An unprecedented miracle happened as the disciples gathered with one accord in one place. For the first time in history, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon believers, fulfilling Joel’s prophesies and Jesus’ promise. The Pentecostal experience would become the benchmark for the apostles and for the church today to determine if an individual has received the Holy Spirit.
Did You Know...?
1. The Day of Pentecost (2:1) was also known as “the Feast of Weeks,” “First Fruits of the Wheat Harvest,” (Ex 23:16; 34:22) and “the Day of the First Fruits” (Num 28:26). It was 50 days after the Passover. It was a celebration in which the Israelites offer their first fruits to God as a thanksgiving and expect God to bless the rest of the harvest period (Lev 23:15-19; Num 28:26-29).
2. Parthians (2:9): People of north-west Persia (Iran) who lived in the general region southeast of the Caspian sea.
3. Medes (2:9): People from Media, from Madai, Japeth’s son (Gen 10:2)
4. Elamites (2:9): People from Elymais, the region on the east bank of the Tigris.
5. Mesopotamia (2:9), meaning “the country between two rivers,” is bounded northeast by the Tigris, and southwest by the Euphrates.
6. Capadocia (2:9) is the most eastern province of Asia Minor.
7. Pontus (2:9) was a large district in northern Asia Minor, extending along the coast of the Pontus Euxinus Sea. It roughly corresponds to the modern Trebizond. [ref]
8. Asia (2:9) refers neither to Asia Minor nor the continent but the region west of Asia Minor, with Ephesus as the capital, where the seven churches were located in Revelations.
9. Phrygia (2:10) is the western part of central Asia Minor.
10. Pamphylia (2:10) is the southern province of Asia Minor
11. Libya (2:10) was also called the country of the Ludim (Gen 10:13). It is a large tract in Northern Africa along the Mediterranean and to the west of Egypt. Cyrene was one of its five cities. [ref]
12. Cyrene (2:10) is the chief city of Cyrenaica in North Africa
13. Arabs (2:11) dwelt in the desert lands south and east of Palestine, all called generally Arabia.
14. Cretans (2:11) are the inhabitants of Crete, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean.
15. The third hour of the day (2:15): 9 a.m
- The Pouring Forth of the Holy Spirit (2:1-4)
- The Multitude’s Responses (2:5-13)
- Peter’s Message: Joel’s Prophecy (2:14-21)
Why is the Pentecostal experience crucial to the development of Acts?Hide Answer
The Lord Jesus had promised the disciples that they, as well as all who believe in Him, would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. This promise first came true on the day of Pentecost, and was fulfilled again and again on those who subsequently believed. Therefore, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit as recorded in this passage signals a new phase in God’s redemptive history and the beginning of the NT church.
Furthermore, throughout Acts, the Holy Spirit plays a prominent role in the church’s missionary efforts. Thus, the Pentecostal experience marks the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s powerful presence and guidance, which ultimately enabled the apostles to fulfill the divine commission.
What special purpose do you think God had for choosing to pour out the Holy Spirit during the feast of the Jews?Hide Answer
Devout Jews from “every nation under heaven” had returned to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast (5). God arranged this perfect opportunity for them to witness the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, about 3,000 souls were saved through this occasion (41). Moreover, these Jews must have also brought the gospel message with them when they returned home, thereby further spreading the name of Christ.
“They were all with one accord in one place” (1). Why do you think Luke records this?Hide Answer
Their being together with one accord indicates that they all obeyed the word of the Lord Jesus and trusted in His promise with one mind and heart. They were all prepared as they waited to receive the promised Holy Spirit.
What sudden phenomenon began the whole series of events?Hide Answer
There came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting (2).
What possible significance is there to this phenomenon?Hide Answer
In both Hebrew and Greek, “spirit” can be also translated as “breath” or “wind.” In Ezekiel 37:9-14, the breath that revived the dry bones prefigures the Spirit of God, who will give His people life. In John 3:5-8, the Lord Jesus compares being born of the Spirit to the blowing of the wind. Likewise, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost is accompanied by a great sound, as of a rushing mighty wind. This outward sign represents the transforming and life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.
What sat on each of the disciples when they received the Holy Spirit?Hide Answer
Divided tongues, as of fire (3).
In the Scripture, fire is associated with God’s presence (e.g. the burning bush in Exodus 3:2-5 and the pillar of fire in Exodus 40:38).
In Acts 2, however, it was not tongues of fire, but tongues that resembled fire, that sat on the disciples. The focus was on the “tongues,” which were probably visible manifestations of the utterance that the Holy Spirit gave to each of the disciples. Their resemblance to fire may represent their divine origin as well as the divine presence among the disciples.
What was the evidence that they had received the Holy Spirit?Hide Answer
They began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (4).
What happened when the people in Jerusalem heard the sound of the Holy Spirit?Hide Answer
They came together (6).
What were the reaction of the devout Jews, and why?Hide Answer
They were amazed, marveled, and perplexed (7,12). They had such reactions because they, who had come from 15 different parts of the world, heard the disciples, who were Galileans, declaring the wonderful works of God in their respective languages. They were also perplexed because they could not comprehend the meaning of this great miracle.
How did the rest of the multitude respond to the event?Hide Answer
They mocked them and said, “They are full of new wine” (13).
Were the disciples speaking 15 earthly languages, or were they speaking in an unintelligible tongue? How do you know?Hide Answer
The fact that these devout Jews understood the disciples in their own languages seems to indicate that the disciples were actually speaking 15 different languages. That is why many Bible commentators believe that the tongues that the disciples spoke are different from the unintelligible tongues that Paul mentioned in 1Cor 14:2. But a more careful examination tells us that the disciples were not speaking languages of earthly nations. These are the reasons:
1. If the disciples were speaking intelligible languages, no one would have mocked them and commented that they were full of new wine. Anyone, even if he was not devout, would have been amazed that these Galileans were able to speak languages that they had never learned. The fact that some mocked the disciples and attributed the phenomenon to drunkenness suggests that the disciples were speaking in a strange and unknown tongue, not foreign languages.
2. Luke does not record that the disciples spoke 15 different languages. It was the devout Jews who said, “we hear them speaking in our own tongues” (italics added). The disciples were not speaking these languages. It was God who had miraculously opened the ears of these devout Jews to let them hear the disciples speaking in their respective languages. If all the disciples, about 120 of them, were speaking 15 languages at the same time, the various languages would have been indistinguishable, and it would have been impossible for these devout Jews to understand what the disciples were saying.
3. Paul writes, “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1Cor 14:2). This lends strong support for interpreting the tongues in Acts 2 as an unknown tongue.
4. Based on the experience of members and seekers in the True Jesus Church, we know that when the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, he is given the ability to speak in an unknown tongue. Unless God opens the ears of the listener, no one can understand him. The miracle that happened in Jerusalem continues to reoccur again and again today around the world. When we compare this common phenomenon in the True Jesus Church with the recordings of Acts 2, it is not difficult at all to picture exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost.
How did Peter convince the multitude that they were not drunk?Hide Answer
It was the third hour of the day (9 a.m.). Jews in those days would not become drunk at such an hour (cf. 1Thess 5:7).
How did Peter explain the phenomenon that the multitude had witnessed?Hide Answer
Peter explained that the disciples’ speaking in tongues was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out His Spirit on man.
How would you explain to a first-time visitor to the church about speaking in tongues?
According to Joel, when will the Holy Spirit be poured out?Hide Answer
In the last days.
How did the coming of the Holy Spirit fulfill the prophecy of verse 21?Hide Answer
When the Holy Spirit was poured out, the disciples received the divine power that enabled them to witness for Christ and lead people to salvation (cf. Acts 1:8). The power of the Holy Spirit was immediately evident when 3,000 people were cut to the heart, accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, and were baptized into Christ that day. Therefore, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was an act of God that led men to salvation. By the power of the Holy Spirit, many people since the day of Pentecost have heard the gospel of salvation, called on the name of the Lord, and been saved.