Summary: God gives us a ’language’ of unity in Him.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (vs 4)
The verse we’re studying today, and indeed, this entire passage involving most of chapter 2, has been debated and heatedly argued between various camps for many decades. These doctrinal differences have been the cause for more division among the brethren, more church splits, more offense and misunderstanding than perhaps any other debated issue in scripture, in the past century.
I want for us to see the enormous irony in this; that so much divisiveness and estrangement, so much feuding and fighting, has been and continues to rage over something that was intended to mark the oneness, the unity, the love, the family mindset, that is the body of Christ, by God’s own design and creation.
Let’s look at Acts 2:4 and the surrounding verses, and ask the Lord to help us see clearly today.
IT’S A CHURCH!
What’s the first thing a new father does, after he has seen that ‘Mom’ is ok and well cared for, and baby is washed and examined and off to the hospital nursery?
He either makes his way out to the waiting room where friends and family are in attendance, or he digs in his pocket for change and finds the nearest pay phone, or he steps outside and turns on his cell phone, or in some other fashion makes contact with someone somewhere, because someone has to be told, and told right now, either ‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’. Right?
I was in attendance at the birth of all of my children, and I know from personal experience that when your child is born, whether the first or the fourth or the tenth, you are not going to be likely to say, ‘Ah, that was nice and all went well, now I think I’ll go home for a nap.’
You might need a nap, and you may very well go home and take one, but not before you tell someone! And if there is no friend or family available, you’re going to be very likely to tell the cashier at the hospital gift shop, or the server at the hospital cafeteria line.
When I think about how the church came in, I think about God the Father decreeing that it come in such a way as to fairly shout to the world, “IT’S A CHURCH!”
Look at Acts 1 with me for a moment and let’s get the full picture. Reading from verse 4
“And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised. ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’.”
Now at this point they didn’t really understand what He was telling them, otherwise, I don’t think they would have responded to His instruction with yet another question about when He was restoring the kingdom to Israel.
They still didn’t have a clue, but at least this time it appears they were willing to do what He said.
In verse 12 it says they returned to Jerusalem and gathered in the upper room where they were staying. There’s some confusion about whether this was the same upper room where He had His final Passover celebration with the twelve, or an upper room in the temple area, or some other place altogether. I don’t think it need be an issue. They were together in Jerusalem, and that’s what Jesus told them to do.
In verse 13 of chapter one the remaining eleven Apostles are named as those who are gathered there (remember Judas is now dead), devoting themselves to prayer, and this is wonderful to see: “…along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers”.
At this point in time there may have been only around 18 or 20 people in the room. But although we aren’t given any more names, in the very next verse it says that when Peter got up to talk about replacing Judas, there were about one hundred and twenty present.
So they cast lots, and Matthias was chosen to be numbered with the eleven.
There’s another note of interest here. Please notice that although there are about 120 people in the room, no one seems to disagree with the suggestion that someone needs to be chosen to replace Judas.
No one is saying, “But we’re all apostles now! Haven’t you studied your Greek?”
No one is standing up and shouting, “Hey, I think we should take nominations and have a vote! Aren’t you going to give the East Jerusalem believers a chance?”
No, the authority of the Apostles as those chosen and taught personally by Christ is still in tact, and there is apparent unanimous agreement that they should seek God’s direction in replacing the son of perdition.