Jesus did not remain dead. The gospel hangs on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Peter connected the resurrection and ascension of Jesus with his enthronement on the Davidic throne (Acts 2:29-36). In Acts 2:30-32 Peter said that David prophesied the resurrection in Psalm 16 because he knew God’s oath to place a Davidic descendant on the Davidic throne (Ps. 132:11)—thus connecting the resurrection and the ascension to the throne. Peter also connected the resurrection to the enthronement of the Davidic Messiah predicted in Psalm 110. The connections between Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 indicate that Peter has in view the Davidic enthronement and not some other enthronement.
Peter concludes on the basis of these passages that at the resurrection/ascension God “made [this Jesus] both Lord and Christ” (2:36). In what way was Jesus made Lord and Christ? “Lord” probably refers back to Peter’s quotation of Psalm 110:1. He was made Lord at the enthronement. He was also made Christ or Messiah. In the context, this indicates that Jesus was enthroned as Messiah.
Paul likewise testified that Jesus was the Davidic king, enthroned through his resurrection (Acts 13:22-23, 32-39). Paul’s argument was similar to Peter’s, but he appealed to Psalm 2:7 rather than to Psalm 110:1 for his enthronement text. Paul said the declaration, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” was fulfilled in the resurrection (Acts 13:33). In the context of Psalm 2, this is the declaration of enthronement. Some object that since Psalm 2 teaches the Messianic king will be enthroned on Zion, Jesus cannot be reigning as the Davidic king from heaven. This ignores that prophecies are often fulfilled in stages. Jesus will one day rule from Zion as the Davidic king, but his enthronement has commenced from heaven.
On the basis of Jesus’ enthronement as the Davidic king, the apostles and elders determined that the Gentiles could participate in the church without the rituals required of Jewish proselytizes (Acts 15:14-19). As the apostles and elders wrestled over the relation between Jews and Gentiles in the church, Amos 9:12, with its promise of parity between Israel and the nations, provided insight in how to proceed. Niehaus notes that “the implication of the present statement is that the nations will not simply come under Israelite hegemony (as before), but that they will actually become one with God’s people” (492).
The timing of this promise is significant. The apostles were not at liberty to decide that since one day God will treat Jews and Gentiles equally, they may do so at any time. James was careful to quote the time frame for this promise. This promise is connected to the reestablishment of the Davidic dynasty.
The preaching of the early church also declared Jesus to be the fulfillment of the prophetic and priestly offices. Peter taught explicitly that Jesus was the Prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22), and Stephen’s martyr sermon climaxed by implying that Jesus was the messianic Prophet (Acts 7:52-53).
Philip declared to the Ethiopian eunuch that Jesus was guilt offering for sin (Acts 8:32-35). Thus the preaching of the early church as recorded in Acts affirms that Jesus is the King, Prophet, and Priest that Israel had been expecting.
Bock, Darrell L. “Covenants in Progressive Dispensationalism.” In Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism. Edited by Herbert W. Bateman IV. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999. See especially 159f., 199f.
Gibson, Aaron J. “Until His Enemies become His Footstool: A Biblical Theology of the Davidic Covenant in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts.” Ph.D. diss., Bob Jones University, 2003. See chapter 7 of this dissertation for detailed argumentation in favor of the position outlined above.
Niehaus, Jeff. “Amos.” The Minor Prophets. Volume 1. Edited by Thomas McComiskey. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.