1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leaveJerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when theHoly Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in allJudea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This sameJesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John,James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.” 18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought afield; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone inJerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For,”said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’ 21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time theLord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” 23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying inJerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14 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. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my righthand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ 29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew thatGod had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand ofGod, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 ForDavid did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord:“Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made thisJesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Pentecost was one of three major Jewish festivals in Jesus’ time, along with Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. The name Pentecost referred to the holiday being 50 days after Passover, so it normally took place in the beginning of June when travelling conditions were ideal. Every male Jew who lived within 20 miles was legally bound to visit Jerusalem during Pentecost, and many came from even further away than that. Thus, Pentecost had an international crowd.
If you read the Old Testament closely, you can see that God always wanted to use Abraham’s descendants to reach ALL the nations and thatJerusalem would play a part in that.
Genesis 18:18 – “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.”
Psalm 86:9 – “All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.”
Isaiah 66:20 – “And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD…”
Jeremiah 3:17 – “At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of theLORD.”
The descendants of Abraham had become scattered because of the exile. But through Pentecost, God brought them to Jerusalem for an annual feast. Later in Acts the apostles would travel to what was, for them at the time, the ends of the earth. But in the beginning of Acts, God told the apostles to stay in Jerusalem because he was going to bring the ends of the earth to them – “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5).
The action began with the apostles huddled together in a room. They heard a sound like a high-speed wind and then a fire appeared above each of them. In the Old Testament, fire represented the presence of God. God had appeared in the desert as a pillar of fire. He had called to Moses from a burning bush. At Pentecost there was a smaller fire above each of the disciples. This indicates a shift – each person was now God’s temple. We are his body.
This smaller fire above each of them was in the shape of a tongue. Acts 2 says that the disciples became “filled with the Holy Spirit” and each of them began to speak in other tongues. To no surprise, a crowd formed and everyone heard the Galilean apostles speaking in their own native language.We sometimes think of this as a miracle of speaking, but it was really a miracle of hearing (or interpreting). It was an undoing of the Tower of Babel story from Genesis 11 in which people tried to make a name for themselves andGod confused their language and scattered them over the earth. At Pentecost, they are filled with God’s Spirit, united by a common tongue, and led out to proclaim Jesus’ name back in their native land.
My favorite part of this passage is the end – when after taking all this in, the people turn to each other and say “what does this mean?” They know something is happening. They’re just not sure what. Fortunately, Peter was there to explain it to them and thousands came to Christ on that day.
“What does this mean?” is such a great question for us to ask.
-When you feel something new or different happening inside your heart… what does this mean?
-When you keep waking up in the middle of the night… what does this mean?
-When someone is unexpectedly rude to you but you feel compassion, not anger… what does this mean?
-When you find yourself thinking of someone you haven’t thought of for a while… what does this mean?
-When you have the nagging feeling that you should help that person… what does this mean?
While it may not involve wind and fire and tongues, often the answer is the same today as it was 2000years ago at Pentecost.
It’s the Holy Spirit working.