Summary: The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost marks the birth of the new covenant people in Christ. The fullness of the Spirit inspires the witness of the Word.
The Spirit and Witness of the Word
The event of the coming of the Holy Spirit & the message in all languages 1-13
The explanation of the Event of His coming & the message preached 14-40
The effects of His coming & the message received and new life given 41-47
1. Pentecost was for the Jews a great celebration of God’s blessing of the harvest. Later it also came to be associated with the giving of the Law of Moses, which tradition says happened 50 days after the Passover.
Here we see the Holy Spirit coming to harvest souls who enter the new covenant through the name of Jesus Christ by repentance and baptism into His name.
Also, we see the Holy Spirit writing the new law of Christ on the hearts of the new Christians that are brought into this new covenant of grace.
When the Holy Spirit comes Luke records three supernatural signs: the sound, the sight, and the strange speaking.
A. Rushing Mighty Wind fills the house where they are sitting.
B. What seem like Tongues of Fire resting on each of their heads.
C. They are all filled with the Holy Spirit and begin speaking with new languages or tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
This was all clearly under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God. Everything happening here was done by God, supernaturally and symbolically.
Jesus had told the disciples to expect this. He had described power from on high that they would receive in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and John the Baptists words. Now it was here and happening! Strange to all who were gathered in Jerusalem, these signs made the crowds who came there ask: What do these things mean? How is it that each of us hears them in our own language declaring the praises of God?
Notice the international nature of the crowd that gathered. They are from all over the Roman empire. These are Jews who have come to Jerusalem for this feast. As the apostles speak they still seem to have the Galilean accent! Most of the crowd is captivated and beside themselves with amazement! But, of course, in every crowd there are the hecklers. Some took the seat of the mocker, and mocking things they were totally ignorant about, said, “These guys are drunk!” Ignorant and stubborn unbelief is a deeply blinding problem. Perhaps they were only making fun and not actually believing that themselves. Peter’s retort that it is still early in the morning seems to suffice.
This was not a case of incoherent utterance. They were not out of control, or ecstatic beyond rational behavior. Luke describes their behavior through Peter’s speech as fulfilling the prophetic promises of God to pour the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. Many commentators have seen this as a reversal of the curse of Babel where human languages were confused to scatter humanity. Now the Holy Spirit has begun calling all humanity into unity again through the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
By the way, speeches are a very important element in the book of Acts. There are over 19 speeches recorded in Acts, making up about 25% of the volume of the book! Obviously, most of them are abbreviated, giving us the content of each. Peter’s speech here in chapter 2 has less than 500 words. I read this speech out loud in my office with a stop watch and the total time was 3 minutes, 16.53 seconds. What is packed into these 480 or so words is an explanation of what is happening and a gospel proclamation that God uses to call 3000 people into the Christ.
So we have wind, fire, new speech… the event of the Holy Spirit’s coming.
2. Thus we move to the second section of this chapter, in verses 14-40 where these events are explained and the first sermon of the new covenant church is proclaimed.
As an explanation to what is happening Peter points to scripture. Joel’s prophecy finds fulfillment in these events. First, Peter tells them what this in not. This is not drunkenness. Then he tells them what it is. This is what Joel said would happen!
Look at verses 17-21.
This is the “last days.” In other words, we are on the home stretch headed toward the end of time. This is marked by the pouring forth of God’s Spirit upon all mankind, or all flesh. There is not sexual distinction: sons and daughters, men and women are included. There is no age distinction: young and old will experience revelation from God. There is no ranking distinction: all are servants. This is a cosmic event reaching all of heaven and earth. The ultimate goal is that all will call on the name of the Lord for salvation.