Here comes the Holy Spirit
Pentecost Festival 50 days after the Crucifixion1On the Jewish festival day of Pentecost, the disciples and those with them were having a meeting inside a house. 2Suddenly, they heard a loud noise above them in the sky. It sounded like a violent blast of wind. The noise filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Then they saw what appeared to be flames in the shape of tongues. The flames split apart until every person in the room had a flame hovering on them. 4The Holy Spirit filled every person there. And the people started to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability. 5Devoted Jews from all over the world were staying in Jerusalem at the time of this festival. 6When they heard the noise, they came to see what was going on. What they discovered made no sense to them. They were hearing their own languages coming out of the mouths of the people from inside the house. 7Astonished, they asked, “Aren’t these people from Galilee? 8Why are we hearing them talking to us in our native languages? 9Look at how many languages we represent. In this crowd are Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, and Cappadocians. There are people from Pontus, Asia, 10Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and parts of Libya near Cyrene, along with visitors from Rome. 11There are Jews and converts to the Jewish faith. And there are Cretans and Arabians. Yet we all hear these people talking to us in our native languages as they tell us about the miracles God has done.” 12The people witnessing this were astonished and confused. They kept asking each other, “What’s going on here?” 13Others in the crowd, however, made fun of the people who were talking in the foreign languages. They said, “Well, they’ve had their limit of wine for the day.”
Pastor Peter at the pulpit14Peter stood with the other 11 apostles and addressed the crowd. Speaking loudly, he said, “I’ve got something you locals need to hear. I’m talking to you people who live in Jerusalem and in the surrounding area of Judea. 15You’re accusing these people of being drunk, but you’re wrong. Come on, it’s only nine in the morning. So you know better than that. 16What you’re seeing is the prophet Joel’s prediction coming true.
‘Here’s what will happen in the end,’ God says.
‘I’m going to throw open the floodgates of heaven
and let the Holy Spirit pour out on all people.
Your sons and daughters are going to prophesy.
Your young men are going to see visions.
And your old men are going to dream vivid dreams.
are going to get drenched in my Spirit.
They, too, will prophesy.
19I’m going to show the world remarkable sights in the sky.
I will show them signs on the ground, too—
signs written in blood, fire, and smoke.
20The sun will go dark, the moon blood red.
This is what will happen before the great and glorious Day of the Lord.
21On that day, anyone who asks the Lord for help will be saved.’ 22Gentlemen of Israel, listen up. God himself endorsed Jesus of Nazareth. God proved it by performing miracles, wonders, and other signs through Jesus. You saw it for yourselves. 23God knew what was going to happen. He planned it. The arrest. Turning him over to people outside our faith, who don’t follow our laws. Execution by crucifixion. 24But it was God, too, who released him from the pain of death and who brought him back to life. Death couldn’t hold onto him.
25King David wrote about this man:
‘The way I see it, the Lord is always with me.
We’re shoulder to shoulder, walking together.
Nothing’s going to rattle me.
Everything inside my skin is living it—I’m living in a life of hope.
27You’re not going to dump my soul into Hades.
You’re not going to let the One you love rot in the tomb.
28You have shown me the path I need to follow in this life. And you walk it with me, which is why I’m so happy.' 29Gentlemen, David wasn’t talking about himself. Our ancestral father is dead and buried. His tomb is right here in town. 30David was a prophet. He knew God had promised him that one of his descendants would become King of the Jews. 31Looking far into the future, David was able to see the resurrection of Christ. David saw that Christ had not been abandoned in Hades. And he saw that the body of Christ was not left to rot in the tomb. 32Jesus was raised from the dead. We know it because we saw him after he died. 33Right now he is sitting beside God. And just as God had promised, he gave Jesus the Holy Spirit to pass on to us. You’re seeing and hearing the evidence of that Spirit now. 34David never levitated into the sky, to the heavens. Yet listen to what he said.
‘The LORD said to me, “Sit here beside me in the place of honor.
The Christian movement begins41That day about 3000 people believed what Peter told them, and they got baptized. 42These people spent as much time as possible listening to the apostles teach. The group developed a sense of community. They got to know each other by spending time together, eating together, and praying together. 43The apostles did many miracles and other wonderful things for the people. A sense of reverence and awe gripped everyone. 44This community of believers became so close that they shared their possessions with each other. 45They went so far as to sell possessions and give the money they got from the sale to anyone in the group who needed it. 46These people met together every day at the Temple. They ate together in one house after another, taking turns. They freely shared their food, and were happy to do so because their hearts were in it. 47They kept thanking God for what he had done. In the process, they earned a fine reputation among the people. Every day the Lord added more souls to their group—people finding their way to God and to the salvation he offered.
The word Pentecost means “the fiftieth,” as in the fiftieth day. The festival comes about 50 days after Passover. Passover is when the Romans crucified Jesus. Pentecost is a festival celebrating the harvest. Many Jews call the festival by its Hebrew name Shavuot, “Festival of Weeks,” because it follows Passover by several weeks.
Wind is often associated with God. When the prophet Ezekiel had a vision about a valley full of human skeletons coming back to life, it was divine wind that breathed life back into the bodies once the muscles and flesh had covered the bones (Ezekiel 37:9-10).
Pentecost was a festival that encouraged Jewish people to celebrate in Jerusalem. Many came to Jerusalem for Passover and stayed the several weeks for Pentecost as well. For pilgrim holidays like this, the population of Jerusalem could more than double—and sometimes far more than double.
In Roman times Asia did not refer to the Far East. It was the territory on what is now Turkey’s west coast. It was home to one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire: Ephesus.
See Joel 2:28-32.
Some Bible experts say Peter is referring not to some apocalypse at the end of the world, but to the end of the old covenant—the old agreement between God and his people. Jeremiah 31:33-34 says that God will retire the old legal system and replace it with laws written on the heart. And in Ezekiel 36:27, God promises to put his spirit within his people.
These could include a variety of servants including slaves bought and sold or bond servants who have sold themselves into either part-time or lifelong slavery to pay for a debt. Either way, they are social bottom dwellers. And even they are going to get filled with the Spirit.
The Day of the Lord, many scholars say, refers to Judgment Day or to the Second Coming of Jesus – or to both.
Peter is referring to Psalm 16:8-11.
Many people in ancient times came to think of Hades as an incredibly inhospitable waiting room for the inevitable judgment that was coming. In the Hebrew language, Jews called this place Sheol, a place where the shadowy dead live and don’t return (Job 7:9). For “hell,” see the note for Luke 12:5.
This is a quote from Psalm 110:1.
More literally, “The LORD said to my Lord.”
When the apostles and other believers waited for the Holy Spirit’s arrival, as Jesus told them to do, two things happened before the spirit arrived. There was a sound “like a violent blast of wind” (2:2). And there was an appearance of flames that looked like tongues. Why do you think God would do something like that? Why not just send the Holy Spirit?
“The Holy Spirit filled every person there” (2:4). How so? What do you think was different about the people after the Holy Spirit filled them?
When the people heard the followers of Jesus from Galilee speaking in languages used throughout the Roman Empire and beyond (2:8), do you think this was a miracle of speaking or a miracle of hearing? Were the people who had been filled with the Holy Spirit talking in a variety of languages—one person speaking one language and another person speaking another? Or were the Jewish pilgrims from throughout the world simply hearing the words in their own languages? Which theory do you think best fits the context of the chapter?
Peter quotes a Psalm to say that David predicted the death and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:25-28). What do you think Peter saw in this Psalm that tracks with the story of Jesus?
Why do you think Peter not only told the people to repent, which is to “reject your sinful way of living” (2:38), but he also told them to “get baptized”?
Peter told the people in the crowd that if they repented and got baptized “you can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (2:38). What do you think he meant by that? Did he mean the people would hear a loud noise like a blast of wind and see flames of fire hovering above them? Or would they perform miracles and speak in other known languages? Or did he mean something else?
What do you think about the report that the first group of people to receive the Holy Spirit seemed to form themselves into a community of equals who “shared their possessions with each other” (2:44)?
LIFE APPLICATION. Some Christians get baptized. Some Christians choose not to get baptized. For people in our generation, what do you think is the value of getting baptized? And what are some of the arguments that would suggest baptism is not a requirement for entering into the spiritual Kingdom of God?
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter told the people in the crowd, “This is an evil generation. Break away from its sinful culture and practices” (2:40). If we took Peter’s advice today, what sinful culture and practices do you think we should consider avoiding?
LIFE APPLICATION. When have you ever seen a Christian do something as radical as “sell possessions and give the money they got from the sale to anyone… who needed it” (2:45)?