The day of Pentecost was so called because it fell on the fiftieth day after the presentation of the first sheaf to be reaped of the barley harvest, that is, the fiftieth day from the first Sunday after Passover (pentēkostos being the Greek word for “fiftieth”).
The day of Pentecost was so called because it fell on the fiftieth day after the presentation of the first sheaf to be reaped of the barley harvest, that is, the fiftieth day from the first Sunday after Passover (pentēkostos being the Greek word for “fiftieth”). Among Hebrew- and Aramaic-speaking Jews it was known as “the feast of weeks”4 (Ex. 34:22a; Deut. 16:10) and also as “the day of the firstfruits” (Num. 28:26; cf. Ex. 23:16a) because on that day “the firstfruits of wheat harvest” (Ex. 34:22a) were presented to God.
This suggests that the Pentecost in Acts 2—the coming of the Holy Spirit and the conversion of three thousand souls (Acts 2:41)—was also an anticipation of a greater harvest to come.
First, there was the sound of a “rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2). It is not immediately apparent to us in the English text, but the word for “spirit,” “wind,” and “breath” is the same word in both Hebrew (ruach) and Greek (pneuma)
When Ezekiel, by divine command, prophesied to the wind and called it to blow on the dead bodies in the valley of his vision, it was the breath of God that breathed into them and filled them with new life (Ezek. 37:9–14). And, probably with an allusion to Ezekiel’s vision, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
John the Baptist had foretold how the Coming One would carry out a baptism with wind and fire (Luke 3:16–17).
Fire, like wind, was a symbol of the presence of God. A pillar of fire led the church through the wilderness (Ex. 13:21–22), and it was a burning bush that symbolized God’s presence to Moses (Ex. 3:2–5). Furthermore, the fact that the tongues were “divided,” rather than singular, suggests that whereas the presence of God in the old covenant was localized (in the temple), it was now to be a factor for every believer to know and experience personally—every believer will be a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Peter 4:14)
As in the burning bush, fire denotes the divine presence (Ex. 3:2–5).
The barrier of human languages (Babel’s curse) was, for a moment at least, broken down.
The event was nothing less than a reversal of the curse of Babel.
True, Paul does urge the Ephesians to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), but this is rightly interpreted as exhorting believers to “keep on being filled with the Spirit” rather than a concession to a second-blessing phenomenon.
The apostolic commission was an unrepeatable and foundational ministry that served to establish the New Testament covenant community (Eph. 2:20).
The apostolic commission was an unrepeatable and foundational ministry that served to establish the New Testament covenant community (Eph. 2:20). The supernatural signs performed by the apostles served to testify to this unique and divine commission. Thus the signs that accompanied the apostles in their unrepeatable, foundational ministry were also themselves unrepeatable, temporary, and time-specific to the apostolic age.
The Jews who were resident in Jerusalem on this occasion were to a large extent pilgrims from various lands of the dispersion who had come to the holy city to celebrate the festival of Pentecost.
Parthia, Media, Elam (Elymais), and Mesopotamia lay east of the Euphrates; the Jews in those parts spoke Aramaic.
As for those living in Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, there is ample evidence of the large Jewish communities in those areas of Asia Minor.
Those visitors who came from Egypt and “the districts of Libya around Cyrene” belonged to another very populous sector of the Jewish dispersion. Jews had lived continuously in Egypt since the early years of the sixth century B.C.