Acts 2.24


1.   Please turn in your Bible to Acts 2.24.  As you are making your way to that verse I will establish the setting in which this verse is found.

2.   The day of Pentecost is the second of the three great Jewish national festivals, and is observed on the 50th day, or 7 weeks, after the Passover Feast.  In the Old Testament it is called “the feast of weeks.”

3.   The requirements of the three great Jewish festivals were well understood in Jesus’ day, and their authority was founded in the Mosaic Law and unquestioned by the people.  The Pentecost festival and its rituals were minutely described in the Law.

4.   Every male in Israel was on that day required to appear before the Lord at the Temple .  The day was observed as a Sabbath day, all labor was suspended, and the people appeared before the LORD to express their gratitude.

5.   The central feature of the day was the presentation of two loaves of leavened, salted bread to the LORD, with additional sacrifices required.  It was supposed to be a festival of good cheer, a day of joy.  Freewill offerings were to be made to the LORD, marked by a liberal spirit toward Levites, toward strangers, and orphans and widows.

6.   Contemporary Jewish practice is now to commemorate the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai during this celebration, but the Old Testament does not give Pentecost that kind of historical significance.  It appears as though the well known Jewish rabbi Maimonides introduced this new feature, which is wholly foreign to the scope of the celebration as it was practiced here in Acts chapter 2.

7.   Imagine, then, thousands of Jewish men streaming out of the Temple courtyard following the Pentecost ritual when, “suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.”  I take this to be one of the houses surrounding the Temple courtyard, in the

      immediate vicinity of multiplied thousands of observant Jewish men, come to Jerusalem to express their gratitude to God, with that dreadful crucifixion only seven weeks ago still in the back of their minds.

8.   But this frightful noise, that seemed to attract everyone’s attention to a group of men sitting off to the side, and then the cloven tongues as of fire that sat on them.  What must the multitudes of Jewish men have thought?  But before they could make up their minds what they thought the small group of individuals stood and began to speak in foreign languages, which served to attract yet an even larger crowd of onlookers.

9.   “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia , and in Judaea , and Cappadocia , in Pontus , and Asia , Phrygia , and Pamphylia, in Egypt , and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene , and strangers of Rome , Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”

10. Of course, some mocked, as some always do.  “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice,” and began to preach the sermon that God would use to ignite the fires of revival that would eventually spread the Gospel message throughout the known world, and over much of the world not at that time known.

11. And what, pray tell, did Simon Peter preach to those thousands of “thankful” Jewish worshipers?  Though we can be quite sure Peter’s entire sermon is not recorded here in Acts chapter 2, enough of it is preserved that we have the essence and the meat of what he preached on that day so long ago.  So, though my text for this evening is Acts 2.24, let me quickly review what is found in verses 14-36.

12. There is Joel’s prophecy concerning the day of the LORD.  There is the deliverance of Jesus by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.  There is the accusation to those men that Jesus was taken by them and slain by wicked hands, pointing to the complicity in His crucifixion of both the Jews and the Romans.  There is the fact that Christ was raised up by God until He made Christ’s enemies His footstool, a warning if there ever was one.  And then there is the declaration by Peter that God has made this crucified One both the Lord and Christ over the house of Israel .

13. Each of these topics was, no doubt, troubling to the consciences of those who had gathered for the Pentecostal feast.  No wonder they were pricked in their heart by the truth and asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

14. But let us focus our collective attention on verse 24:  “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”  Pointing out that God raised up Jesus just as surely as God delivered Him to be crucified, and that the pains of death were thereby loosed, the particular phrase that captures my interest is this one:  “because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”

15. Think of it!  Jesus was raised from the dead, made physically alive again after being physically dead for three days, because it was not possible that He should be held by death!  But why was it not possible?



1B.    How can anything contain and restrain the omnipotent God?  Remember, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”  John 1.1-3.

2B.    Also remember, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him, And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”  Colossians 1.16-17.  As well, “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”  Colossians 2.9.

3B.    Jesus is the One Who threw the stars into the midnight sky.  How could death hold a grip on One So powerful as Him?



1B.    In Psalm 2.6 we read that God has set His King on His holy hill Zion .  But the King is none

         other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the king of the Jews!  And He is not yet set on God’s holy hill of Zion, in fulfillment of that prophecy.  That remains to be done.  Therefore, because of His position it was not possible that death should hold Him.

2B.    You see, nothing can defeat or thwart the plan and purpose of almighty God.  “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory?  The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory?  The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.  Selah.”  Psalm 24.7-10.

3B.    It is Christ’s position, determined in the council chambers of heaven before the beginning of time, to reign and to rule.  And that cannot happen if death maintains a hold on Him.  Therefore, it is not possible that death should hold Him, because Christ will sit on the throne of His father David in the millennial kingdom and reign in regal majesty.



1B.    Colossians 1.18 declares that He “is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”  But how can He be preeminent, thereby fulfilling the will of God The Father, if He is not the firstborn from the dead?

2B.    I tell you, on the authority of God’s holy and innerrant Word, that not only must Jesus be  risen from the dead because of His preeminence, but I also declare unto you that for the very same reason many must follow Him in the resurrection.

3B.    It is unreasonable that Jesus not have the preeminence the Father wants for Him.  It is unimaginable that Jesus not have the preeminence the Father wants for Him.  And it ts unconscionable that Jesus not have the preeminence the Father wants for Him.  Therefore, He not only will have the preeminence, He presently does have the preeminence.



1B.    Did not Jesus tell His disciples “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  John 14.1-3?

2B.    Yet, Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life,” the exclusive avenue by which the Father is approached by sinners, John 14.6.  Therefore, how can He lie?  How can He not tell the truth?  And is He not God, the Son?  Yet Titus 1.2 declares, “God, that cannot lie . . . .”

3B.    It was not possible for death to hold Jesus because of His power (He is omnipotent), because of His position (He as king must rule and reign), because of His preeminence (how can one be preeminent who remains dead?), and because of His promise (He said He would come again, and He will).



1B.    My friends, God is on the throne.  Amen?  We worship a God Who is sovereign over all.  Amen?  Therefore, we take great comfort in such pronouncements as is found in Ephesians 1.11, where it is declared that God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”  In other words, God does what He has decided He will  do.  And things happen as they are determined in the council chambers in heaven.

2B.    That being so, listen to what Psalm 16.10 reveals to us about the counsel of God’s Own will:  “for thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption.”  And then there is David’s prophetic pronouncement in Psalm 110.1:  “the LORD said unto my lord, sit thou at my right hand, until i make thine enemies thy footstool.”

3B.    So, prophetic utterances, given 1000 years before the event, predicted that the Lord Jesus Christ

         would be raised from the dead, so that the body of God’s Son would not see corruption, and so that God’s Son could ascend into heaven to sit at His right hand.  Both reasons making it impossible for God’s Word to be true unless Jesus was raised from the dead.

4B.    So, we have 5 wonderful reasons why it was not possible for death to maintain a grip on Jesus, 5 glorious explanations why He must needs rise up, victorious over sin, death, Hell and the grave.  And good reasons they are.  Amen?  But there is one final reason why Jesus had to rise up.  One final reason why He could not remain in the grave.



1B.    Why could not Jesus remain dead?  Because He is the one who blew into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, whereby he became a living soul.  He was the ark that bore up Noah and his family on the flood waters and who bore the infant Moses on the waters of the Nile .  He can’t stay dead who has such power to give and to preserve life.

2B.    My Lord Jesus, Who walked with Adam in the cool of the evening in the garden of Eden, Who wrestled with Jacob at Peniel and named him Israel , Who stood with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, and Who stood before a terrified Joshua as captain of the LORD’s host.  This One cannot remain dead.  His body cannot experience corruption.  He’s the author of life!

3B.    How fitting is it for One who is best described as the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star, the fairest of ten thousand to my soul, to stay in the tomb?  How can His banner over me be love, when He is dead?  How can He bid me to rise up my love and come away, if He had not risen up Himself?

4B.    How can He be the chiefest among ten thousand?  How can His cheeks be as beds of spices and His legs be as pillars of marble, if His flesh is rotted and decayed?  How can I be my Beloved’s and how can His desire be toward me, if He is not risen from the dead in power and great glory?

5B.    No, it is not possible for my Savior to be holden by death.  You see, nothing makes sense if my Savior is not at His Father’s right hand.  If He be not risen we are of all men most miserable.  If He is not reigning on high then He cannot come again, conquering and to conquer, as He promised.

6B.    And if He is not risen from the dead He is not who He is.  Therefore, truly did Peter declare, properly did He pronounce on that Pentecost so very long ago, that God hath raised Him up, “having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”



1.   Rejoice, Christian, your Savior and husband is coming again for you.

2.   Repent, sinner, because when the Savior Who is risen comes for us it will be a prelude to His return seven years later to come with us.

3.   And when He comes with us it will not be to save, but to judge.  And do you think that He, Who cannot be held by death, will be kept from judging sinners most severely?

4.   May God bless you.

 Home   Who Is God?   God's Word   Sermons   Tracts   Q & A   Feedback  

Order this sermon on tape:   or Mail/Phone