In Peter’s words to them, the resurrection was just as much a fact of history as the crucifixion—a fact with immediate and powerful results. And the reason Peter gave for the resurrection is simply this: it wasn’t possible that Jesus could be held by death.

The world today says, “It’s impossible for Jesus to rise from the dead.” But Peter said, “It’s impossible for Jesus not to rise from the dead.”

How could Peter make such a statement? His argument is based not upon the kind of factual evidence we would think of, but upon two other points.

First, Peter bases it on the nature of biblical prophecy. In stating that it was impossible for death to hold Jesus, Peter noted that David spoke “concerning Him” (Acts 2:25). Christ’s resurrection had already been prophesied. And once God speaks, it is done. Jesus must rise again because God’s Word is always true; He cannot be wrong. Once the prophetic word is given, God’s nature is such that He cannot fail to fulfill it.

Peter quotes Psalms 16 and says that David was speaking of Christ when he said, “You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27).

Peter was whispering into the souls of the Jews standing before him, for Jews knew that once God spoke through a prophet, it was as good as done.

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Of course, Christ’s resurrection was foretold not only by Old Testament prophets, but by the Lord Himself, as we’ve already seen: “Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Matthew 16:21). Divine prophecy is a guarantee that death couldn’t hold Jesus in the grave.

There’s also another reason Peter could present the resurrection as fact. Peter was referring to the very meaning of life itself. He bases this argument on the nature of Christ.

Because of who Christ is, it’s impossible that death could hold Him in the grave. Peter was convinced that life was the nature of Jesus. Peter would later speak of Jesus as “the Holy One and the Just” and “the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15). Jesus is that Prince of life, and without Him, there is no life—not for anyone. It was impossible for Jesus to remain in death because He is life itself. He must burst forth from the grave or deny His very nature as the Prince of life.

Peter’s understanding of Christ’s nature is in keeping with what the other disciples had come to know. The apostle John, for example, opened his gospel by stating, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

Jesus Himself made this teaching very clear. He said to Mary and Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (11:25).

And He said to His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (14:6).

Jesus said more about His “life” nature in these words:

For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth.” (5:26–29)