By Diane Caston
Acts 2:1-4 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
We know from our previous study that the disciples were told to wait in the upper room for the Promise of the Father. There were approximately 120 people waiting in this upper room. It is hard to imagine a home that would hold 120 people, or that the message Peter preached afterward to thousands of people could have been in or near a home, which is why some assume that this room was perhaps a room somewhere on the temple grounds.
120 people, men and women, apostles and disciples were all waiting patiently for what Jesus promised. They didn’t know exactly what to expect. During the days after His resurrection, they had heard Him say that "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now". Acts 1:5 They probably didn’t know what to expect. They had certainly seen the Holy Spirit moving in Jesus’ life and ministry, so the filling of the Spirit was not novel to them. But would they know what to what would happen? In the Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit would move on men randomly. They would be anointed to prophesy or heal or speak forth the word of God, but the filling was temporary. This new filling was so different that Jesus told them it would be better for Him to go away, so that they could receive it!
Jn 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
Now here they were waiting. How many days would it be? Not many, how many is that? I wonder would they have gone home each night when it hadn’t happened that day? Or were they all waiting together the 10 days until the promise was fulfilled?
And then the Day of Pentecost had fully come! It was a feast day, 50 days after the feast of Passover. People were in Jerusalem from all around the world! Faithful Jews were there to obediently bring their first fruits of the wheat harvest before the Lord as a wave offering, and the day had come! After much anticipation the day finally arrived! It made sense when the disciples thought of it later. The Day of First Fruits was the Day of the beginning of the Christian church!
1. Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Suddenly there came a sound from heaven! They were waiting and waiting, then suddenly a sound came from heaven like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole room! It wasn’t windy; it was the sound of wind. This word for wind can also be translated breath. Imagine the breath of God as the sound of wind!
And something like divided tongues of fire sat upon each of them! Tongues of fire, fire is a symbol in scripture for purification, it burns away dross. It was a fire that didn’t destroy, like the burning bush. Fire for purity, God’s special presence sent down on each one of them individually, anointing each one of them with the ‘dunamis’, dynamite power for the service that would lie ahead for them. Something totally amazing happened on that day! Something that had never happened before! The Living God came to anoint His children for their lives’ work. The Holy Spirit came upon all of them, not just the apostles, not just the men, but upon all of them. Jesus used those days of waiting, deepening His work in their lives as they waited patiently together for this promise. Today, if we ask, we will each receive this same anointing. We will each receive the gifting that the Lord has for us individually, the gifts that He has prepared for us for service. This experience might be a bit different for each of us, sometimes it is something unexpected. Some have overwhelming joy and excitement, some don’t feel a thing, but the same is true for all, if we ask, we receive.
Luke 11:11-13 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
There is a little controversy over the difference between the filling of the Spirit and the anointing of the Spirit. Time prohibits the entire discussion of the differences, but to explain it shortly, the apostles were born again after Jesus’ resurrection when He breathed on them and said ,
“Receive the Holy Spirit” John 20:22.
The Spirit came to live inside of them, and they were born again. If that was the promise of the Father, the Gift of the Holy Spirit, then why would Jesus have them wait in the upper room for this special experience? We will see as we continue through the book of Acts that several times born again believers are anointed with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:4-14 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs— we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. ” So, they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean? “Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.
They began to speak in other tongues. The coming of the Spirit is invisible, but there is experiential evidence. All of them were speaking in different languages. What a strange thing! Instantly the disciples were all speaking in languages they hadn’t spoken before! Jesus told them these signs would follow… They would speak in other tongues. Mark 16:17 "These signs would follow those who believe, in my name they will speak with new tongues..."
It was not the Spirit speaking; The Holy Spirit gave them utterance. Devout Jews were confused when everyone heard them speak in their own language. Weren’t those speaking all Galileans, in other words, country bumpkins, not sophisticated or educated. How was that possible? What was going on? Luke gives us an inclusive list of the many nationalities of the languages that they were hearing. And what did they hear? What does this mean? Some were truly curious. Others mocked and ridiculed. Isn’t that what do mockers do, even today? They criticize things they don’t understand or refuse to believe! They declared the disciples were drunk! It would be unlikely in that culture of religious Jews that a group of 120 men and women would be outside in the square drunk mid-morning! Peter makes it clear that this is not the case!
One thing they got right! The disciples were declaring the wonderful works of God! Tongues are always praise spoken to God.
1 Cor 14:2 “ 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 .”
But what did this whole event mean?
1.That the promise of God was fulfilled to send the Holy Spirit
2. That He was going to do something new beyond just the Jewish people
3. This something new and spontaneous was for everyone (you and your children, all who would believe). Jesus was in heaven pouring out gifts on His people. These gifts Jesus gave to the church and ALL who would believe. This gift of tongues is only one of many gifts, but it is very special in that it is a gift of communication between God and His people. When we need help, when we need comfort, when we can’t express what we want in mere words, we have been given a gift to communicate. If you sincerely feel you need more in your prayer life, a fuller way to speak with God, ask for this gift. I don’t think He would say no!
2. Peter’s Sermon
14 “ But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’
(For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.)
This event leads to Peter’s lengthy message to the crowd who were confused and bewildered by what was happening. I only hit the highlights of his sermon here. I encourage you to read it in full at home. Peter, no longer the man who cowered at a servant girl and denied the Lord, now stood up in the power and boldness of the Holy Spirit and spoke. These men were certainly not drunk, but prophecy was being fulfilled.
This day was historic! It was pivotal to the plan God had to redeem all men who would come to Him. What God had promised in the book of Joel, chapters 2:28-32 was happening that day! “And the church of Christ was born!” The fulfillment of what Jesus promised when He went away had happened. The Holy Spirit had come to anoint the believers for service. The last days started that day.
Joel is an Old Testament book of judgement, but the Lord always tempers His judgement with a message of mercy. Peter explains that this phenomenon they are seeing was the fulfillment of God’s promise to fill all men with His Holy Spirit.
Peter explains that these signs would indicate this fulfillment of the time and seasons of the Messiah. These signs were evidence of the New Covenant. The Spirit will be for men and women, sons and daughters, and they will prophesy and dream dreams, and have visions, because the Holy Spirit would now be available to all people. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The first part of His sermon refers to the period of time starting this special day of Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out and that continues until the second part of Joel’s prophecy. The second part of Joel’s prophecy refers to the great and awesome Day of the Lord, a future time at the culmination of this current age when Jesus will come in judgement to rule and reign on the earth.
Then Peter continues with an evangelical announcement focused on the resurrected Jesus whom they killed. Peter tells them that this Jesus, who God approved by miracles and signs, who was appointed for our salvation, they had crucified. What happened this day was all about Jesus. He scorches their consciences. In the boldness of the Spirit, Peter accuses them, reminds them of what they already know. It was God’ plan, by determined foreknowledge, that added humanity to divinity, and allowed God the Son to be crucified for our sins.
The greatest gift of God was given, the taking our punishment on the cross.
2 Cor 5:21 He who knew not sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Then God raised Him up. Each member of the Trinity was involved in this resurrection. It was not even possible that He could be held by death. As Peter quotes from Psalms 16 and the words of King David, he points out that David was prophesying in this Psalm. In Acts 2:27 he quotes from Psalms 110:10, “For You will not leave my soul in Hades, neither will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” Obviously it is clear that this passage is not referring to David. Peter continues the argument for Jesus as Messiah as He reiterates the prophecies of David that directly reveal the role of the Messiah, the prophecies that they had missed in the study of the Word.
Jesus’ resurrection was the proof of what Jesus had done on that cross. The resurrection was confirmation of who He was. Jesus is now exalted, seated at the right hand of God! Peter explains to them about David prophesying this in
Ps 110 : 1 “The Lord said to my Lord "sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool."
Proving that Messiah had come, and God the Father has made Him Lord and Christ, this Jesus that they had crucified! He is the one who poured out what you see here. Peter then explains where this outpouring of the Spirit came from in Vs. 33.
“Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out that which you now see and hear!”
The Jews thought they could end HIs ministry. They thought by killing Him, they would be done with Him, but He was still working! Not only was He Messiah; He was the divine Messiah. This was the message the world needed to hear.
Jesus is not a self-help program. Jesus is not just a prophet. Jesus is God. He is both Lord and Christ. He has accomplished an amazing feat in coming from heaven as a human baby, growing up to reveal Himself to men, dying on a cross, rising from the dead, ascending back into heaven, and sending His Holy Spirit to lead and guide and teach until He returns! He needs to be preached today. People today don't really know who He is and what He has done. They have many misconceptions from what they have heard. We all have problems at our core; we are born in sin. It is in our nature. Jesus came to restore us!
Peter saw an amazing response to his message. That day the hearts of the people were cut to the quick; they were pierced! This is the result we want when we share the gospel with people, that hearts will be pierced! That these people will be convicted of their sin and choose to repent. This was Peter's message as he stunned them with revelation of their sin and who Jesus really is! What shall we do, they asked?
Then finally, Peter speaking through the power of the Holy Spirit, gave them the solution, Vs. 38 “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Now some say this special filling of the Holy Spirit was only for the early church, but Peter makes it very clear in the next verse that this promise "Is for you and your children and all that are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call."
They gladly received the gift of salvation, and the same day about three thousand were baptized! Amazing! The result was a beautiful beginning of the church that kind of reminds me of the time many of us got saved during the Jesus Movement in the 70's in Southern California. These early believers remained in the apostles teaching (bible study), they were at each other’s houses eating together with gladness and singleness of heart (no divisions), praying together, sharing their possessions with each other, signs and wonders happening, meeting in the temple, praising God! I can feel the joy! And the Lord added daily to those who were being saved!
Let’s pray for this to happen again! Amen