Good morning. I am a little behind with our daily study. There will be times in which this happens. Yesterday was a busy day and I was unable to be in the office. So, just bear with me and I'll post as time allows. I hope you are well and that you are continuing to enjoy this journey that we are taking through the Bible.
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2: 1-4, NIV)
First of all, we discover that the setting is the Jewish festival of Pentecost. The word Pentecost literally means "fiftieth" getting its name from the fifty days that separate it from the celebration of Passover. Luke wants us to understand that all the believers were together. Luke emphasizes "togetherness" all throughout his writings. By doing so he underscores the unity of the community.
Luke's account of the coming of the Holy Spirit is that of power. Fire is symbolic of the divine presence and often divine judgement. We must remember, however, that this is Luke's account. In the Gospel of John we discovered that the giving of the Holy Spirit was much quieter. In fact, we are told "he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:22) This simply reminds us that we need to read the Bible as a whole in order to truly understand the work and nature of God.
"Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: 'Are not these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own language?'" (Acts 2:5-8)
This is an important verse. It makes clear, at least to me, that this isn't about speaking in tongues as we think of speaking in tongues. It is sad that there are those who make it all about that. *We will deal with what the Apostle Paul says about that subject later. So what is this about? The passage tells us that there were "God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven." These were Jews who were scattered during the Diaspora. Remember that at one time there were those Jews who were carried away into exile. (Babylonian and Assyrian.) Some returned later to their homeland, but others did not. Some of these Jews would return to Jerusalem for the celebration of the festival of Passover. Many may very well have stayed due to long-term business.
We are told that these men hear the disciples speaking in his own language. The words that were spoken were audible words that these men understood. What does this mean? Well, for one thing remember that Jesus told the disciples that they would be his witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) So, these people who are from all over the world (as they knew it then) have heard the disciples speak in a language they could understand. This also foreshadows the gospel being taken to the whole world.
"Some, however, made fun of them and said, 'They have had too much wine.' Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: 'Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning!'" (Acts 2:14-15)
Well, whether Peter was being sarcastic or serious, we don't know. But, he was basically saying, "We are not drunk! It's too early in the morning." I know that there are some who will not find the humor in that, but I believe that it is possible that Peter was intending it that way. It is either that or except the idea that the disciples actually did get drunk. I don't think many of us would like that idea.
Peter proceeds to preach a message to all those present. This message is found in Acts 2: 16-36. It is quite a message that basically says to the Jews: "They Messiah came unto you and you killed him. But, God has raised him from the dead, to which we are witnesses." Then, "when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized.' Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day." (Acts 2:37-38a,41) It is interesting that we are told that three thousand were added to their number. If you recall earlier, Peter had reminded the others that Judas "was one of our number." (Acts 1:17) Now, their number has grown. The day of Pentecost was the birthday of the Church.
Pentecost is about far more than speaking in tongues. This entire passage focuses on more than that. The Church has now been birthed. What we will now discover is, the disciples (and the Church) have been called upon to continue the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Tomorrow we will take a look at the first church.