The third New Testament example of applying an Old Testament YHWH citation to Jesus appears more than once, because it is at the core of the apostolic preaching—what NT scholars call the “kerygma.”
It appears at the very beginning of this proclamation, in Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. In explaining to the astonished crowd what is happening as the Christians are preaching the gospel in a broad range of verifiable languages that they have never learned, Peter announces that the crowd is witnessing the fulfillment of a prophecy from Joel, delivered as much as 8 centuries earlier:
this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Acts 2, citing Joel 2.28-32a).
The first several verses of this prophecy are the focus of Peter’s application, in that they describe the phenomenon that the onlookers are witnessing: unlike as in Old Testament days, when the Spirit of God was poured out on only a few choice recipients (mostly prophets and warriors), beginning this day the Spirit is being poured out on all who believe. And here in Jerusalem a visibly diverse group of believers is prophesying a single message, in all the languages represented by the gathered Jewish pilgrims at the great annual feast of Pentecost. A wonder indeed.
But the relevant point for our discussion is the closing of this prophecy. Joel twice uses the name YHWH in the last two lines. This outbreak, Joel says, will precede the arrival of “the Day of YHWH,” a major theme in OT prophecy. And then he proclaims, “Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH will be saved.”
At this point we really haven’t demonstrated our thesis; the Jehovah’s Witness can say, “Peter is simply telling these people to call on God, Jehovah—who is not the same person as Jesus—in order to be saved.”
But the passage isn’t completed yet.
Peter goes on to cite another OT prophecy, a passage from Psalm 16 predicting the resurrection, not of the Psalmist, but of the Christ (Ac 2.22-31). He then comes to his surprising conclusion—that this Jesus, who died condemned as a criminal, has been resurrected by God himself, and further is now exalted in the honored presence of God, from which position he has performed this visible wonder (Ac 2.32).
The crowd responds, “What shall we do?” (Ac 2.37). Peter replies, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ” (Ac 2.38). In whose name? The name of Jesus, the Messiah. How does one “call upon the name of YHWH”? by calling on the name of Jesus.
Lest there be any doubt, Paul adds a second apostolic voice affirming the significance of Joel’s prophecy. In his theological magnum opus, the epistle to the Romans, he writes,
if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Ro 10.9).
And then he says,
the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Ro 10.12b-13).
There’s Joel’s prophecy again, making “calling upon the name of YHWH” the condition for salvation—immediately after Paul has assured his readers that salvation comes when “you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.”
Not one, but two apostles, authoritatively citing the same YHWH passage and equating YHWH himself with the Son.
Part 5: “He Ascended up on High” | Part 6: Excursus: Descent into Hell | Part 7: “The LORD Will Come in Fire” | Part 8: “Let All the Angels of God Worship Him” | Part 9: “Your Years Shall Not Fail” | Part 10: Other Possibilities