26“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. 28Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead; 31and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. 32And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors 33he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’ 34As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy promises made to David.’ 35Therefore he has also said in another psalm, ‘You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.’ 36For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption; 37but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. 38Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; 39by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you: 41‘Look, you scoffers! Be amazed and perish, for in your days I am doing a work, a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.’”
Paul continues his sermon – several times through the book of Acts, Luke includes a sermon, first from Peter at the time of the Pentecost, and then Stephen, at his stoning, and also a number of times, from Paul. We should not read these sermons from a 21st century viewpoint, assuming that someone has actually recorded them word for word. Luke has heard about these sermons, perhaps was even present for some, and he would naturally include what he has heard or witnessed; but remember as well, Luke has something to say, and he uses the characters he is writing about, within their frame of reference, to say it. We often tend to simply skip over the sermons, to get back to the story – but the sermon is where you will find the theology in Luke.
In this sermon, we see that Paul is teaching among the Jews and “God-Fearers” in Pisidian Antioch, and he assumes that they know the history of Israel he has just summarized, and the words of the prophets. Paul is not teaching a new religion – what he is teaching is firmly rooted in the history of Israel and the words of the prophets. He says to his listeners that it was a poor understanding of the prophets that led the religious leaders in Jerusalem to crucify Jesus. But in so doing, they themselves were fulfilling the prophets.
And then he comes to the great climax – the center of Paul’s belief, and Luke’s – God raised Jesus from the dead! There were many reliable witnesses to that fact! And this is the good news Paul is bringing to them – that Jesus Christ fulfilled the promise of the scriptures made by God to their ancestors.
He speaks of Jesus as a descendant of David, who fulfilled what God had promised David, in the Psalms; for while the Psalm said David would never die, yet he died and was buried. But that Psalm was really written about his descendent, Jesus. And so, Jesus is both Messiah and Savior – descendent of David, and Son of God. Those who believe and follow Jesus are set free from their sins, something the law of Moses could not do. Again, he quotes the prophets – God is doing a new work in their midst.