The passage can be read here.
If you were to tell the whole story of God’s dealings with human beings in say twelve headings, could you do it? How about these;
- Creation – God made everything, can’t really get past that
- Fall – Human beings messed everything up
- Flood – God will always judge sin and he judged humanity at the flood
- Babel – Pride arrogance and division
- Abraham – God deals with one man and his family
- Passover – God redeems his people from Egypt
- Conquest – God gives them a land as he had promised
- Kings – some good mostly bad
- Exile and Restoration – God will judge sin but he also forgives
- Jesus – his life, death, resurrection and ascension
- Return and Judgement – Jesus will return
When I started to work it out I would have liked a few more but even if there were just five headings, Pentecost would still be there and since it’s only recorded in Acts 2, that makes this one of the most important chapters in the Bible. It is significant because in it, Luke reveals how for the first time, believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. Let’s begin by unpacking that a little. The Holy Spirit is not an ‘it’, a power or a force, he is a person, in fact he is the third person of the trinity;
“There is one God, who exists eternally in three distinct but equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (FIEC Statement of Faith)
Jesus had spent time explaining to the disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to them;
“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
Pentecost marks a change in God’s dealings with people. In Exodus, God had instructed his people to build a Tabernacle with the promise:
“Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.” (Exodus 29:45)
Everything changed with the coming of Jesus;
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:23)
After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit of God indwells believers;
“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:19)
So we can see; first God dwelt among his people, then with his people and finally in his people. That’s the reason Jesus could say honestly that it was for the disciples’ good that he should go away. During Jesus’ ministry on earth he could be in one place at a time. Now the Holy Spirit is constantly present within Christians throughout the world. If you are a Christian he is with you right now and if you are not yet a Christian; he is probably telling you to give your life to Jesus.
Pentecost was a Jewish feast that brought religious Jews to Jerusalem from all over the known world. The Holy Spirit came to a united people, they were not perfect, they could have been going over their mistakes and blaming each other for their failures but they were united in prayer. In his last night before the cross Jesus prayed that believers would be one. I have noticed over the years that God blesses unity in mission.
The Holly Spirit came in power. They heard the sound of a violent wind which then filled the house. There was an obvious manifestation of God’s power as what looked like tongues of fire came to rest on the believers. They were filled with the Spirit and began to speak in other languages. The violent wind and the tongues of fire may be pointing to what is going on. The Greek word for spirit is ‘pneuma’ also means wind (although the word for wind in verse 2 is different as it was a violent wind), and the word for tongues as in ‘tongues of fire’ (glossa), is the same word used for languages in verses 4 and 11. The division of nations with different languages came about as a result of God’s judgement – here through the Holy Spirit, God was reaching out to people of all nations.
I’ve heard people suggest the Holy Spirit gave the gift of tongues in order for the gospel to be preached in different languages at Pentecost. If we look at what the believers actually said in the other languages, it looks more like worship;
“We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Whenever human beings have an encounter with God, their first response is often to worship him.
Somehow the believers either via some sort of balcony or by venturing out onto the street, began to attract the attention of the crowd. They must have been so full of joy because some of the crowd suggested they were drunk!
“O Thou who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart
Kindle a flame of sacred love
Upon the mean altar of my heart.” (Charles Wesley)