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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 in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?  8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own 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.”

Peter Addresses the Crowd

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 men 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 heaven 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.’

Reading the text:  thoughts and reflections

The last few days have been some the most trying but also some of the most rewarding.  I called MMCC to halt (for the most part) what we have been doing and to gather for prayer seeking God’s will for the church.  I have kept the sanctuary open for people to come and pray.  Many have.  I have.  My truest sense is that God has heard our prayers and has promised something marvelous for us.  I have prayed that this Sunday may be that day.  My desire is that this Sunday we too will be gifted afresh with the power of the Holy Spirit and share a kindred time with the birth of the church at Pentecost.  Rather than being somewhat anxious and worried about upcoming Sundays, I am eager for this one to come.  Lord, may I prepare in earnest guided by your Spirit.

As I read this text, the first thing I notice is that they were all together in one place.  Clearly they had obeyed Jesus’ command and resisted whatever temptations were likely possible.  Without warning, the Holy Spirit came in an awestruck fashion.  What a terrifyingly wonderful scene that must have been.  Could we endure such a moment today?  Would we believe it?  Can such a thing happen today?  I believe so.  Nowhere in scripture do I find the Holy Spirit coming only once.  I would delight if he came in such a way during my sermon this Sunday!  That would simply be awesome!

I don’t think it was any accident all of those people “from every nation under heaven” were there by mistake.  We must respect the sovereignty and wisdom of what God does.  We should not take for granted the people before us.  Might we stop to think that they were put there for a reason?  Think about the people in our community…..are they just “accidents” or has God lead them to live here for a purpose and that MMCC might well be an important part if not the reason why they’re here?  Hummm.  The Holy Spirit enabled them (that is the disciples) to speak in the native tongues of those who had gathered there and share the Good News.  The question was posed, “What does this mean?”

I believe the message here is that through the Holy Spirit we are able to communicate the Good News (i.e. witness) with others whom our language of faith might be foreign.  So we can take heart that as we have received Christ and consequently the Spirit, we too have the gift and ability to share the Good News with “foreigners”.  I don’t think this is restricted to just our words.  Our actions can speak volumes.  So we needn’t be consumed by worrying if we are evangelists or not, we already are….and we are commanded to do so.  Still we focus on the how…I am utterly convinced God is saying just do it and I’ll show you.

Scholarship helps

2:1. The day of Pentecost was an annual feast that followed the Feast of Firstfruits by a week of weeks (i.e., seven weeks, or 49 days) and therefore also was called the Feast of Weeks (cf. Lev. 23:15-22). The name “Pentecost,” of Greek derivation, means 50 because it was the 50th day after the Firstfruits feast (Lev. 23:16).

Where the followers of Christ were gathered at this time is not definitely known. Luke simply wrote, They were all together in one place. Perhaps they were in the temple precincts. However, the place is called a “house” (Acts 2:2), an unlikely designation for the temple, though it may be referred to as a house (cf. 7:47). If they were not assembled at the temple, they must have been near it (cf. 2:6).

2:2-3. The references to “wind” and “fire” are significant. The word for “Spirit” (pneuma) is related to pnoe, the word translated “wind” here. It also means breath. Both nouns—“spirit” and “wind” or “breath”—are from the verb pneo, “to blow, to breathe.” The sound like the blowing of a violent wind . . . from heaven points to the power of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of His coming.

The tongues of fire portray the presence of God. Several times in the Old Testament God displayed Himself in the form of flames (Gen. 15:17; Ex. 3:2-6; 13:21-22; 19:18; 40:38; cf. Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).

No believer there was exempt from this experience, for the flames separated and came to rest on each of them.

2:4. The filling with the Holy Spirit is separate from the baptism of the Spirit. The Spirit’s baptism occurs once for each believer at the moment of salvation (cf. 11:15-16; Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 2:12), but the Spirit’s filling may occur not only at salvation but also on a number of occasions after salvation (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 13:9, 52).

An evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was other tongues (heterais glossais; cf. 11:15-16). These were undoubtedly spoken living languages; the word used in 2:6, 8 is dialekto, which means “language” and not ecstatic utterance. This gives insight into what is meant by “tongues” in chapters 2; 10; 19; and in 1 Corinthians 12-14.

This event marked the beginning of the church. Up to this point the church was anticipated (Matt. 16:18). The church is constituted a body by means of Spirit baptism (1 Cor. 12:13). The first occurrence of the baptism of the Spirit therefore must indicate the inauguration of the church. Of course Acts 2:1-4 does not state that Spirit baptism took place at Pentecost. However, 1:5 anticipates it and 11:15-16 refers back to it as having occurred at Pentecost. The church, therefore, came into existence then.

2:5-13. Jews of the “diaspora” (dispersion; cf. James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1) were . . . in Jerusalem for the feast. Perhaps they were bilingual, speaking both Greek and their native languages. They were dumbfounded to hear Jews from Galilee speaking the languages of peoples surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

It is a question whether only the Twelve spoke in tongues or all 120. Several factors support the idea of only the Twelve being involved in this phenomenon: (1) They are referred to as Galileans (Acts 2:7; cf. 1:11-13). (2) Peter stood up with “the Eleven” (2:14). (3) The nearest antecedent of “they” in verse 1 is the “apostles” in 1:26. However, a problem with this view is that the number of languages listed in 2:9-11 is more than 12. But one apostle could have spoken more than one language, in sequence. Still it is possible that all 120 spoke in tongues. Since the majority of them were from Galilee they could have been called Galileans. The references to the Twelve would have indicated they were the leaders of the 120.

The topic the people discussed in all these languages was the wonders of God. It seems they were praising God. Their message was not one of repentance; it was not the gospel.

Unable to explain this miracle away, the Jewish unbelievers were puzzled, and some resorted to scoffing and asserted, They have had too much wine. The word “wine” (gleukous) means new sweet wine.

b.     The discourse of Peter (2:14-40).

  This sermon has basically one theme: Jesus is the Messiah and Lord (v. 36). Peter’s discourse may be outlined as follows:


I.       This is the fulfillment of prophecy (vv. 15-21)

A.     A defense (v. 15)

B.     An explanation (vv. 16-21)

II.      Jesus is the Messiah (vv. 22-32)

A.     His works attest that He is the Messiah (v. 22)

B.     His resurrection attests that He is the Messiah (vv. 23-32)

III.     Jesus, the glorified Messiah, poured forth the Holy Spirit (vv. 33-36)

IV.     Application (vv. 37-40)

2:14-15. Peter began with a rebuttal of their accusation of drunkenness. It was only 9 in the morning (lit., “the third hour of the day”; days began at 6 a.m.), far too early for a group of revelers to be inebriated!

2:16-21. Instead of being drunk the believers were experiencing what was described in Joel 2. In Peter’s words, This is what was spoken by the Prophet Joel. This clause does not mean, “This is like that”; it means Pentecost fulfilled what Joel had described. However, the prophecies of Joel quoted in Acts 2:19-20 were not fulfilled. The implication is that the remainder would be fulfilled if Israel would repent. This aspect of contingency is discussed more fully in the comments on 3:19-23.[1]

2:1-4, The Coming of the Spirit on Pentecost.

 Promises made earlier by John the Baptist (Luke 3:16) and the risen Lord (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) are now fulfilled. Among nt writers, only Luke sets the church’s beginning on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Passover (Luke 22:1; Lev. 23:15-21). His adopting the tradition of a forty-day period of post-Easter appearances required at least this much time (Acts 1:3). The nucleus of the messianic community certainly included the apostles to whom Christ had promised the Spirit (1:8) and conceivably the 120 disciples (1:15). The Spirit’s arrival is presented in a way that anticipates the prophecy in 2:19: the loud wind from heaven serves as a “wonder in the heaven above,” while the tongues of fire resting on those gathered become “signs on the earth beneath.” “Wind and fire” may recall a similar extraordinary appearance of the Lord to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-13). All of those gathered, whether the Twelve or 120, were “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4), the first of several such occurrences involving both individuals and groups in Acts (4:8, 31; 8:17; 10:44-47; 11:15; 13:9, 52; 19:1-6). What distinguishes this particular infusion of the Spirit is that the recipients speak “in other tongues,” i.e., foreign languages (cf. 1:6, 8, 11). The phenomenon is repeated later at the conversion of Cornelius (10:46).

2:5-13, The Worldwide Audience.

 The crowd attracted by this cacophony of sounds are Jews “living in” Jerusalem, not pilgrims from the Diaspora. They are struck by the speakers’ distinctive Galilean accent (v. 7; cf. 1:11), yet they comprehend what is being said in their respective native dialects (vv. 6, 8, 11). The magnitude of the miracle is underscored as they list the nations from which they have emigrated (vv. 9-11). With its emphasis on universal understanding, the account is sometimes read as a reversal of the universal confusion of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). More likely, Luke wants to stress that the Jewish community which first hears the gospel at Pentecost is genuinely universal in scope, hence representative of world Jewry. His narrative description here anticipates the promise in Peter’s speech that “all flesh” (Acts 2:17; also v. 21) would receive God’s Spirit.[2]

The Proof of Pentecost

Jewish people associated the outpouring of the Spirit especially with the end of the age (1:6), and several signs God gave on the day of Pentecost indicate that in some sense, although the kingdom is not yet consummated (1:6–7), its powers had been initiated by the Messiah’s first coming (2:17).

2:1.  Pentecost was celebrated as a feast of covenant renewal in the Dead Sea Scrolls; some later texts celebrate the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. (Some commentators have suggested that Luke intends a parallel between Moses’ giving the law and Jesus’ giving the Spirit, but the law-Pentecost connection may be later than Luke, and little in Acts 2 suggests that Luke makes the connection, even if some Jewish Christians before him might have. More significant is the crowd drawn by the feast; see comment on 2:5.)

2:2.  God elsewhere used wind to symbolize his Spirit, who would revive the dead at the future restoration of Israel (Ezek 37). This symbol shows the eruption into history of what was anticipated for the future.

2:3.  God cast his glory on each tabernacle in which he chose to dwell before the exile (Ex 40:34–35; 1 Kings 8:10–11). But fire was also used to describe God’s impending judgment in the day of his fury and thus could serve as a sign of the future (Is 66:15; cf. comment on Lk 3:16). (Others have paralleled the fire on Sinai when God gave the law—Ex 19:18—or fire’s use in purifying metals.)

2:4.  Some scholars have adduced instances of incoherent speech in other cultures as parallels to this speaking in tongues, but the purported parallels from Greco-Roman antiquity are weak. Luke presents this speech not as incoherent but as worship in languages they do not know, and he points to an Old Testament background in the gift of prophecy (see comment on 2:16–18).

The Peoples of Pentecost

The most sensible setting for the encounter Luke describes here is the temple courts. If the disciples are still meeting in the “upper room” of 1:13 (this point is debated), they would be near the temple; very large upper rooms were found only in Jerusalem’s Upper City, near the temple.

2:5.  Jewish people from throughout the Roman and Parthian worlds would gather for the three main feasts (Tabernacles, Passover and Pentecost). Because Pentecost was only fifty days after Passover, some who had spent much to make a rare pilgrimage to Jerusalem stayed between the two feasts. Pentecost was probably the least popular of the three pilgrimage festivals, but Josephus attests that it was nevertheless crowded.

2:6–8.  The Jews from Parthia would know Aramaic; those from the Roman Empire, Greek. But many of them would also be familiar with local languages spoken in outlying areas of their cities. (Even most Palestinian Jews were functionally bilingual, as are people in many parts of the world today.)

2:9–11.  Although these are Jews, they are culturally and linguistically members of many nations; thus, even from the church’s inception as an identifiable community, the Spirit proleptically moved the church into multicultural diversity under Christ’s lordship.

Some commentators have thought that this list of nations corresponds to ancient astrological lists, but the parallels are not very close. More likely is the proposal that Luke has simply updated the names of nations in the table of nations (Gen 10). Those nations were scattered at the tower of Babel, where God judged them by making them unintelligible to each other (Gen 11); here God reverses the judgment in a miracle that transcends the language barrier.

2:12–13.  Writers (whether writing fact or fiction) often used questions to set up a response. Ancient writers sometimes described inspiration in terms of drunkenness; Greeks believed in frenzied inspiration by the gods, and Philo, a Jewish writer thoroughly in touch with Greek ideas, wrote of divine intoxication more than any other extant writer. Thus experiences of the transcendent (whether God-inspired or moved by base spirit possession) sometimes appeared to outsiders as ecstasy similar to drunkenness. (Although drunkenness was common among Greeks, it would have been a grievous accusation in Jewish Palestine, where it was regarded as obnoxious and sinful.)

The Prophecy of Pentecost

2:14–15.  In Greco-Roman society, public speakers would normally stand to speak. Peter answers the questions (2:12–13) in reverse order. People usually got drunk at night (cf. 1 Thess 5:7), at banquets, not at 9 a.m.; people might have a hangover in the morning, but they would hardly act drunk.

2:16–18.  “This” (2:16) refers to the speaking in tongues (2:6, 12), which Peter says fulfills Joel’s message about the Spirit of prophecy, perhaps by means of a Jewish qal vahomer (“lesser to greater”) argument: If the Spirit can inspire them to speak languages they do not know, how much more could he inspire them to prophesy the word of the Lord in their own language? Visions and dreams were especially prophetic activity, and Peter underlines this point by adding “and they will prophesy” at the end of 2:18 (not in Joel).

Peter reads Joel’s “afterward” (2:28) as “in the last days,” a phrase that in the prophets normally meant after the day of the Lord (Is 2:2; Mic 4:1), which fits Joel’s context (Joel 2:30–3:3). Because the future age was to be inaugurated with the Messiah’s coming, it has been inaugurated in at least some sense because the Messiah, Jesus, had come—a point the outpouring of the Spirit on his followers is meant to demonstrate.

2:19.  Joel 2:30 has “wonders” but not “signs”; Peter may add “signs” because he wishes to show that at least some requisite signs took place on earth (Acts 2:22; cf. Deut 26:8). “Blood, fire and columns of smoke” is the language of war.

2:20–21.  In Joel the sun would be blotted out and the moon discolored especially by the locust (and/or human) invasion (Joel 2:2, 10; 3:15). Peter suggests that in some anticipatory sense, this final time of God’s salvation for Israel has begun. Tongues prove that the Spirit of prophecy has come, which proves that salvation has come, which proves that the messianic era has come, and thus that the Messiah has come.

Peter breaks off his quote from Joel here, but resumes with the final line of Joel 2:32 (“as many as the Lord calls”) at the end of his sermon (Acts 2:39). Thus his sermon is a standard Jewish (midrashic) exposition of the last line he quoted, and answers the question: What is the name of the Lord on whom they are to call? In the Hebrew text, “Lord” here is the sacred name of God (Yahweh), which readers in the synagogue would pronounce as the word for “Lord” (Adonai); in the Greek text that Peter probably cites to communicate with hearers from many nations, it is simply the Greek word for “Lord,” but everyone would know that it means “God” here.[3]



The Early Church. In the early church pentekoste is used for the 50 days of rejoicing that begin with Easter. Since Easter is always kept on Sunday, the seven weeks end on a Sunday too. During this period there are no fasts, prayer is offered standing, catechumens are baptized, and thoughts are directed to the last things, so that pentekoste can be regarded as a sign of the heavenly kingdom, to which Christ has already ascended as the firstfruits of the harvest. Later the last day of the period takes on independent significance and pentekoste comes to be used for it as a day that commemorates the outpouring of the Spirit.       [4]

<illustration>:  You probably didn't think about it, but you took considerable risks getting here to church this morning. Risks such as :

-- A one in two million chance of dying by falling out of bed.
-- A one in 350,000 chance of being electrocuted by your alarm clock.
-- While brushing your teeth, you flirted with the 20 percent chance that your local water supply has infectious bacteria in it.
-- Men endured a one in 7,000 chance of a serious shaving injury.
-- Men and women endured the danger of a one in 2,600 chance of being zippered, snapped or buttoned into some sort of injury.
-- If you avoided the stairs, you still took a one in six million risk of an elevator injury.
-- A one in 11,000 risk of dying in your car while traveling, as either a passenger or a driver.
-- A risk of one in 145 of your car's being stolen still waits for you.

Sermon Development

Theological significance



What is the main point?

Sermon outline

Text (from The Message)


When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

            There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?


Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;

Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,

      Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,

      Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;

Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;

Even Cretans and Arabs!

They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

            Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

            Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

Peter Speaks Up

That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:


‘“In the Last Days,” God says,

“I will pour out my Spirit

      on every kind of people:

Your sons will prophesy,

      also your daughters;

Your young men will see visions,

      your old men dream dreams.

When the time comes,

      I’ll pour out my Spirit

On those who serve me, men and women both,

      and they’ll prophesy.

I’ll set wonders in the sky above

      and signs on the earth below,

Blood and fire and billowing smoke,

      the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,

Before the Day of the Lord arrives,

      the Day tremendous and marvelous;

And whoever calls out for help

      to me, God, will be saved.”’



The importance of breathing / anticipation of your newborns first breath and subsequent cry..affirmation of new life…indescribable joy.

Pentecost (lit. “fiftieth”) / birth of the church / promise of Acts 1:8 (and the gospels) fulfilled / Early church:  50 days of rejoicing after Easter / Jews:  Feast of Weeks or Firstfruits which celebrates the people giving of the first fruits of their harvests for 7 weeks in a row.


We can speak the language

Willimington’s Book of Bible Lists: one of the 57 Ministries of the Holy Spirit

Our environment & community not that different from 1st century Palestine / very complex area: diverse on all scales (ethnically, economically, generational, educational, etc.) / task is no different from the first churchàwitnesses / no blaming or excuses….it is God who gives you the ability with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit / believers then already have this ability / language of faith comes in many forms besides just words but our actions as well

Safety first is fatal to holiness.

Peter’s transformation:  cowardàcourageous / passiveàproclaimer or preacher / loseràleader / took enormous risks / playing it safe is fatal to holiness

<illustration>:  You probably didn't think about it, but you took considerable risks getting here to church this morning. Risks such as :

-- A one in two million chance of dying by falling out of bed.
-- A one in 350,000 chance of being electrocuted by your alarm clock.
-- While brushing your teeth, you flirted with the 20 percent chance that your local water supply has infectious bacteria in it.
-- Men endured a one in 7,000 chance of a serious shaving injury.
-- Men and women endured the danger of a one in 2,600 chance of being zippered, snapped or buttoned into some sort of injury.
-- If you avoided the stairs, you still took a one in six million risk of an elevator injury.
-- A one in 11,000 risk of dying in your car while traveling, as either a passenger or a driver.
-- A risk of one in 145 of your car's being stolen still waits for you.

MMCC risks / pilgrims of 40 years ago / relying on prompting of the Spirit, it grew, added more buildings, preschool, staff, etc. / not knowing for sure of God’s exact plan but hearing Him day “do it and I’ll show you” / now what’s next? / as that first church so long ago had the sounds and visions of the Holy Spirit (wind & fire), what “sounds and visions” of the Spirit’s power here will draw in our own “Jerusalem”?  The Spirit is here…let us pray that God will point us in His direction…though we may not know the ultimate plan, let us be bold enough to follow it trusting He’ll show us along the way.


Fresh Power

<quote>:  Jim Cymbala, Fresh Power

We must avoid the idea that well-intentioned Christian service and doing things for God will ever amount to much without the fresh infillings of the Spirit’s power. (p. 51)

Fallacy of fine preaching, programs, etc./ do little in way of conversions, bringing people to baptism, transforming lives / power of the Holy Spirit a must…experience a must

Proper balance of human effort and the dependence on the Spirit

Col. 1:29:  To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.


[1]Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

[2]Mays, James Luther, Ph.D., Editor, Harper’s Bible Commentary, (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.) 1988.

[3]Keener, Craig S., IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament , (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press) 1997.

[4]Kittel, Gerhard, and Friedrich, Gerhard, Editors, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 1985.

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