The Day of Pentecost
The day of Pentecost stands out as a premier event in Christianity. Unfortunately, many Christians do not understand what happened on that day as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, nor its importance to our more than abundant life here on earth. It was the day that God provided the original outpouring of His gift of holy spirit. What exactly was this gift, where did it happen, and who were present? The answers are found in the first two chapters of the Book of Acts.
1) What was the gift?
Acts 1: 4 -- And, being assembled together with them, [Jesus] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
These were the instructions that Jesus gave to the apostles on the day he ascended up to heaven.
Acts 1: 5 -- For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost [holy spirit] not many days hence.
Act 1: 8 -- But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost [holy spirit] is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
The Gospel of Luke reiterates these verses:
Luke 24: 49 -- And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
From these verses we see what was given on the day of Pentecost. It was the 'promise of the Father', which also means to be 'baptized with holy spirit', which also means 'to be endued (clothed) with power from on high'.
2) Where did this take place?
Many people are under the mistaken impression that the outpouring of holy spirit occurred in the 'upper room'.
Acts 1: 12, 13 -- Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
These verses make two important points:
1) They specifically state that it was the day of the Ascension that they returned to the upper room. It was not yet the day of Pentecost.
2) Verse 13 names the 11 men who abode in the upper room. There were no women present. Indeed, women would not be allowed anywhere near where the men slept. The upper room certainly could not hold all the people mentioned as being present in Chapter 2 of Acts (verses 9 -11).
The next several verses relate some details of what occurred over the following days, while the apostles waited for 'the promise of the father'.
Acts 1: 14 -- These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
While they waited, the apostles also got together with other disciples and the family of Jesus, and they prayed. Where would this happen? The most likely place would be the Temple, which is supported again by the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 24: 52, 53 -- And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
The apostles and other disciples were traditional Israelites. They went to the temple five times a day for the hours of prayer: 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. Acts 2: 15 records the beginning of Peter's speech to those who witnessed the outpouring. He notes that it was 'the third hour of the day', which corresponds to the 9 a.m. hour of prayer. This is when Peter, the others, and all devout Jews in Jerusalem would be at the Temple to pray.
3) How many were present?
Who were the first to receive the gift of holy spirit? The end of chapter one of the Book of Acts refers to eleven of the original apostles, and also Matthias who was chosen to replace Judas.
Acts 1: 26 -- And they gave forth their lots [votes or ballots]; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
The first word of the first verse of chapter two is 'and', which implies a continuation of the previous thought.
Acts 2: 1 -- And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they [the 12 apostles] were all with one accord in one place.
Acts 2: 2 -- And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house [the temple was often referred to as the house] where they were sitting.
The sound 'as of a rushing mighty wind' was the sound of the apostles breathing in heavily. They were following the instructions given by Jesus in the Gospel of John.
John 20: 22 -- And when he had said this, he breath on them [he breathed in], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost [holy spirit].
In this verse, the first usage of the word 'them' is in italics, meaning it was added by the translators. Once this word is removed from the verse, the word 'breathed' is better translated as 'breathed in' rather than 'breathed on'. This was the way that Jesus told them they would receive the gift of holy spirit.
Acts 2: 3, 4 -- And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [holy spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit [God] gave them utterance.
Speaking in tongues is the outward manifestation in the physical world that the speaker has the power of holy spirit within. They did not know what they were speaking, because their minds didn't understand the language. They just believed and spoke it forth, and the words spoken were words that God chose.
Acts 2: 5, 6 -- And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
Jews from all over the known world were at the temple that day. They gathered around the area where the apostles sat, and were amazed. It was the miracle of Pentecost that people were present that understood what the apostles were saying. This is not something that happens every time a believer speaks in tongues out loud, but it was surely a sign to many devout Jews on that day.
Acts 2: 7 - 11 -- And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans [the 12 apostles]? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia. Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
What did the Jews hear? The wonderful works of God!!!
Acts 2: 12, 13 -- And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
Some of the people were genuinely amazed at the turn of events. They wanted to know what it all meant. Others mocked the apostles, but Peter stood up and explained how their actions were not the result of drunkenness.
Acts 2: 14, 15 -- But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
The 'third hour of the day' is a reference to the 9 a.m. time of prayer.
Acts 2: 16 - 18 -- But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
Thus Peter began the sermon of his life. He didn't have time to prepare and make notes. He just stood up and began to speak. He was able to do this because he had studied the Word of God, and now he was also filled with holy spirit, giving him both the boldness and the words to speak. Peter goes on, near the end of the chapter, to describe how Jesus' death and resurrection were foretold in the Old Testament.
Acts 2: 32, 33 -- This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [holy spirit], he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
Peter told those present that he and the other apostles had just received holy spirit, the promise of the Father. Everyone there had seen and heard it.
Acts 2: 36, 37 -- Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
This was the same Peter, who a few weeks earlier had been hiding from everyone in fear. Now he was boldly telling the Jews in Jerusalem that they had crucified the Christ.
Acts 2: 38 -- Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [holy spirit].
These people wanted to have what the apostles had. Peter told them what they had to do. That same day about 3000 souls (Acts 2: 41) were born again and received into manifestation the gift of holy spirit.
The remission of sins is not the same as forgiveness. Remission means that they are wiped out, the slate is wiped clean. It is as if it never happened.
Acts 2: 39 -- For the promise is unto you [Israel], and to your children [children of Israel], and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Peter states that the promise is first given to Israel and the children of Israel, but also then to any and all others who believe. That of course includes us. Ever since the day of Pentecost, if anyone believes and confesses Romans 10: 9, 10 (That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation), they receive the same gift the apostles received. We receive the gift of holy spirit, which is the promise of the Father, which is to be endued with power from on high. The proof of it is that we too can speak in tongues.