Views on Peter’s Use of Psalm 16:8–11 in Acts 2:25–32 -- By: Gregory V. Trull

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 161:642 (Apr 2004)
Article: Views on Peter’s Use of Psalm 16:8–11 in Acts 2:25–32
Author: Gregory V. Trull


Views on Peter’s Use of
Psalm 16:8–11 in Acts 2:25–32a

Gregory V. Trull

Gregory V. Trull is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Western Baptist College, Salem, Oregon, and Senior Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Perrydale, Oregon.

The use of Psalm 16 in Acts 2 has been a center of controversy and confusion for centuries. The use of this psalm involves questions of beliefs in the Old Testament about the afterlife, the historical development of messianic awareness, the accuracy of the Septuagintal translation, apostolic hermeneutics, and other key biblical issues. Many schools of thought have attempted to explain how Peter interpreted and employed Psalm 16 in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost.

This article traces the history of its interpretation and analyzes seven modern views.1 The goal is to examine the major lines of support for these positions and to raise key interpretive issues that will be addressed in the subsequent two articles in this three-part

series. The next two articles will consider the original context of Psalm 16 and then its place in the Pentecost sermon of Acts 2.

Caird’s paradigm of sense and referent provides a helpful framework for distinguishing among the major views. According to Caird, “sense” is “what is being said,” while “referent” is “what is being spoken of.”2 Most scholars agree that the New Testament interprets Psalm 16 as having the sense of Messiah’s resurrection and the referent of Jesus. Significant distinctions surface, though, in scholars’ views of the original sense and referent of Psalm 16 and in the proposed connection between the original meaning and the New Testament interpretation.

Ancient Views3

Views of key figures throughout the first nineteen centuries of church history set an important background for the modern views of Peter’s interpretation of Psalm 16. The early church fathers consistently held that Psalm 16 was messianic. Their arguments were built on the New Testament statements concerning the psalm in ...

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