Book Review: The Hope of Israel: The Resurrection of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles by Dr. Brandon D. Crowe

by Keifer Navey

I don’t feel as if I’m going out on a limb by saying we simply do not talk about the resurrection of Jesus Christ enough.

Visit the shelves of Christian bookstores (if you can find one) and you’ll come across book after book with an emphasis on the Cross or the Gospel in its name or subtitle. “Christ-Centered” this or “Gospel-Driven” that. Truly, there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’m grateful for this new golden age of Christian literature we find ourselves in. But when was the last time you read an entire book on the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

The Hope of Israel: The Resurrection of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles

The Hope of Israel highlights the sustained focus in Acts on the resurrection of Christ, bringing clarity to the theology of Acts and its purpose. Brandon Crowe explores the historical, theological, and canonical implications of Jesus’s resurrection in early Christianity and helps readers more clearly understand the purpose of Acts in the context of the New Testament canon. He also shows how the resurrection is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. This is the first major book-length study on the theological significance of Jesus’s resurrection in Acts.

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Dr. Crowe offers an in-depth look into the famous speeches from the book of Acts and how they all hinge upon the resurrection of Christ. The first dealing with Petrine speeches and followed by the longest excursion into Paul’s sermons and defenses. He takes time to explore other portions such as James and the Jerusalem council and Stephen’s speech, but the thrust of the book can be found in the first two chapters. That thrust being: the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the crux of Peter and Paul’s speeches, and as the author of Acts Luke intentionally and meticulously highlights this lynchpin.

Key Points of the Book

  1. The Resurrection is Central to Acts as a whole: Crowe writes that “Luke presents the resurrection of Christ as a singular turning point in the accomplishment of salvation that ushers in the age of the exalted Messiah.” Our perceiving of Luke’s emphasis on the resurrection gives us key insight and a clearer picture of the purpose and point of the book of Acts itself.
  1. The Resurrection is Central to Peter’s Speeches: In the final paragraph of Peter’s Chapter, Dr. Crowe concludes that “he makes much of Jesus’s resurrection. Jesus’s victory over death fulfills Scripture and explains the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As the message of Jesus takes hold in Jerusalem, the apostles emphasize the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. From His sermons to his speeches following miraculous healings, Peter cannot help but point to the resurrection of Christ Jesus. 
  1. The Resurrection is Central to Paul’s Speeches: The chapter on the prominence of the resurrection in Paul’s life was the longest and most interesting in the book. Not only because it highlighted his sermons and defenses, but examined the impact of the resurrected Christ meeting Paul on the Damascus road, and most memorably draws a parallel between the the death and life of Jesus and Paul himself, pointing to narrative cues such as Paul being stoned to death and brought back to life.

Powerful Quotes From the Book

  • “To pose historical questions is therefore at the same time to pose theological questions; ultimately the two cannot be separated” (p.7).
  • “It is highly significant that the content of the preaching often focuses on the kingdom and on the living, resurrected Christ as Lord. The kingdom message of Acts is built upon the conviction that Christ is the living Lord” (p.17).
  • “The promise to Abraham of a land and a people that would bless all the nations of the earth (Gen 12:1-3) is sluiced through the channel of the Davidic kingdom and flowers in the resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate Davidic King” (p.55).
  • “Lord is thus the most fitting term to communicate the exalted work of Christ in the context of historia salutis. Because Jesus has conquered death and accomplished salvation, his experience of lordship shifts after the resurrection. Moreover, this new experience of glorified lordship not only affects Jesus as Mediator but marks several epochal shifts in salvation history” (p.114).
  • “As Lord, Jesus is the exalted, heavenly king who has conquered death. As Christ, Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and reigns over the promised kingdom of David, which will have no end. These two key terms for Peter – Lord and Christ- build on the foundational assumption of the resurrection. ‘This Jesus,’ as the one who fulfills Psalms 16 and 110 (among others), is a king superior to all others” (p.28).

Application in the Local Church

Pastors, we need to preach on the resurrection more, plain and simple. We can’t continue to reserve the resurrection for Easter Sunday. We need to dig into the Scriptures and read more literature that points us to the resurrection of our living Lord Jesus. This book is an excellent first step forward to preaching and teaching about the resurrection more. The doctrines we believe are doctrines we display. We need to be reminded of the resurrection and live like Jesus Christ is alive because He is! We need to preach like Peter and Paul pointing people not just to the death of Christ, but to His glorious resurrection.

Citation: The Hope of Israel: The Resurrection of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles by Dr. Brandon D. Crowe. Baker Academic, 2020. 239 pages.

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Keifer is the Founder and book reviewer for Nerdy Theologians—a digital resource dedicated to recommending the most edifying theological literature. He is also a husband, father, preacher, and elder mentee at his local church. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

More by Keifer

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