Acts 2:1-21

The promised comforter, the Holy Spirit, arrives at Pentecost

Preparation: As we begin to study this chapter it may be useful to review two other pages,. HOLY SPIRIT and JEWISH FEASTS.

1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

[When the day of Pentecost was fully come] Pentecost is an early summer holiday, also known as the feast of weeks because it was set at seven weeks plus one day after the feast of firstfruits (waving of the symbolic "first sheaf" of barley before the Lord). Leviticus 23:15-16. Pentecost was one of three annual holidays designated by God through Moses as a mandatory feast in which all Jewish males must appear before the Lord with sacrifice. Deuteronomy 16:16-17. Therefore Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims from all over the world. What better time to initiate the next phase in God's plan of salvation? First phase: Jesus came to earth to perform his sacrificial ministry. Second phase: The church, under the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, testifies to the world about what Jesus Christ has done. At the close of Pentecost the pilgrims will return home carrying news of the miraculous events which they observed in Jerusalem. The birth of Jesus occurred at a similarly propitious time. Bethlehem was overflowing with visitors from all over Israel as a result of a census for taxation. Luke 2:1-6, Galatians 4:4-6.

[They were all of one accord in one place] We presume that the "all" were the same one hundred twenty referred to in chapter one Their attitude is described in Luke 24:51-53. Luke does not specify where they were assembled except that it was an indoor location (v2). It may have been the same upper room or, as some have suggested, it may have been in a private room in the temple. It was at the third hour of the day (9am), the time of morning prayers.

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

[A sound from heaven] As we study miracles in the Bible we see that there were long periods when few miracles occurred, then, at turning points in God's dealing with mankind, clusters of miracles occurred, certifying that the events of the time were of God. The exodus from Egypt was preceeded by and immediately followed by miracles. Examples: The burning bush, the plagues, opening the Red sea, water from the rock, manna. The book of Daniel records miracles which impressed the kings of Babylonia and their successors, eventually resulting in the release of the children of Israel from that oppression. Jesus performed miracles to certify that he was indeed the Son of God, Messiah. Now, the arrival of the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of believers is accompanied by miracles.
Deuteronomy 11:3, Daniel 2:28, Daniel 3:23-25, Daniel 6:16, John 2:11.

[A sound ...of a rushing mighty wind] The arrival of the Holy Spirit. A spirit is not necessarily obvious to the naked eye so an appropriate sound announced his arrival. The sound was not accompanied by an actual wind because the group was indoors and there is no mention of things being blown about. The sound caught the attention of those gathered there and probably of those who happened to be nearby.

3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

[Cloven tongues of fire.] Miracle number two. A visual representation of the Holy Spirit sat on EACH of them. This certified that not just a select few but ALL believers receive the ministering presence of the Holy Spirit. It is interesting to notice that the fire was similar to the shape of the body part which is most involved in carrying out the task which the Holy Spirit encourages -- the tongue which testifies of Jesus. Imagine the astonishment of onlookers who had peeked in the door.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

[Filled with the Holy Ghost] Previously the pattern was that God would send the Holy Spirit to rest temporarily UPON a person, thus enabling him or her to do a special work. Now, as promised by Jesus, the Comforter would dwell permanently within the believers.
Judges 3:10, John 14:16-17, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:19.

[Speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.] Miracle three. Other languages. Under the Holy Spirit's empowerment they immediately set about testifying for Jesus. The "other tongues" were other human languages because many who happened to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost were from foreign lands. The Aramaic and common Greek languages in general use in Jerusalem were foreign to some of those pilgrims. In the interest of accuracy it was important that each hear the Gospel in his own language.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

[How hear we every man in his own tongue?] News of the event travelled fast and soon a large crowd gathered. Most amazing, the onlookers were hearing the Gospel in their own language even though the speakers were unlikely to have been trained in foreign languages. The Holy Spirit was giving them utterance, both in content and delivery.

13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

[Others mocking] Not all recipients of the Gospel respond. There are always some who are so tightly bound to Satan that, even when confronted by the clear and reasonable logic of the Gospel, they prefer to invent and believe unreasonable explanations. Romans 1:28.

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

[Peter...lifted up his voice] One might imagine that hearers gathered in groups around the speakers who were testifying in their language. Peter stood up and addressed the largest group, the locals.

15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

[For these are not drunken] While it was common among the Jews to start the day off with some form of wine (sweetened with honey or otherwise adjusted for breakfast), it was also a cultural prohibition to consume it before the morning prayer.

16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon 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 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

[That which was spoken of by the prophet Joel] The first one and one-half chapters of Joel describe the oppressed condition of Israel from the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. See Joel chapter one. Joel 2:18-27 describes the restoration of Israel to a period of relative plenty. Peter, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, points to Joel 2:28-32 as describing the beginning of a new era in history. The Holy Spirit will be persuading ":all flesh", both Jew and Gentile, to commit to Jesus Christ and be born again. The remaining verses sound similar to Revelation 6:12 regarding the tribulation which preceeds the millennial kingdom.


This page updated 10/28/2007

Copyright (C) 2007 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved