is the danger of conclud­ing an isolated word to be the key theme of a book solely on the grounds of its high frequency of occurrences.

  1. “Day” in Acts occurs frequently (94 times), but the word “day” mainly refers to “a period of time” (BDB) especially when the plural “days” is used (1:3, 5, etc). “Day” bears great significance in Acts when it refers to “the day of Pentecost” (2:1; 20:16); “the day of the Lord” (2:20); “the last days” (2:17).

By contrast, in the book of Joel, the word “day” with its high frequency of occurrences bears great significance as the word “day” is mainly used in relation to “the day of Yahweh” and the day of God’s judgment. In doing word studies, we need to group the word under different headings to see how the word is used semantically in the context. It takes skill and hard work to ana­lyze each word carefully before one can conclude the key theme of a book.

  1. “Speak” and “word” are also significant words on the list. On their own, they don’t bear much significance, but when these words are studied in their context, they bear deep meaning.
  2. Often times the “speaking” is related to the “word of God”:
  • “they speak the word” (4:29, 31; 13:46)
  • “preaching the word” (8:4; 25; 11:19; 13:5; 14:25; 15:35, 36 16:32; 17:13)
  • “ministry of the word” (6:4)
  • and people “believed” when “they heard and received the word” that was preached (2:41; 4:4; 8:14; 10:44; 11:1; 13:7, 44; 15:7).

The apostles carried the Gospel to the end of the earth by speaking the word of God boldly. It is the word that draws people to salvation. We must work hard to minister the word. Let the word of God prevail (19:20) in the lives of the believers.

  1. “Name” is another prominent key word in Acts. Most of the time, “name” is associated with the Lord Jesus:
  • “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38; 3:6; 10:48; 16:18)
  • “in the name of Jesus” (4:18; 5:40; 9:27)
  • “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (8:16; 9:29; 19:5, 13, 17)
  • “for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:26)
  • “for the name of the Lord Jesus” (21:13)
  • “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (4:10)
  • “the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (26:9)

This is relevant to our study as the question that needs to be answered in Acts 2:21 is whether the calling on the name of the Lord also refers to the calling on the name of the Lord Jesus.

Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

The following table lists all the significant words in the message at Pentecost, Acts 2:14b–40.[3]


  1. “God” (θεός) ranks as the one with the highest frequency, with 10 occurrences (2:17, 22, 22, 23, 24, 30, 32, 33, 36, 39). Just as “God” has the highest frequency of occurrence in the book of Acts, Yahweh God is also the main focus in Peter’s sermon.
  2. “Lord” κύριος (kyrios) has 7 occurrences (2:20, 21, 25, 34, 34, 36, 39). Some­times kyrios refers to Yahweh. Other times kyrios refers to Jesus. “Lord” is the third most significant noun in the book of Acts. Obviously, “Lord” plays a significant role in both the sermon and the entire book.
  3. “Day” (ἡμέρα) occurs either in the plural form pointing to the “last days” (2:17, 18) or in the singular form to “the day of the Lord” (2:20). The other two times simply refer to an ordinary day (2:15, 29).
  4. “Jesus” (Ἰησοῦς) occurs 4 times and “Christ” (Χριστός) 3 times. “Right hand” (δεξιός) with 3 occurrences refers to the place of special honor and authority given to Jesus by God. The “name” (ὄνομα) occur­ring twice is related to name of the Lord (2:21) and to Jesus Christ (2:38). “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “name” are also signifi­cant words in the entire book of Acts.
  5. “Spirit” (4 times), “pour out” (3 times), and “promise” (2 times) can be grouped together as they describe the promise of the pour­ing of the Spirit at Pentecost. Spirit is also a significant theme of Acts.
  6. “David” (Δαυίδ) with 3 occurrences bears significance as Peter alludes to two Messianic Psalms written by David: Psalm 16 speaks of the resurrection of the Messiah, and Psalm 110 speaks of the exaltation of the Messiah. “David” occurs only 11 times in the entire book of Acts. A major concentration is found in the sermon and chapter 13.
  7. The last groups of family words: “prophet”, “prophesy” (combined 4 times), “foreknowledge” and “foresee” (combined 4 times) refer to the prophecies given by the two prophets, Joel and David, and how they are fulfilled at Pentecost.

Key words in the Peter’s Sermon

The sermon at Pentecost can be summarized in the following manner:

God is the key figure in the sermon. Yahweh God is the One who is actively involved in the work of salvation for mankind. God performed mighty works of signs and wonders through Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God. Jesus’ death on the cross was in God’s predetermined plan. God raised Jesus up and made him Lord and Christ. Peter mentions two prophets: David and Joel. God fulfills the prophecy promised to David regarding the Messiah taking up the Davidic throne. After God exalted Jesus to sit at His right hand, Jesus received the promise of the Spirit from the Father. The pouring forth of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the beginning of the fulfill­ment of the prophecy given in Joel. The last days and the day of the Lord are turbulent days, therefore “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

First Part of the Sermon
Joel’s Prophecy (Acts 2:16-21)

We are so blessed to have this first sermon recorded for us in detail. A Bible passage can be put into a block sentence diagram format to help readers see the main subjects and parallel phrases easily. A sentence block diagram of Acts 2 is provided in Appendix 2 for your reference.

The sermon at Pentecost can be subdivided into two main sections. In the first part, Peter explains the pouring of the Spirit in connection to a prophecy in Joel 2:28-32 which was made about 600 years earlier.

Acts 2:16-21 “But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (ESV)

(1) Peter explains how the pouring of the Spirit begins its fulfillment at Pentecost.

(2) Peter interprets Joel 2:28 “and it shall come to pass afterward” as “and in the last days it shall be …” (Acts 2:17) as a fulfillment in his time, for Peter sees that his time is the last days. Since that time, already in the past 2000 years, the Kingdom of God has been moving forward dynamically in the power of the Holy Spirit.

(3) God declares, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (v.17). This is the beginning of a unique movement in which everyone can be em­powered by the Spirit in overflowing abundance. In the Old Testament times, priests, kings and prophets were anointed with the Holy Spirit. In the new covenant, God’s Spirit is not limited to a select few but can be poured on all flesh. Regardless of our status and whether we are old or young, servants or masters, sons or daughters, the promise of the Spirit is avail­able to everyone through Jesus in the last days.

(4) The purpose of the outpouring of the Spirit is for sons and daughters to prophesy, young men to see visions, and old men to dream dreams. God’s people are given greater access to discerning God’s divine will through prophetic utterances, visions and dreams.

(5) God repeats His declaration, “I will pour out my Spirit and they shall prophesy” (v.18). The clause “and they shall prophesy” is not in the origi­nal pass­age in Joel. This addition from Peter reveals that God desires that His people exercise the prophetic ministry in the church. Prophets are God’s mouthpiece to speak forth the message of God to their generation. The words of Moses come to mind: “Would that all Yahweh’s people were prophets, that Yahweh would put his Spirit on them” (Num 11:29). Pray that Yahweh will raise up more prophets to speak forth His words to address this generation.

(6) God says, “I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below” before the day of the Lord comes. The dramatic changes to the sun, moon, and stars are eschatological signs connected to God’s judgment in the end times.

It is important to distinguish the usage of the terms: “last days” and “end times”. The last days have already begun when Jesus came. Heb 1:2 says, “In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son”. The beginning of the last days had begun in the 1st Century and the last days have been continuing through the period of the church until the return of Christ. We are now at the end of the last days which is often known as the end times referring to a series of final events of the last days before Jesus returns. We are living in the end times. The prophecy in Joel tells us that there will be great danger and destruction in the final days of the end times. Who can endure it? Only those who call on the name of the Lord will find strength and be saved.

Second Part of the Sermon
God’s work in Jesus (Acts 2:22-39)

The second part of Peter’s sermon focuses on God’s work in Jesus. God saves us through Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God. How?

  1. God attests the man Jesus (v.22)
  2. God raises Jesus from the dead (v.24)
  3. God fulfills His promise to David regarding the Messiah (vv. 25–32; 34–35)
  4. God exalts Jesus to sit at His right hand (v.33)
  5. The Father gives the Spirit to Jesus to pour onto the disciples (v.33)
  6. God has made “this Jesus” to be both Lord and Christ (v.36)

The sermon ends with: “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39). This statement draws the audience back to the pro­phecy in Joel 2:32c, “among the survivors shall be those whom Yahweh calls.” God in the NT refers to Yahweh. There is a remnant whom Yahweh God calls to Himself. Peter’s message is one unifying theme as he takes the audience back to the prophecy of Joel.

God’s Work of Salvation Through Jesus

The outpouring of the Spirit marks a new period of God’s salvific work. The two parts of the sermon at Pentecost need to be studied as an entire whole for the complete message of salvation. As soon as Peter finishes explaining the outpouring of the Spirit in relation to Joel’s prophecy, he immediately explains how God works out His salvation plan through the life of Jesus, his atoning death, resurrection, ascension and exaltation. It is at the exaltation to heaven that Jesus received the promise of the Spirit from the Father (Acts 2:33). The pouring out of the Spirit is a significant work of Christ for our salvation.

Point 1 – God attests the man Jesus

Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.” (ESV, italics and underline added)

Jesus of Nazareth is a man approved by God. It is the God of Israel who actively performed all these powerful deeds and miracles through the man Jesus. The fact that Jesus could perform signs and wonders has nothing to do with the notion of an alleged deity attributed to him. Jesus himself testifies that “the Father who dwells in me does His works” (Jn 14:10). A sharp reader would observe the clear distinction of God who is the Father and the man Jesus in whom God dwells. God is the One who performs signs and wonders through the man Jesus.

Jesus calls himself a man. “You seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God” (Jn 8:40). The apostle Paul calls him “the man Christ Jesus” (1Tim 2:5). Contrary to the popular notion that Christ Jesus is God, the Bible plainly states that Christ Jesus is “the man”. In the OT, the Messiah is predicted to be “a man of sorrows” (Isa 53:3). In Paul’s message to the Athenians, he says that God has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness “by a man whom he has appointed.” (Acts 17:31) Isn’t this surprising? The one to judge the world is a man. Jesus is the man appointed by God to judge the world.

Jesus is in the category of man. Jesus is not “God-man”, a mytholog­ical concept used in the pagan world but not in the Bible. The notion of Jesus as a demigod or even God would be totally foreign to the biblical writers.

Jesus as man is called the “son of God”. “Son of God” is a title for the human Messiah. We need to have a sharp mind to understand the title “son of God. Jesus is the “son of God” but Jesus is not “God the son”. Never once is Jesus called “God the son” in the Bible. These two terms do not mean the same thing. Unfortunately, most Christians are unaware of the differences and mistakenly equate them to be the same. “Son of God” is God’s son, one who is distinguished from God. “God the son” implies that the son also is God and that he is a part of God as the second person in the Godhead.[4]

Peter confesses Jesus as “the Christ, the son of the living God” (Mt 16:16) or in John’s words, “Jesus is the Christ, the son of God” (Jn 20:31). Notice, Peter and John do not claim Jesus Christ to be “God the Son”. The term “God the son” was created by the Gentile church fathers in the 3rd century which eventually led to the Trinity Doctrine in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in 381 CE. Truths are distorted and confusion is set in when non-Biblical terms are used to explain Biblical theology.

The key point: Jesus of Nazareth is “a man” proven worthy and endorsed by God. God performs signs and wonders through Jesus.

Point 2 – God raises Jesus from the dead

Acts 2:23-24 “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (ESV, italics and under­line added)

The crucifixion and death of Jesus are not an afterthought but come from God’s determined counsel and foreknowledge. God raised Jesus up and released him from the agony of death. Jesus did not rise from the dead by himself, but totally depended on God’s power to raise him from the dead.

One of the major themes in Acts is “God raising Jesus from the dead”:

Acts 3:15 “… God raised him from the dead …”

Acts 4:10 “… Jesus Christ of Nazareth … whom God raised from the dead …”

Acts 5:30 “The God of our fathers raised Jesus …”

Acts 10:40 “But God raised him on the third day …”

Acts 13:30God raised him from the dead.”

Acts 13:32-33 “… what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus …”

Acts 13:34 “… He raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption …”

Acts 13:37 “But he whom God raised up did not see corruption.”

Acts 17:30-31 “the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Paul also preaches the same important message:

Galatians 1:1 “… God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”

Ephesians 1:20 “That He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead …”

Colossians 2:12 “… you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 “… and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead …”

Romans 10:9 “And believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved.”

The key point: The Gospel message is not just about the resurrection of Jesus, but that it is God who raised Jesus from the dead.

Point 3 – God works out His promise through David

Acts 2:25-28 “For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; there­fore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’” (ESV)

In this section, Peter is citing from Psalm 16:8-11. As a prophet, David foresaw the future Messiah in his resurrection. David was speaking not of himself but of the Messiah.

Yahweh God had sworn to David that one of his descendants would sit on his Davidic throne.

Acts 2:29-32 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descen­dants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did the flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” (ESV, underline added)

Peter mentions specifically that David’s tomb was still with them. David died and was buried, and his body decayed in the tomb. In con­trast, the promised Messiah, a human offspring descended from David’s line would be resurrected from the dead.

The word “descendant” in Greek is “ek karpou tēs osphyos autou”, which is literally translated as “out of the fruit of his loins.” Loin (osphyos) refers literally to the lower part of the physical body. God said to Abraham, “A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body (loins)” (Gen 35:11). Kings will literally come out of Abraham’s seed. In like manner, “Jesus Christ was made of the seed (ek spermatos) of David according to the flesh” (KJV, Rom 1:3).

Jesus comes directly from the family line of David. Like David, Jesus’ died, but unlike David, he was not aban­doned to Hades, nor did his physical body decay. The predicted Messiah overcame death.

The key point: God fulfilled His promise to David when He raised Jesus from the dead. The one who will sit on David’s throne is not God but a man born physically from the line of David.

Point 4 – God exalts Jesus to His right hand

Acts 2:33a Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God.” (ESV, italics added)

The verb ὑψωθείς (hypsōtheis, exalt, lift up) is in the passive voice. This is a divine passive because God is the One who performs the action. God exalted Jesus to heaven to sit at His right hand. Peter then cites another Psalm regarding the promised Messiah.

Acts 2:34-35 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” (ESV, italics added)

There are two Lords here. One is the Lord. The other one is my Lord. Who is the first Lord and who is the second Lord? The answer is revealed in the Hebrew text.

Psalm 110:1 “The Lord says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool” (ESV)

In the Hebrew text, different words are used for “the Lord” and “my Lord”. The first Lord in Hebrew is יְהוָ֙ה(YHWH). The second Lord in Hebrew is אדֹנִ֗י (adoni) which refers to a supreme human lord who bears great authority. “YHWH” is the name of God whereas “adoni” is an honorary title of a human being.

(1) The first Lord, who is YHWH, is completely different from the second Lord who is a human lord. One is “the Lord” YHWH and the other one is “my lord” referring to David’s lord, someone greater than David. David is speaking prophetically about the human Messiah.

(2) Psalm 110 prophesies about the eventual status of the Messianic Lord who will be given this supreme office of authority. The Messiah is the one who is invited to sit at God’s right hand, a high place of honor, to act by God’s authority. In exalting Jesus to sit at His right hand, God is endorsing Jesus to be the Messiah.

(3) The promised Messiah needs to be both David’s lord (Acts 2:34) and David’s son, a descendant of David (v.30). Jesus once raised this question to the Pharisees, “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Mt 22:45) The Pharisees were not able to answer as they refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah although they knew Jesus was a descendant of David. Jesus as the Messiah fulfilled both roles – David’s lord and David’s son.

Jesus’ exaltation

(1) Jesus is not regaining a position that he temporarily gave up. Rather, Jesus as the glorified man was exalted by God to this position of sitting at His right hand for the first time.

(2) Jesus is not replacing Yahweh as he is not taking the seat of Yahweh, but sits at His right hand.

(3) Sitting at God’s right hand does not mean that Jesus is equal to Yahweh, but that Jesus is given a new status as God’s emissary to act on God’s behalf.

(4) Jesus is now sitting at God’s right hand in his resurrected body. When Jesus was raised from the dead, his body was transformed into a glorious and imperishable body. Jesus did not change into a deity. Neither is Jesus a spirit sitting at the right hand of God. Jesus’ resurrected body is still a physical one. After his resurrect­ion, Jesus appeared to his disciples and they thought they “saw a spirit” (Lk 24:37), so Jesus asked them to “touch his hands and feet” for “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (v. 39). Jesus was taken up to heaven in his resurrected body. “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus, the exalted man, will return in this glorious and imperishable body.

The key point: God endorsed Jesus as the Messiah when He exalted Jesus to sit at His right hand.

Point 5 – The promise of the Spirit is from the Father

Acts 2:33b “and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.” (ESV, italics added)

(1) The verb λαβὼν (labōn) translated as “having received” is in the active voice which focuses on the action of receiving the Spirit from the Father. It was only at the exaltation that Jesus received the Spirit from the Father. Only then was he able to pour the Spirit onto the disciples.

(2) While Jesus was on earth, the Spirit could not be given to the disciples yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified (Jn 7:39). But one time after Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to the disciples and breathed on them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22). Since Jesus had not yet been exalted to the Father’s right hand at this time, what would this action mean? This action took place after resurrection. Jesus connected this breathing of the Spirit to the power of forgiving sins and withholding the forgiveness of sins (v. 23). This could be a special anointing by Jesus to empower the core group of disciples with the Spirit to do God’s work. Jesus also instructed the disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, therefore it was important for everyone to corporately “wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4) to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

(3) This outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost was an attestation that Yahweh had indeed exalted Jesus to sit at His right hand.

(4) The Spirit that is poured out is the Spirit of Yahweh. In the OT, the Spirit is often referred to as “the Spirit of Yahweh.” (Jdgs 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1Sam 10:6; 16:13, 14; 2Sam 23:2; 1Ki 18:12; 22:24; 2Ki 2:16; 2Chr 18:23; 20:14; Isa 11:2; 40:13; 61:1; 63:14; Ezek 11:5; 37:1; Mic 3:8)

(5) God chooses to pour out His Spirit richly through Jesus Christ (cf. Titus 3:5-6). Jesus, the one anointed by God, plays a crucial instrumental role in pouring God’s Spirit to the disciples. He has become the one through whom God anoints the disciples.

The key point: Jesus received the Spirit from the Father to pour onto the disciples at Pentecost. This action confirms that God had indeed exalted Jesus to sit at His right hand.

Point 6 – God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ

Acts 2:36 “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (ESV, italics added)

The sermon reaches its climax — Yahweh has appointed Jesus to be the Lord (κύριος kyrios in Greek) and Christ (Χριστός Christos in Greek) for our salvation. These honorary titles were conferred on Jesus after the resurrection.

Jesus – the exalted Lord

What does it mean that God has made Jesus kyrios? Kyrios carries the meaning of ownership and authority. Yahweh is giving authority to Jesus to be His representative to rule as kyrios.

Jesus as Lord carries God’s authority. Jesus represents God. Jesus is ruling as God to us, but he is not God. By the same token, God made Moses as God to Pharaoh (Ex 7:1) and as God to Aaron (Ex 4:16). Moses was not God, but he represented God to Pharaoh and Aaron.

What is truly striking is that Yahweh delegates all His authority to Jesus to rule heaven and earth (Mt 28:18). Jesus as kyrios is now exerci­sing the Lordship that inherently belongs only to Yahweh. For a long time, Yahweh was the sole ruler of all, and not even the angels shared in that rule.

This radical step by God is unprecedented in heaven. Jesus as kyrios rules to the extent that even “angels, authorities and powers are subjected to him” (1Pet 3:22). The prophets and the angels in heaven marveled and longed to look into the salvation that God unfolds through the suffering and glory of the Messiah (cf. 1Pet 1:10-12). What the prophets predicted came true in Jesus Christ and today we experience the glorious salvation through Christ that the angels long to understand.

We are living in momentous times, a fact that many Christians are unaware of. “Many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see and did not see it and to hear what you hear and they did not hear it” (Mt 13:17; cf. 1Pet 1:10-12). We are now given the great privilege to see and hear what the prophets never experienced. If we could catch a vision of the glorious salvation program that God has in store for humanity, we would all be on fire for God.

Yahweh is not a high and lofty God who reigns alone. Jesus as the firstborn of the new creation is given the high privilege to rule with God as the exalted kyrios. Jesus had been tested and came through with humility in his perfect obedience to God. As the firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18; Rev 1:5), Jesus is the only man who has been raised from the dead and inaugu­rated to the heavenly throne before Yahweh.

Jesus as kyrios is totally distinct from Yahweh, the one God. It is biblically correct to understand the Lord Jesus as the man of heaven (1Cor 15:48-49). There is no suggestion in the Bible that being heavenly is to be a deity. Angels are heavenly beings created by God but they are not God. They worship God. Angels are mighty spiritual beings in hea­ven, yet we are instructed not to worship them (Rev 22:8-9). Jesus, the man of heaven, was raised to immortality which is positive proof that he never was the immortal God who alone has immortality in the first place.

Jesus as kyrios is exalted to the supreme role to rule, for which men were originally created for this purpose in the beginning (Gen 1:26-28; cf. Ps 8:4-8).

Jesus – the Messiah (Christ)

What does it mean that God has made Jesus Christos? Christos is the Greek translation of the Hebrew title מָשִׁיחַ (mashiach), “Messiah”, meaning “the anointed”.

In the OT, priests, kings, and prophets were anointed to do God’s work (Ex 28:41; 1Sam 10:1; 16:13; 1Ki 19:16, etc). These are all human agents of God’s anointed.

Jesus is the ultimate Anointed One, the one to fulfill the prophecy of the long awaited Messiah in the OT. The king Messiah is a human descendant from the line of David, and through this anointed agent, God will establish His Kingdom forever (2Sam 7:12-16).

The key point: God exalts Jesus to be Lord and Christ. As the exalted Lord and Messiah, Jesus is given all authority to rule heaven and earth on God’s behalf now and in the Kingdom to come.

“Lord Jesus Christ” in the NT

When Jesus was on earth, people would sometimes address him as “Lord” (Jn 8:11, 11:21, etc) or “Rabbi” (Jn 1:38, 49; 3:2; 6:25) in the Gospel accounts. These are polite titles of respect and reverence given to a master or teacher. It was only after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension that the title “Lord” takes on a new meaning as the “exalted Lord”.

In the New Testament, kyrios is mostly used as the exalted title for Jesus: Lord Jesus or Lord Jesus Christ.


Lord Jesus” and “Lord Jesus Christ” combined have 104 occurrences in NT.[5]

  1. “Lord Jesus” occurs only twice in the Gospel accounts, Mark and Luke, and only in the last chapters of these two books. Mark speaks of Jesus as “Lord Jesus” after he had been taken up into heaven and had sat down at the right hand of God (Mk 16:19). In Luke, Jesus is addressed as “Lord Jesus” after his resurrection (Lk 24:3).
  2. The Gospel narratives give an account of Jesus’ earthly life. When Jesus was on earth, he was not addressed as “Lord Jesus” or “Lord Jesus Christ” at all. Why? The exalted title “Lord” was given to Jesus only after His death and resurrection. In the gospel accounts of Jesus’ earthly life, he is called Jesus without any qualifying title.
  3. Among the NT writers, Paul is the one who likes to address Jesus with his exalted title Lord. His epistles to the Thessalonians, totaling 24 occurrences, have the highest number of occur­rences.
  4. The book of Acts speaks of “believing on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 11:17). Paul and Barnabas “risk their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:26). The final words of Acts are “proclaiming the King­dom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (28:31)
  5. The message of the Gospel in Acts is that Jesus is the Christ.
  • Every day in the temple and from house to house, the apostles kept teaching and preaching that “Jesus is the Christ” (5:42).
  • Paul confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that “Jesus was the Christ” (9:22).
  • In the synagogue in Thessalonica, Paul says, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ” (17:3).
  • When Paul was in Corinth, he testified to the Jews that “the Christ was Jesus” (18:5).
  • Apollos powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing from the Scriptures that “the Christ was Jesus” (18:28).
  1. It is inChrist Jesus our Lord” that we receive the free gift of eternal life from God (Rom 6:23). Nothing can separate us from the love of God in “Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39). Throughour Lord Jesus Christ,” God grants us victory over the sting of death and the power of sin (1Cor 15:55-57).

Lord Jesus Christ

Today we have been so used to hearing “Lord Jesus Christ” that the entire name with the titles does not strike us anymore. There is great authority in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sanctified and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 6:11).

Jesus is known as “Lord Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” or “Lord Jesus Christ” or “Lord Christ” or “Christ the Lord”.

(1) The Jewish church in the 1st century understood Jesus the Messiah as Lord, never as God. It was only later in the 2nd and 3rd centuries that people did not distinguish kyrios as applied to God and kyrios as applied to Jesus in the NT, leading to the error of equating “Lord Jesus” to “Lord God”.

(2) In the NT, the “Lord God” is always Yahweh and never Jesus (Lk 1:32, 68; Rev 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 18:8; 19:6; 21:22; 22:5,6). Jesus is never called “God the Lord”. We need to be clear on the identity of Jesus. Jesus is “Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11).

(3) Believing that Jesus is Lord and Jesus is Christ is crucial to salvation. But today the Gospel message has erroneously shifted to require people to believe that the “Jesus is God” for their salvation. There is no such proclamation in the New Testament.

(4) The NT gospel message is to confess that Jesus is Lord and Jesus is Christ. Any other confession will result in distorting the gospel of Christ (Gal 1:7) and in danger of preaching “another Jesus” (2Cor 11:4) of which Paul had forewarned.

(5) Paul explicitly says that there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (1Cor 8:6). The one God is the Father whose name is Yahweh and the one Lord is Jesus Christ. The line is drawn clearly in distinguishing the one God from the one Lord. Jesus Christ is Lord.

(6) Strikingly, in the Gospel narratives, Jesus does not refer himself as God. There is no “God Jesus” or “God Christ” in the NT. Jesus is the exalted Lord, the Messiah.

Requirements for Salvation


After listening to Peter’s powerful sermon, the people were cut to the heart and asked, “Brothers what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

Acts 2:38a And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (ESV, italics added)

The Greek word μετανοέω (metanoeō), to repent, means “to change one’s mind and purpose thoroughly”. A sincere remorse over sin is not enough as it is not a matter of regretting, but making a profound change to turn away from sin. Repentance is breaking away from the old habit of living in sins and turning to God.

Call out to God in repentance. You have many sins in your life. Confess your sins to God. Call out to God to seek forgiveness. Go and make restitutions for the wrongs you have done to others.

Call out to God to give you the courage to reconcile with God and with others. Humble yourself and call out to God. Do not be afraid. God will give you strength to deal with all your secret sins that no one knows. Expose yourself to God and cry out to God from the depths of your heart to receive God’s mercies. Apply the teaching in Joel to weep, lament and mourn for your sins.

Call out to God in brokenness with a contrite heart to receive forgive­ness. Only with true forgiveness from God will your inner being be set free from the bondage of sins.

Finish with your old life and make a complete 180 degree turnaround to commit your life to love God so as to live a life of holiness in God’s power. If you call yourself a Christian, have you made this radical step of metanoeō in your life?

Be baptized

Baptism is required for salvation. Repentance and getting baptized go together.

When I first received the Gospel, I was told that getting baptized is optional for a Christian. But in the early church, after a person repents, the person gets baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Far from baptism being an option, it is required for salvation to have all your sins forgiven. Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). A born again Christian repents and receives water baptism and the Spirit.

The Greek word βαπτισθήτω (baptisthētō) be baptized – the verb is in the aorist tense, imperative mood, and passive voice. The imperative mood signifies a command that needs to be obeyed. Baptism is crucial for salvation. The verb is passive, which means that the person cannot baptize himself, but needs to get baptized by a servant of God.

When we get baptized, we are making a covenant with God by entering into a union with Christ. We enter into a covenant with Christ. We are joined to Christ at baptism.

  1. To be baptized into Christ is to be united with Christ in his death and his life (Rom 6:3-5). In the immersion into water, we die with Christ and we are buried with him. We die and bury the old way of life. When we rise up from the water, we are raised up with him through faith in the powerful working of God (Col 2:12). We become a new person in Christ.
  2. To be baptized into Christ also means to put on Christ (Gal 3:27), to live the new life in obedience to do God’s will. We live as a new man in Christ.
  3. We are so united “with Christ” (Rom 6:8; 8:17; 15:5; 1Cor 12:12; Gal 2:20; Eph 2:5; Phil 1:23; Col 2:20; 3:1; Rev 20:4) that our life is hidden with Christ in Yahweh God (Col 3:3).

This act of baptism expresses our covenant with Yahweh God. We commit our lives to love Yahweh with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. We commit our lives to live under the Lordship of Jesus and become his disciple.

Baptism was conducted in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 19:5). “In the name of Jesus” should not be understood as a formula. “In the name of Jesus” carries the meaning of by the authority or power of the person. The apostles acted under the power and authority of Jesus when they used Jesus’ name. If a person does not live under the authority of Jesus, he should not use the name of Jesus.

Jesus’ authority was given to him by God the Father (Mt 28:18-19). When the early disciples acted in the authority of Jesus’ name, they were fully aware of acting in the name of the Father. Jesus always functioned in the name of the Father (Jn 5:43; 10:25). Similarly, when the disciples functioned in the name of Jesus, they also functioned in the name of the Father.

Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:38b “and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (ESV)

The imparting of the Spirit is vital for our salvation. When a person gets baptized, he needs to make the conscious effort to ask God to give him His Spirit. You don’t have because you don’t ask. Call out to God to give you His Spirit. A Christian is one who has the Spirit of God dwelling in him.

(1) God’s Spirit is crucial for our salvation

On one occasion, the Samaritans had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but did not receive the Spirit immediately (Acts 8:16). Receiving God’s Spirit is necessary for salvation, so Peter and John were sent to pray for them. The Spirit was then imparted to the Samaritans through the apostles’ laying on of hands (v.17).

On another occasion, there was a group of disciples in Ephesus who had received only John’s baptism. The first question Paul asked them was: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). What is puzzling is that these disciples professed to have believed, yet had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Paul then baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus (v.5) and imparted the Holy Spirit to them through the laying on of hands (v.6).

(2) The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to His people

Yahweh is the one who gives the Spirit (Acts 15:8; 1Cor 2:12; 2Cor 5:5; 1Thes 4:8; 1Jn 3:24; 4:13) to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

(3) God gives us the Spirit as a “pledge” (2Cor 5:5)

The Greek word for pledge is ἀρραβών (arrabōn) which can be translated as “a first installment” (MIT) or “a deposit” (NIV). The giving of God’s Spirit is a “down payment” (HCSB) with a guarantee of more to come.

We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when we first believe in the Gospel (Eph 1:13). In giving us the Spirit, God anoints us, seals us, and gives us a guarantee of His pledge to us. The gift of the Spirit is the guarantee or down payment (2Cor 1:22) of our inheritance (Eph 1:14)

(4) The Spirit is the defining mark of the Christian

“You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit” (Rom 8:9). All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom 8:14). Be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18; cf. Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9, 52).

(5) The Spirit is given to you to function in the Body

The gift of the Spirit is not for your own personal possession but so that you are incorporated into the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (ESV)

Some Christians live a defeated life because they want to possess the Spirit for their own personal gain and salvation. The Spirit is not given for that purpose. A Christian gets baptized into the body of Christ in order to drink of one Spirit. The Spirit is given to the Christian so that he can function as a member of the body of Christ.

Being a member of the body of Christ is not equivalent to being a member of the church. To be on the list of church membership can be nominal in that it is simply an identity within a church group or organization.

Being a member of the body of Christ transforms our inner being because each member lives for the other members of the body. The hand does not live for itself but for the leg, the mouth, and the other members of the body (cf. 1Cor 12:20-27). The Spirit enables us to live out the body life in the Church. The members are integrated with one another to work in harmony for the oneness of the body. We are responsible for one another. We love one another as ourselves as we take care of each other to keep the body healthy, active, and functioning.

When I got baptized, I was told that I would become a member of the church in the sense of joining the church membership. The church mem­bership was strictly personal and did not require me to be responsible for the other people on the membership list. I didn’t even know the name of the person sitting next to me, in front of me or behind me during church worship. Church attendance and joining activities were the measuring sticks of the Christian life rather than a new transformed life that is totally committed to God and to one another in the body life.

In the church that my husband and I have shepherded in the last 30+ years, we do not require people to join church membership but we do nurture each baptized member to participate actively in the body life, to love God and love one another as ourselves. When we take communion, each member participates actively in one another’s life for each other’s edification. The members know one another not just by name but are united deeply in prayer and in building up the body life together. Only in this way do we experience the movement of the Spirit corporately in our lives.

Ask the Father for the Holy Spirit

In the new covenant, Yahweh opens up a new path for all His children to ask Him for the gift of the Spirit. Even though God is so desirous to give the Spirit to His children, they still need to ask for the Spirit.

Luke 11:13 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (ESV, underline added).

The Greek word for “ask” is aitousin. This is a present participle in the active mood. It would be more correct to translate it as “how much more willing is the heavenly Father who is in heaven to give the Holy Spirit to those who are asking him.” The active present participle means that the action of asking is continuous.

Keep calling out to God and ask for God’s Spirit to constantly fill you. The Father is more than willing to give His Spirit to His children who ask. God will not force His Spirit on you. When you keep asking, you will live in the Spirit and bear fruit that abides in your life.

Drink from the fountain of living water

The asking for the Spirit has to do with the Spirit actively moving in your life.

John 7:37-39a On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive. (ESV, italics added).

God’s Spirit empowers us and transforms our lives, out of which flow rivers of living water.

(1) Jesus speaks of the Spirit as living water. When the Spirit works in our lives, we are transformed. Living water works in a remarkable way. Living water cleanses. Living water moves. Living water heals.

(2) Are you thirsty? A thirsty man is a focused man because he will look for water to quench his thirst. Jesus said, “Come to me and drink”. You do not get the filling of God’s Spirit automatically. You need to go to Jesus and drink.

(3) Why Jesus? Jesus takes you to drink from the fountain of life. Yahweh is the fountain of living water (Jer 17:13). Call to Yahweh. Drink! Don’t just take one sip. Those who are thirsty will drink.

(4) Drink daily. This is how I get renewed day by day. Moving water is fresh. Walk daily in the freshness of the Spirit that comes from Yahweh. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit. The Spirit flows from God into our hearts like a river.

(5) We don’t drink our own water but from God’s fountain. The water from God transforms us. Our water goes out to others. Get refreshed by God so that you can refresh others.

(6) Notice the word “flow”. It is not drops of water trickling out but rivers of water gushing out from you. As you drink, let the Spirit move in your life so that you become a channel of blessing to others. Let the power of God flow through us.

By God’s grace, may the water that flows out from us satisfy thirsty and weary souls in the world. Call to Father Yahweh to ask for His Spirit to move through your life unhindered.

Draw water from Yahweh

Isaiah 12:2-4 “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid for YH YHWH is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to YHWH, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.’” (ESV, YHWH restored, italics added)

(1) Yahweh God is our salvation. Yahweh saves us. Call on Yahweh and experience His salvation.

(2) The repetition of God’s Name YH YHWH denotes emphasis (YH is the short form of YHWH). Have confidence in Yahweh. Behold, Yahweh is our salvation! With joy, we draw water from the wells of salvation.

(3) There is something that we need to do. Draw. We need to draw just like we need to drink.

(4) You don’t experience God’s salvation in a passive way. Ask the Father. Call on Yahweh. Draw and drink. Keep drawing and keep drink­ing from the wells of salvation (Isa 12:3).

Isaiah 58:11 “And YHWH will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (ESV, YHWH restored; italics added)

What a precious promise this is! When we call out to Yahweh God, He satisfies us with living water so that we can become a watered garden like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Not only does it quench the thirsty souls, it becomes a spring of water welling up to eternal life (Jn 4:14).

Keep drawing and keep drinking. I have counseled many Christians who often complain to me that their spiritual lives are dry and barren. When the well runs dry, stop all activities.

Call to Yahweh and drink the living water from God’s fountain to live a vibrant life in the Spirit. Become a spring of water that brings others to the fountain of life.

God Pours out His Spirit

Acts 2:17-18 “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” (ESV, italics added)

In the event at Pentecost, Peter quotes the prophecy of Joel to highlight the gracious act of God in the liberal pouring of His Spirit. Call out to God to pour His Spirit onto you. Twice, God says that He will pour out His Spirit. The Greek word ἐκχέω (ekcheō) for “pour out” has the meaning of “bestowing liberally” or “distributing largely” (TDNT).

(1) The action of pouring carries a sense of magnitude and richness. God is ever so willing to pour His Spirit on us to fill us to such an extent that His Spirit overflows from our lives and we are full of the Spirit. What a great promise this is! God grants us His gift in overabundance!

In Acts, the result of the outpouring of God’s Spirit is that the disciples are constantly filled with the Spirit.

Acts 2:4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit …”

Acts 4:8 “Then Peter, filled with the Spirit, said to them …”

Acts 4:31b “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness”

Acts 9:17b “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 13:9 “But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.”

Acts 13:52 “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

While the outpouring of the Spirit is an exciting event, the ongoing experience of being filled with God’s Spirit is necessary in the life of a Christian. Some Christians have the wrong idea that the filling of the Spirit is like going to a gas station to fill up the tank full every time the gas is consumed to the empty mark. The filling of the Spirit does not work that way.

Eph 5:18 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”

Paul exhorts the Ephesian Christians to be filled with the Spirit all the time. The Greek verb “be filled” πληροῦσθε (plērousthe) is in the present tense, imperative mood, and passive voice. The passive voice indicates that you cannot fill yourself. God is the one who fills you. The imperative is a command, therefore it is not optional. The filling is in the present tense which means that the filling is an ongoing process. You do not “top up” the filling of the Spirit like you “top up” your wallet.

Paul compares the filling of the Spirit to being drunk with wine. When a person is drunk, he is controlled by the wine. In like manner, when a person is filled with the Spirit, he is controlled by the Spirit. He lives according to the Spirit as he sets his mind of the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:5). This is how we “walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16), “live by the Spirit” (v. 25), “keep in step with the Spirit” (v. 25), and “sow to the Spirit (6:8) all the time. Being filled with the Spirit is not a matter of how much more you are getting from the Spirit, but whether the Spirit is in control of your life, empowering you unhindered. The filling of the Spirit is a steady process that does not stop but continues to overflow in your life every day.

Let your mind be renewed by the fresh wind of the Spirit every day. Call on Yahweh God to always fill you with His Spirit so that you consistently produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). The Spirit of God works steadily in our lives through the continual filling so that we grow in love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentles and self-control. When a person is in that state, he is “full of the Spirit”.

Acts 6:3 “Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.”

Acts 6:5 “And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit …”

Acts 7:55 “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

Acts 11:24 “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.”

When a man is full of the Spirit is, he is also full of faith to do God’s work. We cannot live a day without the filling of the Spirit. When the Spirit fills us, he anoints us to the full. I always humbly ask for the filling of the Spirit every day to do God’s will and accomplish the assignments given to me.

(2) When the Spirit of Yahweh overflows in our lives, the effect is so great that even the dry desolate wilderness can turn into a fruitful field and become a forest.

Isaiah 32:15 “until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.” (ESV, italics added)

The pouring of the Spirit is from on high, meaning that it comes from Yahweh.

The pouring dramatically changes a wilderness into a flourishing forest. A wilderness is barren and unfruitful. A few years ago, we took our church brethren to walk through the wilderness of Israel. The Negev desert was dry and the ground brittle. All that the wilderness produced were briers and thorns. The harsh and barren wasteland remains vividly in my mind. But when God’s Spirit is poured out and powerfully works in us, even such dry brittle ground can produce streams of water. What a miracle! The desolate place can come to life. The barren land can blossom into a rich and flourishing forest. Can you sense the excite­ment of what God’s Spirit can do through us in this dry and barren world?

Call out to God to pour His Spirit onto you to transform the world through you.

(3) In Acts, the outpouring of the Spirit is not a one-time event in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Soon afterwards, the Gentiles in other places also experienced the pouring of the Spirit (Acts 10:45; cf. Acts 11:15; 19:6). The early churches were established in the anointing and fullness of God’s Spirit.

It is God’s intention that the church becomes a prophetic commun­ity with the empowering of His Spirit. In this age of the church and the Spirit, we are called to be a people who function in the anointing of God’s Spirit. Visions and dreams are given to young and old. Everyone regard­less of age, gender and status, can receive direct revelations from God and so become messengers of Yahweh.

God wants to pour His Spirit onto us. Let’s call out to God to fill us full with His Spirit to prophesy to this generation.

(4) Acts 2 foreshadows the mission of the Church to all nations. After Pentecost, the apostles carried the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome. Before the age of the church closes, the Church has a mission to fulfill. Not only do we bring the Gospel to “all nations” (Mt 24:14) but we also need to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19) before the end comes.

The Greek word for nations is ἔθνος (ethnos) from which the English word “ethnicity” is derived. We need to cross racial barriers and cultural differences to proclaim the Gospel. When all the tribes of the world are reached, the end will come. Let us go forward to keep calling out to God to fill us full with His Spirit to finish the unfinished task before the end comes.

Salvation in Yahweh and Jesus

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (ESV, italics added)

With a clearer understanding of the message at Pentecost regarding how God works out His salvation plan through the Lord Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit, we are now in a better position to grasp what it means to call on the name of the Lord for our salvation.


The Greek word for “call” is ἐπικαλέσηται (epikalesētai) which carries the meaning of “to put a name on, to cry out, to call upon, to invoke, and to appeal” (TDNT). Here the verb is in aorist tense, subjunc­tive mood, and middle voice.

(1) The aorist tense means that the action could take place in past, present or future. There is no English equivalent for this Greek tense. Aorist is a “simple occurrence” or “summary occurrence” without regard for the amount of time that it takes to accomplish the action. The tense is viewed as a single collective whole. The action of calling may take place at one point in time (past tense) but also over a period of time into the future.

(2) The subjunctive mood means that the action carries a probable result.

(3) The middle voice indicates that the person who is doing the calling is acting on his own behalf.

To experience God’s salvation, we need to respond to God by “calling”. We are not to be passive. God gives us the free will to call Him in our own initiative.

Shall be Saved

The Greek word for “shall be saved” is σωθήσεται (sōthēsetai) meaning “saved, healed, made whole or delivered from danger” (TDNT). The word is in the passive voice, future tense, and indicative mood.

(1) The passive voice emphasizes that the action is something done to us. We are the recipients of the action. We cannot save ourselves.

(2) The verb tense is future. We anticipate and look forward to the final salvation to take place. Salvation is an ongoing process. We are saved, being saved, and will be saved.

(3) The indicative mood indicates assertion or presentation of certainty.

The NT speaks of three tenses in salvation: was saved, being saved and will be saved. We were saved (Rom 8:24); we are being saved (1Cor 1:18); and we will be saved when we endure to the end (Mt 24:13). Those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Salvation in the NT is not “once saved always saved”. Those who have been saved must endure faithfully to the end for their final salvation. We need to make a start to call on the name of the Lord and to continue calling on the name of the Lord for final salvation.

Yahweh and Jesus are Saviors

Who is our Savior? In the context of the passage which quotes Joel, Yahweh God is the One who saves. The prophecy of Joel is partly fulfilled at Pentecost where Peter explains that God is the One who works out His salvation plan through Jesus the Messiah. Jesus the exalted Lord also saves.

Both Yahweh and Jesus are Saviors. Paul understands the roles of God and Jesus very well as he tells Titus: God our Savior saves through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Titus 3:4-6 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God (Yahweh) our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (ESV, underline added).

Both God and Jesus Christ are Saviors but their roles are different.

(1) Yahweh as Savior is the one actively performing the saving work: God saves us not because of our works but according to His mercy. God does the work in the washing of regeneration. God renews us with His Spirit. God pours out His Spirit richly onto us. God chooses to pour His Spirit through Jesus Christ.

(2) Jesus Christ is the channel which God uses to save us, therefore Jesus Christ is also our Savior.

(3) The source of salvation originates from Yahweh.

Yahweh as Savior

Yahweh as Savior is a theme that threads through the OT.

Isaiah 43:3a “For I am Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43:11 “I, I am Yahweh, and besides me there is no savior.

Isaiah 45:15 “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.”

Isaiah 45:21 “… Was it not I, Yahweh? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.”

Isaiah 49:26 “… Then all flesh shall know that I am Yahweh your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Isaiah 60:16 “you shall know that I, Yahweh, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Hosea 13:4 “But I am Yahweh your God from the land of Egypt, you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.”

(The above verses are taken from ESV, YHWH restored)

In the New Testament, “God our Savior” is used in the following passages:

1 Timothy 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior …”

1 Timothy 2:3-4 “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

1 Timothy 4:10 “… we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

Titus 1:3 “… I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.”

Titus 2:10 “… so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”

Jude 1:25 “To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord …”

Jesus Christ as Savior

Jesus Christ as Savior is mostly used by Peter in his second epistle:

2 Peter 1:1 “… To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter 1:11 “… an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 2:20 “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ …”

2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ …”

2 Peter 3:2 “That you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.”

Paul also mentions Jesus Christ as our Savior:

Ephesians 5:23 “… Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”

Titus 1:4 “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”

Titus 2:13 “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

2 Timothy 1:10 “And which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus …”

Yahweh saves through Jesus

Both Yahweh and Jesus are our Saviors. Yahweh is our ultimate Savior.

  1. Yahweh is the Father who “sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1Jn 4:14)
  2. Yahweh is the One who exalted Jesus “at his right hand as Leader and Savior.” (Acts 5:31)
  3. God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.” (Acts 13:23)

Yahweh our ultimate Savior saves through Jesus Christ, who is also our Savior.

The Name of the Lord

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (ESV)

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of YHWH shall be saved. (ESV, YHWH restored)

Acts 2:21 is a citation of Joel 2:32. The original Hebrew text has to do with calling on the name of YHWH for salvation. Peter as a Jew would have been reluctant to vocalize the Name YHWH when he cited this text publicly. Ever since the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE, they were afraid of misusing God’s Name. They began the tradition of substituting God’s Name by calling God “Adonai” (“Lord” in Hebrew). This is contrary to the pre-exilic practices. The Jews stopped vocalizing the Name after the exile. God’s Name YHWH was not vocalized anymore in public. This was the historical situation at the time of the apostle Peter in the 1st century CE.

Another consideration is that in the 3rd BCE, Greek became the common language of the Hellenistic world. It became necessary for the Hebrew Bible to be translated into Greek, later known as the Septuagint, LXX. The rabbis translated “YHWH” as kyrios. If Peter quoted Joel 2:32 from the LXX, he would have used the word kyrios which means “Lord”. Even though kyrios was used, the Jews in the 1st century were aware that kyrios was a placeholder word for YHWH. It is beyond doubt that Peter had the calling of the name of YHWH in mind when he quoted from Joel.

Given the entire context of the sermon at Pentecost, could Peter also have in mind that the calling on the name of kyrios here is referring to Jesus?

  1. In the entire sermon message, Peter explains how Yahweh God saves through Jesus and exalted him to sit at His right hand as Lord (Acts 2:34).
  2. The thrust of the message at Pentecost is that God has made Jesus Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). The Greek word kyrios (Lord) occurs seven times in the sermon (2:20, 21, 25, 34, 34, 36, 39). Most of the time kyrios refers to Yahweh, but it is used specifically of Jesus in Acts 2:34 (“my Lord”) and Acts 2:36.
  3. Peter wishes to drive home the point to let the house of Israel “know for certain” (asphalōs) that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ. The Greek word asphalōs means “safely, securely, assuredly, with certainty, firmly, steadfastly” (TDNT). It is with firm assurance that Jesus is both Lord and Christ.

In the sermon, Peter was careful to expound that God is the One who performs the work of salvation in Jesus and through Jesus. The eternal principle of calling on the Name of Yahweh for our salvation always holds true because Yahweh is the One who saves. At the same time, Peter is focusing on God making Jesus to be Lord. The entire sermon is to let the house of Israel know with firm certainty that Jesus Christ is Lord.

We call on the name of Jesus
upon the foundation by which
Yahweh has made Jesus Lord for our salvation.

Yahweh saves us through Jesus. Both Yahweh and Jesus are Saviors. Ultimately, it is Yahweh who saves.

Jesus is the head of the Church

We call on Jesus as Lord because he is the head of the Church. As kyrios, Jesus is now the exalted Lord acting in God’s authority in heaven. Yahweh God has conferred on Jesus the authority to rule as head of the church.

Listen to the excitement in Paul’s heart as he writes to the Ephesians regarding God’s work in exalting Jesus to be head of the Church.

Ephesians 1:17–19 “that the God (Yahweh) of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he (Yahweh) has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his (Yahweh’s) power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.” (ESV, parentheses and underline added)

Can you see the marvelous work of Yahweh God? This is too magnifi­cent! A wonder to behold! Then Paul continues:

Ephesians 1:20–23 “And that he (Yahweh) worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And he (Yahweh) put all things under his (Jesus’) feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (ESV, parentheses and underline added)

  1. Yahweh God is the One who works in Jesus: raised him, seated him at His right hand, put all things under his feet, and finally gave him as head over all things to the church.
  2. Jesus as the head of the Church is the Leader of the Church who leads and guides the Church by the Spirit.
  3. We tend to think of the head as a tyrannical authoritarian posi­tion. In biblical understanding, the head exercises the authority to lead people in the ways of God.

In the OT, Yahweh acts as their “head” (ESV, LEB, NASV, NIV Micah 2:13). The Hebrew word for “head” is רֹאשׁ (rosh), which carries the meaning that Yahweh is their leader (HCSB). Yahweh as the head is the one who leads by standing before them as well as behind them as their rear guard (Isa 52:12). It is similar to the Exodus journey during which the pillar of cloud moved before them yet also stood behind them (Ex 14:19). As head of Israel, Yahweh leads the way for the Israelites to go forward, and He also protects them from the enemies lurking behind them. Jesus, as the head of the Church, also leads in the same manner for his body. When I shepherd God’s people, I also lead the sheep in front of them, but more so behind them in the last few years because of the dire need to safeguard the sheep from the enemies.

The early church called on the name of Jesus. Why? Jesus is the head of the Church (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18). And the head of Christ is God (1Cor 11:3). The Church submits to Christ as Christ submits to God.

Jesus is Lord of the Church

We call on Jesus as our Lord because Jesus, the head of the church, is Lord of the church.

1 Corinthians 1:2 “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” (ESV, underline and italics added).

The early church called on the name of the Lord Jesus because they recognized that God has conferred the Lordship on Jesus. They call on the name of Jesus because Jesus is “their Lord”.

In the Sitz im Leben (“setting in life”) of the early church, the disciples were identi­fied as “those who call on the name” (Acts 9:14, 21; 22:16). The apostles acted in Jesus’ authority when they called on the name of Jesus. Jesus’ authority comes from God. Ultimately, it is God who gives the authority when the name of Jesus is used.

A chain of command to follow

God → Lord Jesus Christ → Church

  1. God – The head of Christ

Lord Jesus submits to the Lordship of Yahweh God.

  1. Christ – The head of the Church

The church submits to the Lordship of Christ.

Church → submits to Christ → submits to God

Today, God rules the Church through the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as Christ lives in obedience to God (head of Christ), we live in obedience to Christ (head of the Church). When we live in obedience to Christ, we also live in obedience to God for God is above all.

Always keep in mind the following two important points regarding the relationship of Jesus to his Father:

  1. Jesus has a Lord above him whom he calls Father. “I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Mt 11:25).
  2. Jesus also has a God above him whom he calls Father. “Father the hour has come … and this is eternal life that they may know you the only true God” (Jn 17:1, 3).

Yahweh is the Lord and God of Jesus Christ. Today, Jesus as head of the church is God’s representative to rule as Lord in the church. Our submission to Jesus expresses our submission to Yahweh.

When we call on the name of the Lord Jesus,
Jesus directs us to Yahweh who is all in all.

Live under the Lordship of God and Jesus

Calling on the name of the Lord is a lifestyle of living under the Lordship of God and Jesus. If Jesus is not Lord of your life, what benefit is there to calling on the name of Jesus? Similarly, if Yahweh is not your God, what benefit is there to calling on the name of YHWH? Make it your daily goal to live in obedience to God and to Jesus.

The outpouring of God’s Spirit in Acts 2 is the beginning of a new page in history in which God’s Spirit is made available to the body of Christ with Jesus as the head. The focus of the outpouring of God’s Spirit is not just on individuals but on the corporate community of God’s people functioning in the Spirit.

We are living in the age of the Church and the Spirit of God. Not only does each individual call on the name of the Lord, but the church as a whole calls on the name of the Lord corporately to live out the life of the Kingdom. Through the empowering of the Spirit, we manifest the reality of the Kingdom in the body life.

We call on the Lord for the Empowering of the Spirit

We call on Yahweh and the Lord Jesus to empower us with the Spirit to advance God’s Kingdom. The following statistical bar chart shows the distribution of πνεῦμα (pneuma) in the New Testament.[6]


Acts has the highest frequency with 71 occurrences of pneuma. Pneuma is a key word of Acts.

“The Spirit” in Greek is in the neuter form meaning that the Spirit is referred to as “it” and is not a masculine form “he”. The Athanasian Creed claims that the Holy Spirit is God which resulted in the translators reading a masculine “he” for the Spirit. The definition of pneuma is “a movement of air, of the wind; a breath” (TDNT). Read the New Testament again with the correct understanding of the Spirit. Do not read the Spirit as a separate person by himself. You will be able to see for yourself that the Spirit refers to God’s Spirit.

The Spirit belongs to God. Even though it is neuter, the Spirit from God is personable. We can grieve the Spirit (Eph 4:30). The Spirit is God’s breath. We can feel the powerful movement of God like wind. The Spirit is not a separate entity of its own but is God’s Spirit moving in our lives. Simply put, the Spirit is God’s power in action. Jesus always functions in the power of God’s Spirit (Lk 4:14).

The book of Acts portrays how God’s Spirit empowers the disciples to advance God’s Kingdom in building up communities of churches. This book has always been my life manual all these years in shepherding the church. Just as God’s Spirit worked so powerfully in the life of the early church, the Spirit of God can move in the same way today in our churches.

When God pours His Spirit to fill us full, He empowers us. Do we have the faith to call on the Lord to empower us with His Spirit so that the life of God is dynamically manifested through our churches?

The Spirit empowers us to Witness

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (ESV, italics added)

Call on the Lord to empower us with the Spirit to witness. When the Spirit is in action, there is power. We are called to be witnesses for Christ. The Greek word for “witnesses” is μάρτυς (martys) from which the English word “martyr” is derived. To be a witness for Christ is to be a martyr. This is only possible when we surrender ourselves to let the Spirit of God transform us from glory to glory. Many early apostles suffered martyrdom because they did not shrink back under severe persecutions.


Stephen is a person empowered with the Spirit to be a witness of Jesus. “The blood of your martyr” was a term Paul used to describe Stephen (Acts 22:20).

Three times, Stephen’s life is described as “full of the Spirit” (Acts 6:3, 5; 7:55). After he was selected to be one of the seven to serve tables (Acts 6:2-3), he also exercised “the ministry of the word” (v.4) such that his listeners “could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (v.10). Stephen was not even an apostle but one who served tables in the Jerusalem church.

When the Spirit of God filled him, he spoke the word so powerfully that “all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15).

Stephen’s life was short but intense. The power of the Spirit flowed out of him with no trace of bitterness in the face of dire hostility. The raging council “stopped their ears” (Acts 7:57) and rushed out with one purpose: they “cast him out of the city and stoned him” (v. 58). A person who is full of the Spirit has a powerful presence of God in him and he has no fear.

As the enemies stoned Stephen, he called out to Jesus, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59; cf. Lk 23:46). And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60; cf. Lk 23:34). It always amazes me that Stephen sees Jesus “standing” at the right hand of God at his martyrdom (Acts 7:55-56). It is as if Luke was trying to make a significant point as the “standing” is repeated twice, once in his narration and once from Stephen’s mouth. This is the only place in which Jesus is found standing at the right hand of God. Often times, Jesus is in a seated position. Know that when the time comes for us to face martyrdom, Jesus is there to strengthen us to receive us.

Stephen was a true follower of Jesus. Like master, like disciple.

Martyrdom did not stop the witness of those who lost their lives for God in the early Church. Stephen’s martyrdom left a deep mark in Paul (Acts 7:58; 8:1; 22:20), who later on also became a martyr for Christ. Church tradition says that Paul was beheaded under Nero’s cruel perse­cution after the great fire in 64 CE in Rome. The voice of the martyrs still speaks today through Stephen’s sermon and Paul’s letters.


Antipas was a faithful witness of Jesus in the Pergamum Church (Rev 2:13). Little is known about Antipas but his sacrificial death did not escape the eyes of Jesus who has the keys of Death and Hades (Rev 1:18).

This unsung hero is a faithful disciple of Jesus in Pergamum for “holding fast his name and did not deny his faith” (Rev 2:13).

The original Greek text “ὁ μάρτυς μου ὁ πιστός μου” (ho martys mou ho pistos mou) is translated as “my martyr my faithful one” which shows Antipas is commended on two counts: as martyr and as the faithful one.

Antipas is following his master Jesus who is called “ὁ μάρτυς, ὁ πιστός” (ho martyrs, ho pistos), the martyr, the faithful one (Rev 1:5).

Antipas was a true follower of Jesus. Like master, like disciple.

Be witnesses

As disciples of Jesus, let’s give our all to be a faithful witness for Christ. Call on the Lord to empower us with the Spirit of God to be torchbearers for Christ in these end times.

Covid-19 is only a little taste of the end times. The difficulties and restrictions are training and equipping us to be stronger to face more terrible days that are coming around the corner. There will be great tribulations when the antichrist appears. Persecution will increase with greater and greater intensity. And we will be hated by all nations (Mt 24:8-9). Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold (v.12).

Call on the Lord to fill us with God’s Spirit in order that we may en­dure to the end, and that our love does not grow cold under dire hostility.

Let us be counted worthy to sacrifice our lives on the altar to be “martyrs of Jesus” (Rev 17:6).

The Spirit empowers us with the Word

Acts 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (ESV, italics added)

Call on the Lord to fill us with the Spirit to speak the word of God with boldness. The apostles constantly spoke the word of God to help people come to faith. After healing the lame man, Peter took the opportunity to preach about God and Christ (Acts 3:12-26). The chief priests and elders wanted to silence them, so they warned them not to teach in the name of Jesus (4:17-18). But the word of God cannot be bound. Even when Peter and John were arrested and put in custody, they continued speaking the word with boldness. It is like the situation that we are now experiencing under the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Covid-19 brought the world to its knees with city lockdowns such that the body of Christ cannot meet physically. But the word of God cannot be bound. We all became witnesses of how the word of God spread even farther and wider through cyberspace and internet technologies.

The Spirit fills us with the Word

When Jesus fills us with the Spirit from God, he fills us with the word of God. The effect in the early church was that the word of God increased, multiplied, and prevailed.

Acts 6:7 “And the word of God continued to increase and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem …”

Acts 12:24 “But the word of God increased and multiplied.”

Acts 19:20 “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”

How does the word increase and multiply in the church? The word is like a seed planted in the hearts of people. When the word is imple­mented in our lives, it takes root. As we live out the word, our spiritual life grows and bears fruit.

The power is in the word of God. My husband and I always make it our aim to work hard to build up the church with the word of God. We work hard like farmers. We sow, plant, and water. God gives the growth (1Cor 3:6). As was true for the early church in Acts, God’s Spirit can move mightily in our church through the uncompromising preaching of the word of God.

The Spirit and the Word

God’s Spirit and His Word worked powerfully in the life of the apostles. Are we filled with the Spirit to speak the word?

  1. It is like the experience of David in which “the Spirit of Yahweh speaks by me, his word is on my tongue” (2Sam 23:2).
  2. The apostle John says, “he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure” (Jn 3:34).
  3. Men of God experience great power when “the word of Yahweh comes to them.”[7]
  4. God makes known His words to us when He pours His Spirit on us. “Behold I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you” (Prov 1:23).
  5. When Peter preached in Cornelius’ house (Acts 10:34-43), “The Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (v.44).

Clearly, God’s Spirit works mightily on the hearers when the word is preached faithfully. I am always humbled when I see God’s Spirit moving in our congregation when God’s word is preached accurately in His power. In all these 30+ years, I can never repeat a sermon the same way because the word of God is alive and active all the time. I always need to start from scratch when I prepare sermons in the Spirit. Even if it is to expound a Bible passage I had expounded before, God always reveals deeper truths through His Spirit.

Our ministry team always prays together to ask for the filling of the Spirit before the worship and preaching. We always seek the anointing of the Spirit to move among us with fresh wind. Even though I am always well prepared with pages of notes in delivering the sermon (it is our responsibility to work diligently to feed the sheep), I always stand in fear and trembling when speaking the word of God. God’s Spirit would some­times tell me what to say in the moment. At times, there is deep silence. The silence would be so intense that you can hear the echo of your own voice. When people are intensely listening and hearts are being touched by the Spirit of God, I feel, as it were, “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Pet 1:21). Sometimes I see teary eyes. Afterwards, they would ask me, “How do you know what my problem is?” I say, “I don’t. God knows.” They would be prompted by the Spirit to confess their sins to seek for­giveness. We would be in the back room of the church praying together. Sometimes disciplinary actions need to be implemented to help them overcome sins. At other times, restitution is required to make things right with God and others.

“The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17). One time, after leading a Bible study at night, within a couple of hours, I received an email from a member in the Bible study group. She was greatly con­victed of her hypocrisy and could not rest until the problem was quickly dealt with. The power of the word cut deeply into her heart like a two-edged sword. We become bystanders as we watch the Spirit of God at work.

The Jerusalem Council

The Holy Spirit worked mightily in the Jerusalem council when the apos­tles gathered together to make decisions regarding the controversy that came upon the Antioch Church. The apostles and the elders based their decisions by reflecting on God’s unfolding plan of salvation through Scripture, particularly the words of the prophets (Acts 15:15-18; cf. Amos 9:11-12; Isa 9:7; 43:7).

The apostles were guided by the Spirit through evidences in the Scripture. “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality” (Acts 15:28-29; cf. Lev 3:17; 17:8-13; 18:6-20).

Judas and Silas delivered the letter to Antioch and “were themselves prophets” (Acts 15:32). Prophets know Scripture and rightly discern the mind of God through the Spirit.

We must open our ears to listen to the Spirit of God. “He who has an ear, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). We are now near the end of the church age. Let us call on the Lord and tune our ears to hear what God’s Spirit has to say to our churches. Do we have prophets like the prophets of the Jerusalem church to lead our churches today?

The Spirit empowers us to advance the Kingdom of God

Let’s call on the Lord to empower us with the Spirit to advance the Kingdom of God. When Jesus came, he brought the presence and the nearness of the Kingdom of God to earth. We can experience the present reality of the Kingdom when we live under God’s rule. Where God reigns, there is the manifestation of the Kingdom. Today, the Kingdom is here in a limited sense, and will only be in its full manifestation in the Messianic age when Jesus ushers in the Kingdom on earth. The Kingdom has come partly but not fully yet. We can now experience the dynamic power of the Kingdom because of the power of God’s Spirit working in the Church with Jesus ruling as the head. In the future, there will be the final consummation of the Kingdom when all enemies are defeated under Jesus’ reign on earth.

God’s Kingdom has a wider scope than the Church. The Church is the community of God’s people living out the life of the Kingdom. With the empowering of the Spirit, the presence of the Kingdom is manifested powerfully through active participation of the body life.

In Acts, the apostles built communities of churches in the power of the Spirit to live out the Kingdom message so as to advance God’s Kingdom.

Philip – Carried by the Spirit

Philip’s movements were constantly directed by the Spirit. Philip was “full of the Spirit” as he was chosen to be one of the seven to serve tables (Acts 6:3). Serving tables did not stop him from the ministry of the word.

Acts 8:12 “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women.” (ESV, italics added)

Philip was the first disciple to take the Gospel outside Jerusalem. He came to Samaria and proclaimed the Kingdom of God to the Samaritans. This was a turn of events as the Samaritans, who were despised by the Jews, came to faith in Christ. When the apostles heard that the Samaritans had received the word of God, Peter and John went down there to lay hands on them to receive the Spirit. The first Samaritan church was established by the Jewish leaders. The apostles continued preaching the Gospel to many villages of the Samaritans (v.25).

Acts 8:29 “And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” (ESV, italics added)

The direction from the Spirit was very specific. Philip went up to the chariot and found a eunuch reading the Scripture. This eunuch was an important court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was in charge of her entire treasury. He came across a passage in Isaiah which he needed to understand. The eunuch wanted to know the identity of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:7-8. Both Philip and the eunuch were guided by the Spirit and Scripture. Philip opened up the Scripture to him and told him about the good news of Jesus. So responsive was the eunuch that he immediately asked to be baptized when he saw water along the way.

Acts 8:38 “And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” (ESV)

This whole incident was earth shattering to the early church as a eunuch was baptized into a community of God’s people. His physical deformity and his race would have prevented him from entering the Temple to approach God (Deut 23:1). But now God had prepared a Jew to explain Scripture to him on the chariot. This incident confirms Yahweh’s promise to the eunuchs of their inclusion in God’s house should they hold fast to his covenant (Isa 56:4-5). God’s work was further advanced to Ethiopia, the ancient kingdom of Kush, through this high ranking eunuch returning home “rejoicing” to his native land (Acts 8:39).

Acts 8:39b “The Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away …” (ESV, italics added)

Having finished the work of baptizing the eunuch, the Spirit carried Philip away from the desert to Azotus (v.40) for another preaching miss­ion. Azotus was an old Philistine city formerly called Ashdod. Philip proclaimed “the good news to all the towns” (v.40) through the coastal plains, and his journey ended at Caesarea.

It is no wonder that Philip has “four unmarried daughter who pro­phesied” (Acts 21:9). Philip must have been so filled with Scripture and the Spirit in all his missions that he was able to bring up his daughters to become prophetesses.

Through the empowering of the Spirit, Philip had a part in advancing God’s work and Kingdom in Samaria, Kush, and Caesarea.

Peter – Directed by the Spirit

The Spirit of God was advancing the Kingdom by directing Peter to minister to the Gentiles.

Cornelius was a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man who was well spoken of even by the entire nation of the Jews. An angel gave him instructions to send men to Joppa to find Peter. Even the specific name of the person whom Peter was residing with, and his trade as tanner, were also given to him. So precise was the instruction that the direction of his house by the sea was given. Today, you can even locate the traditional site above the ancient port of Old Jaffa. The timing of the arrival of the three men was so precise that when they entered Joppa, Peter was in the middle of understanding his vision.

Acts 10:19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation for I have sent them.” (ESV, italics added)

The Spirit of God specifically directed Peter to rise and accompany the men to Cornelius’s house.

Acts 11:12a “And the Spirit told me to go with them.” (ESV, italics added)

And when Peter entered Cornelius’ house at Caesarea, he saw a group of people gathered together waiting to hear the word of God. The Spirit directs us to hungry souls who need to be fed with the word. And when the people heard the word, the Spirit came down on them.

Acts 10:44-45 “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.” (ESV, italics added)

These Gentiles experienced the same outpouring of the Spirit as did the Jews in the upper room at Pentecost. The work of God advanced in a radical shift for the early church on this occasion. Peter baptized the first Gentiles community of believers. In Peter’s own words, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47)

The first Gentile church was established under the direction of the Spirit. This became a turning point in the early church as they launched out to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles.

The dynamic power of God’s Kingdom was extended to the Gentiles through Cornelius’ household church.

Barnabas and Saul – Set apart by the Spirit

Acts 13:2 While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (ESV, italics added)

The apostles were sent out by the Holy Spirit on mission trips to proclaim the word of God beyond Antioch. When we go on a mission for God, let our decisions be guided by God’s Spirit. Going on a mission without the Spirit’s guidance is just man’s work.

Acts 13:1 “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a life long friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” (ESV, italics added)

The Holy Spirit was able to move in the church of Antioch unhin­dered because the church was set up and built by prophets and teachers. Barnabas and Paul are familiar to us, but we have not heard of Simeon Niger, Lucius and Manaen. When a church is built upon the Word of God, prophets will arise to lead the Church to be in tune with the Spirit.

The church of Antioch obeyed the Spirit and did not keep their two best teachers but let them go out on missionary journeys. They fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them to send them off (v.3).

The setting apart of Barnabas and Paul marked a new beginning of God’s work advancing throughout Galatia, Asia, Macedonia, and Greece. Most of Paul’s letters were written to these regions where church communities were established in his missionary journeys.

Agabus – Foretold by the Spirit

What we need in churches are prophets who are in tune to God’s Spirit. Churches are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the cornerstone (Eph 2:20). Do we have prophets in our churches? They are needed to equip the saints for the work of ministry and for building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11, 12).

Acts 11:27-28 “Now in these days, prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world.” (ESV, italics added)

Agabus was a prophet who was in tune to the Spirit and was told ahead of time by the Spirit of a great famine. This was probably the famine that took place in the fourth year of Claudius. The famine continued for many years, of which Josephus said, “many died for want of food.”[8]

The famine was made known to Agabus so the Antioch church was able to send relief to Judea (Acts 11:29). In the same way, God will work through us in these last days during which, as Jesus had already fore­warned us, there will be “famines and pestilences” in the end times (Lk 21:11). With the Covid-19 pandemic that has been striking worldwide in the past two years, a great global famine will soon come our way in due time. Let us get ready and help each other to care for the body of Christ. With the Covid-19 pandemic, there is as yet no calamitous worldwide shortage of food; but when famine comes, the suffering that hunger brings will be much more intense.

The Spirit advances God’s Kingdom not only in sending apostles to faraway places but also in local churches by consolidating them “to love another as yourself”. Many saints in Jerusalem were poor (Rom 15:26). Even Macedonia and Achaia also contributed to the needs in Jerusalem. This further consolidated the unity of Jews and Gentiles with greater oneness in the body of Christ. This is how the Kingdom of God advances through the empowering of the Spirit.

Paul – Forbidden by the Spirit

In the book of Acts, God’s Spirit directed the apostles’ movement in all their mission endeavors. The leading of God’s Spirit was not just a matter of where to go but also where not to go on their mission trips.

Acts 16:6 “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” (ESV, italics added)

On this second missionary journey, Paul and his companions were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. Apparently, this was not the time to go there.

Acts 16:7 “And when they had come to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (ESV, italics added).

The spirit of Jesus is actually the Spirit of God working through Jesus who is the head of the Church. Jesus, the resurrected man, intercedes for us in heaven. If Jesus were God, there would be no point in the intercession. Through Jesus, the Spirit of God did not allow Paul and his companions to go to Bithynia.

Soon afterwards, Paul was given a vision of a man of Macedonia who urged him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (v.9). This open door resulted in the advancing of God’s work among the Greeks in Macedonia. The churches of Philippi and Thessalonica were built during Paul’s second missionary journey.

When we are forbidden by the Spirit to go to a region, the Spirit opens other doors for us to advance God’s work in other regions.

Paul – Constrained by the Spirit

Acts 20:22 “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there.” (ESV, italics added)

Paul was constrained by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem even if it meant suffering and imprisonment for him (21:23). But through the Spirit, the disciples at Tyre told Paul not to go to Jerusalem (21:4). And then at Caesarea, the Spirit said to Agabus that Paul will be bound in Jerusalem (21:11) if he went there. The prophecy of Agabus was true but when the disciples heard this, they urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.

When we face adversity, we easily shrink from the possibility of suffering, but Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem as the Spirit had already prepared his heart to be “ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (21:13) Paul was ready to lay down his life for the Lord.

God’s work was actually advanced further to the ends of the world with Paul’s imprisonment and later martyrdom. God’s work could not be bound physically but continued to move forward with the empower­ing of the Spirit in His people. Paul ended up in Rome under house arrest but that didn’t stop him from “proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ” (28:30-31).

God’s Kingdom advances even under persecutions and Satan’s at­tacks. When suffering comes our way, we do not need to lose heart. We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

There will be intense persecutions in the end times. Let us call on the Lord to give us the spiritual stamina to advance God’s Kingdom in these turbulent years of the end times.

The Spirit directs us like wind

Acts 2:1-2 “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” (ESV, italics added)

Call on the Lord for His Spirit to direct our movements. You can expe­rience the great movement of the Spirit like “a rushing wind”. “Wind” and “spirit” translate the same Greek word pneuma. The Spirit of God is not static but moves freely in the life of a baptized Christian. Acts gives a record of the movement of the Spirit in the lives of the apostles.

Today, as I call on Yahweh, I experience God’s Spirit like wind. “The wind (pneuma) blows where it wishes” (Jn 3:8). You hear the sound of wind but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Wind is invisi­ble yet you can feel its movement. In serving the church these years, at times I hear the mighty rushing wind blowing when God’s Spirit is at work. The wind blows where it wills. I listen and do not resist, but follow the Spirit’s direction. God’s Spirit directs our coworkers to go to different parts of the world to spread the Gospel and pioneer churches for God.

Oftentimes in my daily walk with God, I feel the gentle breeze of the Spirit leading me to care for people in their specific needs.

We need to be led by the fresh wind of the Spirit every day to do God’s will. Even in the write-up of this exposition, I ride on the wind of the Spirit and experience God’s mighty movement.

As we run the race to proclaim the Gospel to all nations in these end times, all the more, we must call on the Lord to help us discern and follow the direction, momentum, and timing of the wind of the Spirit. One of the signs of the end times is that God will raise up a prophetic people who are directed by the wind of the Spirit to make ready a people prepared for the Lord’s coming. Just important it was for John the Baptist “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk 1:17) in Jesus’ first coming, such preparation is even more crucial for Jesus’ second coming in glory. Before Jesus returns to judge the world, God’s prophets need to arise to warn and prepare the flock to triumphantly walk through the bitter journey of the end times.

The Day of the Lord

Acts 2: 19-20 “And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. (ESV; cf. Joel 2:30-31)

Peter quotes a section of Joel in his sermon at Pentecost. While it is crucial to understand the outpouring of the Spirit in relation to Joel’s prophecy, the continuing quote regarding the day of the Lord is just as significant. In Joel, the day of the Lord is the day of Yahweh. In the NT, the day is sometimes spoken specifically of as “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 1:8), “the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6), “the day of our Lord Jesus” (2Cor 1:14), “the day of Christ” (Phil 1:10; 2:16). The day of Yahweh has to do with the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The day of the Lord Jesus Christ is the day Jesus will return to earth. The Son of Man will come in a cloud with power and glory.

Luke 21:25-27 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (ESV, italics added)

Jesus says, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Lk 21:28). On that day, Yahweh will usher in the final phase of salvation. Yahweh will set up His Kingdom with Jesus as King to rule on earth.

Matthew 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the son, but the Father only.” (ESV, italics added)

Take note of the fact that only the Father knows the day and the hour of that event. Even Jesus himself does not know. If Jesus were God, he would know. Even as the exalted man, Jesus needs to submit to God’s instructions. Only Yahweh knows, for He is God.


The early church looked forward to that day that they would often say “Maranatha”.

1 Corinthians 16:22 “If anyone has no love for the Lord,[9] let him be accursed. Our Lord, come.” (ESV, italics added)

“Our Lord, come” is an Aramaic word מרנאתא, which is translated to μαράνα θά (maranatha) in Greek.

Maranatha is a watchword in the Jewish church community. “Our Lord, come”. Paul often speaks of “Jesus Christ” as “our Lord” (Rom 1:4; 5:21; 1Cor 1:9; Eph 3:11, etc.). “Maranatha” expresses our heart’s longing for our Lord Jesus to come. The early disciples longed for the return of Jesus. Do you have this longing for the coming of Jesus?

Come, Lord Jesus

The book of Revelation ends with Ἀμήν, ἔρχου κύριε Ἰησοῦ — Amen, come Lord Jesus.

Revelation 22:20 ‘He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen Come, Lord Jesus!’ (ESV, italics added)

Jesus says, “I am coming soon”. Let our response be: “Come Lord Jesus”. Amen!

We call on the name of the Lord Jesus because we long for his return to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. On that day, he will usher in the Kingdom to reign as King and be literally involved in ruling the affairs of the world. Jesus will rule the world with God’s laws and principles.

Do you long for Jesus and the arrival of the coming Kingdom?

Longing for Jesus and the Kingdom

A person who calls on the name of the Lord longs for the Kingdom of God. He calls out to God to empower him with His Spirit to live out the Kingdom life here and now. At the same time, he longs for Jesus to come to inaugurate the Kingdom on earth.

Christians today do not know how to long for the Kingdom because there seems to be a lack of teaching on the Kingdom of God in the churches.

The Kingdom of God is God’s redemptive reign. The Kingdom of God is about God the King and His reign over the people. If God does not reign in our lives today, how does He reign over us in the future? In this present age, the Church is the place where we experience the dynamic power of the Kingdom. True Christians who live a life under the Lordship of God and Jesus are people of the Kingdom. Under the empowering of the Spirit, they manifest the power of the Kingdom in their lives and in the body life. Today, the Kingdom is hidden in the world because the Kingdom of God has not yet been fully established on earth.

We need to properly understand the teaching of the Kingdom of God so that we may truly live for the Kingdom and long for the Kingdom to come.

Many Christians have made the costly mistake of believing that the Kingdom of God is a place in heaven that people go to after they die. As a result, they fantasize about going to heaven. They do well to ask them­selves if God doesn’t reign in their lives on earth, why would they want to go to heaven to live under God’s reign? It is true that God is in heaven. What is taught in the Bible is that the Kingdom of God comes to us on earth. The Kingdom is to be manifested and established on earth.

There is also the mistaken notion that the Kingdom is within a person’s heart. When asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Lk 17:20-21).

This passage is often misunderstood as though the Kingdom of God is “within” a person. The Pharisees were constantly opposing Jesus, so how could the Kingdom be within them? Neither is Jesus telling the Pharisees to look within their own hearts to find the Kingdom.

The Greek word ἐντός (entos) is a preposition that can be translated as “among”. In the context of the passage, Jesus is pointing to himself as the “son of man” standing “among” his people. He repeatedly uses the title “son of man” of himself four times in this passage (Lk 17:22, 24, 26, 30) to drive home an important message that the “son of man” standing among them is the Messiah. Jesus will be the one to establish the coming Kingdom. This is why in Luke 17:30, Jesus says “the son of man” will be revealed for all to see. There will be signs heralding the son of man like lightening flashing in the sky (Lk 17:24). When he returns to earth, the Kingdom will be seen by all.

The “son of man” is a Messianic sign of the coming Kingdom, but first, “he must suffer many things and be rejected by the generation” (Lk 17:25). The Pharisees were “looking” for the Kingdom in the wrong way. It seems that the same veil is upon Christians today.

It is astonishing for me to discover that many Christians don’t really believe in the Kingdom. They know that Jesus is returning but they don’t really believe that Jesus is going to be the King to rule the world. They long for Jesus to return, but they do not long for the Kingdom that Jesus will inaugurate at his coming. Isn’t this surprising? There is a lot of unbelief among Christians and pastors. True to Jesus’ words, “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8)

Most Christians are not keen to understand the Kingdom. They want to learn about Jesus but not about the Kingdom. Jesus often encourages his disciples to understand the Father’s heart. It is the Father’s good plea­sure to give the Kingdom to his little flock (Lk 12:32). Isn’t this exciting? The Father wants His children to inherit the Kingdom that He has prepared for us from the foundation of the world (Mt 25:34).

We cannot separate Jesus from the coming Kingdom. Jesus is the appointed King of kings in the coming Kingdom. If we love Jesus, we would also love the Kingdom he is bringing to earth. Otherwise, how will we inherit the Kingdom with Christ? Is your spiritual life motivated by inheriting the coming Kingdom on earth?

To inherit the Kingdom, we need to “enter” into the Kingdom when Christ inaugurates the Kingdom on earth. On that day, the Kingdom will no longer be in the spiritual realm, but a literal Kingdom that manifests God’s glory on earth. Jesus says to the faithful servants, “enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21, 23) and to the sheep, “inherit the Kingdom” (Mt 25:34). Only the wise virgins enter into the Messianic marriage feast but the door is shut to the foolish virgins (Mt 25:10). The extra oil is required for entry. Covid-19 is waking us up to prepare oil for the age to come. In the final salvation, there will be a door to separate those who will enter and those who will not (cf. Lk 13:24-27). When the door is closed, no one can enter. Now is the time to prepare oil to get ready. Let us not procrastinate. Take the warning that not everyone who calls Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the Kingdom but only those who do the will of the Father (Mt 7:21).

Jesus prepared his disciples to play an active role in this coming Kingdom. “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Lk 22:28-30) Let us not be slow to respond to Jesus’ words here. “Truly I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Mt 19:28)

Jesus will not reign alone in the coming Kingdom. For those who overcome, Jesus will grant him to sit with him on his throne, just as he also conquered and sat down with his Father on His throne (Rev 3:21). What a glorious day it will be for God’s children when they can partici­pate as co-heirs to rule with Jesus on earth. We need to meditate on this every day.

But how many will respond? Many are called but few are chosen. In the end, only a small remnant will respond to God’s call and co-reign with Christ in the coming Kingdom. God’s work is often accomplished by the few. Will you be among the remnant that endures to the end? If we endure, we will also reign with Christ (2Tim 2:12).

Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom

With the coming of our Lord Jesus soon, let’s finish the task of proclaim­ing the “Gospel of the Kingdom” to all nations before the end comes (Mt 24:10). It is the Gospel of the Kingdom that the nations need to receive.

The Kingdom of God is the focal point of Jesus’ message. He preaches fervently about the Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount, the 30+ para­bles, and the Olivet discourse of the end times. When Jesus came out to preach, his first message was about the Kingdom of God. The announce­ment was not just about the Kingdom but that the Kingdom was coming near on earth.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (ESV, italics added)

The Kingdom of heaven is synonymous with the Kingdom of God. Matthew prefers to use “Kingdom of heaven” rather than “Kingdom of God” because his main audience is the Jews.

The word “at hand” in Greek is ἐγγίζω (engizō), which means “to come near” (TDNT). The Kingdom of God is near but not yet here. The coming of the Kingdom is imminent but has not yet arrived. It is like the prophecy of Joel concerning the near yet future day of YHWH. God’s reign has now come near in the person of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus has brought on earth the power of the Kingdom through His life and teach­ing.

The Kingdom is almost here, therefore there is an urgent call to repent­ance to prepare people for the arrival of the Kingdom. Repentance means that people need to take a radical step of abandoning the old way of life and totally commit themselves to live solely for God and His Kingdom. Salvation is possible because of God’s atoning work through Jesus on the cross.

The prevalent “good news” in today’s churches is “to believe in Jesus and you will have eternal life”. That was the good news preached to me when I became a Christian. I responded to altar calls. I signed all the booklets that tell me to receive Jesus into my heart for the forgiveness of sins. This is how the Gospel message is introduced to most people in crusades and evangelistic meetings.

The preaching of the Kingdom of God is almost absent in today’s Gospel message. Have we rejected God’s Kingdom like how the Israelites rejected God as King (1Sam 8:7)? Does anyone preach the Gospel of the Kingdom anymore? God led me to Pastor Eric in Montreal where he preached about the Gospel of the Kingdom in his church. Finally, I heard a preacher who expounds the Gospel of the Kingdom. I began to understand the parables of Jesus and God’s Kingdom with clarity.

The Gospel of God is the Kingdom of God

Luke 4:43 “… I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” (ESV, italics added)

The Greek word euangelion for “good news” is sometimes translated as “Gospel”. What exactly is the Gospel that Jesus preaches? The Gospel that Jesus preaches is “the Kingdom of God”. The purpose of Jesus’ entire ministry is to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to us.

Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.” (ESV, italics added)

The Greek word euangelion (good news or Gospel) is repeated twice here: Gospel of God and believe in the Gospel.

The Gospel of God is the Kingdom of God. Jesus is telling the people to repent and to believe in the Gospel. What is the Gospel? The Gospel is about the Kingdom of God. Do you believe the Kingdom of God and that the Kingdom is coming to earth? Do we preach about the imminence of God’s Kingdom? Do we even think about the coming Kingdom at all?

We do well to ask ourselves whether the good news that we preach focuses on the Kingdom of God. Or have we distorted the good news?

The Kingdom of God is always on Jesus’ lips. Wherever Jesus went in his ministry, the message was always the “Gospel of the Kingdom”.

Matthew 4:23 “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” (ESV, italics added; cf. Mt 9:35; Lk 8:1)

Later, the twelve were commissioned to go out to preach the same Gospel message about the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:1-2 “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” (ESV, italics added)

The twelve disciples proclaimed the same Gospel message that Jesus preached. Again, the core message of the Gospel is: “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”.

Matthew 10:7 “And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (ESV, italics added)

In his parables, Jesus put in picture language the manifestation of God’s Kingdom in this present age as well as the eschatological Kingdom to come. We need to dive into the teaching of Jesus’ parables to absorb the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Finally, so important is the Kingdom message that in Jesus’ final forty days before his ascension, he spoke on one topic: the Kingdom of God

Acts 1:3 “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (ESV, italics added)

Can you feel Jesus’ burden in wanting his disciples to understand the Kingdom of God?

Let us call on the Lord to focus sharply on His Kingdom so that we can rightly proclaim the Gospel message.

The apostles proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom

Following Jesus’ example, the first century apostles and disciples encap­sulated the significant teaching of the Kingdom in their writings.

Acts 8:12 “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (ESV, italics added)

Philip’s preaching was focused on proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. Let us not water down the Gospel message.

Wherever Paul went on his missionary journeys, he proclaimed the same Gospel message of the Kingdom of God.

Acts 19:8 “And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.” (ESV, italics added)

When Paul was with the Ephesians, he imprinted in their hearts the Kingdom. As he said farewell to the Ephesians elders, he summarized his teaching with the proclamation of the Kingdom.

Acts 20:25 “And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.” (ESV)

Let’s follow Paul’s example to testify to the Kingdom of God to our hearers.

Acts 28:23 “From morning till evening he expounded to them, testi­fying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.” (ESV, italics added)

The book of Acts closes with the following words of Paul proclaiming the Kingdom of God in his two years of house arrest.

Acts 28:30-31 “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (ESV, italics added)

The Kingdom of God cannot be separated from Jesus and his teaching. Towards the end of Paul’s life, he continued to proclaim the Kingdom message and the teaching of Jesus.

Let’s not lose our focus in our preaching. Let’s be workers for the Kingdom of God (Col 4:11) and God’s coworkers for the Gospel of Christ (1Thes 3:2; cf. 2Cor 2:12; 10:14; Phil 1:27).

Our Task: Proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations

Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (ESV, italics added)

One of the last sign of the end times (Mt 24:3) is to proclaim “the Gospel of the Kingdom”. When all the nations are reached with the true Gospel of the Kingdom, the end will come. Let’s not water down the Gospel message. Even in Paul’s days, he warned the Galatians not to “distort the Gospel of Christ” (Gal 1:7). While it is true that Jesus died for us to forgive our sins, there’s much more to the Gospel of Christ than receiving a personal salvation. Given the centrality of the Kingdom of God in Jesus’ preaching, we need to grapple with how salvation is connected to the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel is about the Kingdom. God saves us so that we can be a part of His new creation to live for His Kingdom. We are saved to become a part of the movement of God to manifest the life of the Kingdom in this world. Sadly, to the peril of many Christians, their lives have never been transformed as they have only been changed externally to be church goers.

In this new creation, our lives are being transformed and renewed by the Spirit to live for the Kingdom. God is preparing “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1Pet 2:9). Race, priesthood, nation, people — these are communities of God’s people. There is no place for self-centered individualism. We are to become a community of people to live for the Kingdom. While it is true that God saves us individually, each individual who is redeemed must participate actively in the body life of the church. Too many Christians settle for a personal salvation and become church goers but never lovers of God and His Kingdom. Going to church does not save you if your life has not been transformed to live out the Kingdom in the body life. Some Christians lose interest going to church and quit, because going to church is a hobby for them. We need to go beyond attending church services and make it our goal to become a royal priest­hood for God. God’s original intent for the Israelites was for them to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:6). Israel’s identity as a kingdom of priests is now fulfilled in part by the Church that lives under the Lordship of God and Jesus. Christ has “made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (Rev 1:6). Again, it is repeated in Rev 5:10 that we are “a kingdom and priests to our God” and we “reign on the earth” in the coming Kingdom.

It is important that we understand the Gospel message. The Kingdom of God is the central message of the Gospel. Only the Gospel of the Kingdom will bring salvation to people. We are to seek the Kingdom as the number one priority of our lives (Mt 6:33). Jesus taught us how to become people of the Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount. As we live out the Sermon on the Mount, our lives are transformed and renewed by the Spirit to manifest the beauty of the Kingdom in the body life. The Kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power (1Cor 4:20), of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). Obey Jesus’ teaching in the parables regarding the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is like a merchant in search of fine pearls and upon finding one pearl of great value, he sells all and buys the pearl of great price (Mt 13:45-46). Jesus reveals the secrets of the Kingdom of God to his disciples (Mt 13:11). Be the good soil into which the seed is sown to yield fruit one hundred, sixty, or thirty fold in God’s Kingdom (Mt 13:8; 23). Be on guard against the tares that are sown in the Kingdom (Mt 13:24-30; 36-43).

The Kingdom that Jesus proclaims is a new way of life. As we live out Jesus’ teaching, the Kingdom becomes a present reality in the life of the Church. While the church is the seed of the Kingdom, we anticipate with exuberant joy the Kingdom that will be fully realized when God rules on earth through the Messiah Jesus. If you do not actively participate in the body life of the church today, how will you participate in the coming Kingdom? Do you even want to enter into the coming Kingdom? God is now choosing His priests to co-reign with Christ in the coming Kingdom. Let us respond to this high calling in this life.

God is raising up a remnant to call on His Name in these days to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. Jesus manifested the power and presence of the Kingdom in his life and ministry for us to follow. Before the end comes, we need to reach the nations by faithfully teaching the same Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preaches.

The faithful Church is to be a sign to all nations. In the latter days, the mountain of the house of YHWH shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and exalted above all the hills. “All nations shall flow to it” (Isa 2:2).

Micah 4:1-5 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of YHWH shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of YHWH, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in the paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of YHWH from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of YHWH of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of YHWH our God forever and ever. (ESV, YHWH restored, italics and underline added)

As we call on the name of Yahweh, we walk in the name of Yahweh. The house of Yahweh that is lifted up to the highest of the mountains is a sign which God uses so that all the nations can flock to it to learn the ways of Yahweh. We are commissioned to build the house of Yahweh in these end times. The house signifies the Church. The Church is to shine as light on the hill (Mt 5:14) rising up on the highest mountain to bring all nations to God. The Church indeed has a high calling in God’s Kingdom. God is raising up His faithful remnant to establish the Church before Jesus returns.

This passage of Micah will have its ultimate fulfillment in the coming Kingdom. Jesus the Messiah King will rule from Jerusalem to teach the law of Yahweh and he shall judge between nations such that no swords will ever again be lifted up against nations. Every man shall sit under the vine and fig tree in peace to walk in the name of Yahweh forever and ever. It will be a time of great revival of learning, refreshment, growth, and maturity for everyone in this millennial Kingdom. Does this excite you?

Your Kingdom Come

The Lord’s Prayer directs us to the Father. Hallowed be Your Name (Mt 6:9). Let God’s Name, Yahweh, consume your heart as it did to Joel and all the prophets of God. As you call on YHWH with holy reverence, pray the next sentence: May Your Kingdom come (Mt 6:10a). If the Kingdom has come, why pray this sentence in the Lord’s Prayer? Pray for the Kingdom to come. The verse is not finished yet. “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt 6:10) God’s Kingdom is going to come on earth where the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven. At Jesus’ return to earth, he will bring in the Kingdom to fulfill God’s ultimate will and purpose on earth. There will be continuity from this age to the age to come. The affairs of the world will continue when Jesus takes up the Davidic throne to reign in Jerusalem. Jesus will reign over Israel and the world with righteousness and bring all people to worship the one true God Yahweh. Jesus will fulfill all the prophecies proclaimed by the Hebrew prophets to establish justice and peace for all nations (cf. Isa 52:7-10; Zeph 3:14-20; etc).

We have an important role to play in God’s plan of salvation. God wants us to reign with Christ in the coming Kingdom. Imagine, we will have such a close interaction with Jesus and will join him in partnership to rule the world with righteousness. The reward is so huge that we will be able to reign with Christ not for one year, or ten years, or a hundred years, but for one thousand years (Rev 20:6). How exciting!

As people of the Kingdom, we long for the Kingdom to come. The Church is to arise to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to get ready a people for the imminent arrival of the Kingdom on earth. “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mk 1:15; cf. Lk 10:9, 11)


The calling on the name of the Lord in Acts 2:21 refers, first and foremost, to the calling of Yahweh (Joel 2:32). Yahweh saves. How does Yahweh save? Yahweh saves through His Messiah. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messiah that was long predicted by the OT prophets.

The sermon at Pentecost reaches its climax when Yahweh exalted the Lord Messiah to sit at His right hand, a position of honor and authority, to act on His behalf. Our Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation.

The thrust of Peter’s sermon is to let the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Jesus to be the Lord and Christ (Act 2:36). Israel is always God’s primary concern when it comes to salvation. The tide is going to be turned for all Israel to be saved.

On the day of Pentecost, the Jews and Gentiles experienced the pouring of the Spirit prophesied by Joel. In the event of the outpouring of the Spirit, the Jews and Gentiles became a community of God’s people to manifest the Kingdom life. Subsequently, more communities of churches were set up from Jerusalem to Rome.

Jesus, the exalted Lord, is given the authority to be the head of the church. Today, Yahweh rules the Church through our Lord Jesus. We submit to the Lordship of Christ by obeying all that Jesus commands (Mt 28:20). Together as a church, we pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2Tim 2:22).

Let’s call on the name of the Lord to empower us with the Spirit to fulfill the mission of the Church. The great commission is to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19) with the “Gospel of the Kingdom” (Mt 24:14). Not only do we proclaim the true Gospel of the Kingdom, but more importantly, we disciple all nations to obey all that Jesus had com­manded. Disciples are built and nurtured in the body of Christ of which Jesus is the head. It is through the body life that God pours out His Spirit onto His people with prophetic visions and dreams to finish the mission given to the Church.

The Gospel is not about our stories. We testify to the reality of the Kingdom of God in our lives to point people to the coming Kingdom when Jesus rules as King of kings. After the millennium, Jesus will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father and Jesus himself will also be subjected to God that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:24-28).

As a church, we pray to the Father for His Kingdom to come. Let’s call on the Lord and long for Jesus and His Kingdom. “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.” (Heb 10:37) Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus. Amen!

[1] The Greek New Testament, Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28th edition, has 5420 distinct Greek words with a total count of 138,150 words. Of the 5420 words, about 2000 occur only once. About 172 words occur more than 100 times, and 138 words occur between 50 to 100 times. My seminary professor in my Greek class told me that if we could memorize these 310 Greek words, we would be able to read 80% of the Greek New Testament. This gave me a lot of incentive to learn Biblical Greek.

[2] The statistics for the Greek words in the book of Acts are tabulated from Holman Christian Standard Bible, used by permission. I am using the 2009 2nd edition of HCSB whose textual source for the NT is Nestle-Aland 27.

[3] The statistics for the significant Greek words in Acts 2:14b–40 are tabulated from Holman Christian Standard Bible, used by permission. I am using the 2009 2nd edition of HCSB whose textual source for the NT is Nestle-Aland 27.

[4] Godhead is a term coined in the KJV which should be translated as “divine nature or essence”. Godhead is not supposed to be understood as a divine essence of three deities. Most modern translations (HCSB, LEB, NASV, ESV, NET, MT) do not use the term “Godhead”.

[5] The statistics for the phrase “Lord Jesus” and “Lord Jesus Christ” are tabulated from Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

[6] The statistics for πνεῦμα are tabulated from the Greek New Testament, Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th edition.

[7] “The word of Yahweh came to Abraham” (Gen 15:4); “the word of Yahweh came to Samuel” (1Sam 15:10); “the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Gad” (2Sam 24:11); “the word of Yahweh came to Solomon” (1Ki 6:11); “the word of Yahweh came to Jonah” (Jonah 1:1; 3:1); “the word of Yahweh came to Elijah” (1Ki 18:1; 21:17, 28); “the word of Yahweh came to Isaiah” (Isa 38:4); “the word of Yahweh came to Micah” (Mic 1:1); “the word of Yahweh came to Hosea” (Hos 1:1); “the word of Yahweh came to Joel” (Joel 1:1); “the word of Yahweh came to Zephaniah” (Zeph 1:1); “the word of Yahweh” came to Haggai (Hag 2:20); “the word of Yahweh” came to Zechariah (Zech 4:8; 6:9; 7:1, 4, 8; 8:1, 18). Notably, two great prophets are so anointed by the Spirit of God that time and time again, “the word of Yahweh” came to Jeremiah (Jer 14:1; 16:1; 18:5; 24:4; 29:30; 32:1, 26; 33:1, 19, 23; 34:1, 8; 34:12; 35:1, 12; 37:6; 39:15; 42:7; 43:8; 46:1; 47:1; 49:34), and repeatedly “the word of Yahweh” came to Ezekiel (Ezek 1:3; 3:16; 6:1; 7:1; 11:14; 12:1, 8, 17, 21, 26; 13:1; 14:2, 12; 15:1; 16:1; 17:1, 11; 18:1; 20:2, 45; 21:1, 8, 18; 22:1, 17, 23; 23:1; 24:1, 15, 20; 25:1; 26:1; 27:1; 28:1, 11, 20; 29:1, 17; 30:1, 20; 31:1; 32:1, 17; 33:1, 23; 34:1; 35:1; 36:16; 37:15; 38:1).

[8] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XX, 51-53.

[9] This verse in ESV, CJB, HCSB, MIT, NASB, NIV, NJB is translated from Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th edition: εἴ τις οὐ φιλεῖ τὸν κύριον — if anyone has no love for the Lord. The KJV follows the Textus Receptus Greek text εἴ τις οὐ φιλεῖ τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν χριστόν (if any man love not the Lord Jesus).



(c) 2021 Christian Disciples Church