THE HOLY SPIRIT
The disciples wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit gathering daily and blessing God in the temple. Pentecost takes place fifty days after Passover as the people celebrate the first fruits of the harvest. This particular Pentecost changes things forever. The apostles are gathered in one place when suddenly the sound of a mighty rushing wind fills the house. Tongues of fire appear and rest on the twelve as the Holy Spirit fills them. The apostles begin speaking in other languages as the Holy Spirit gives verbalization. There is a danger in overemphasizing tongues without realizing that the emphasis should be placed on the fire which is a picture of God's presence and the purification his fire brings. There is an international crowd which gathers around the apostles because Jerusalem is filled with people from a host of nations due to the festival. It is the sound of the rushing wind which draws the crowd, and as they approach the apostles, they hear these men speaking in their own native language. They know that these men are Galileans which leaves them dumbfounded because Galileans were considered uneducated and culturally unsophisticated. Luke identifies five groups of people in the crowd as he moves geographically from East to West. This international crowd is very diverse because it represents the Jews of the dispersion which had spread far and wide. The crowd is perplexed, and they ask questions of one another while trying to understand what is happening. However, there are some in the crowd who ridicule the apostles and accuse them of being drunk.
The Apostle Peter speaks to the multitude, invites them to listen, and denies the charge that they are drunk. The evidence of the Holy Spirit's role and power is made evident by Peter's sermon. Peter declares that what they are seeing and hearing is the fulfillment of prophecy. Peter recites the words of the prophet Joel who had spoken of these things long ago. Peter, who recently denied Jesus three times, is now an expert in prophecy. He explains an extended quote from the prophet Joel who prophesied that in the last days God would pour out his Spirit, resulting in inner transformation and salvation. Peter then bears witness to the truth about Jesus. He reminds the crowd what happened concerning Jesus. Jesus' authority was authenticated through mighty works, signs, and wonders. Peter will not allow the crowd to try to ease their consciences by pretending to be unaware of the events that occurred surrounding Jesus. This was God's plan, but their guilt remained for Jesus' crucifixion and death at the hands of lawless men. Peter bears witness to the resurrection and testifies to God's sovereignty and power over all things including death. It was not possible for death to hold Jesus. Peter cites a Psalm of David to show his belief that God would overcome death through the Messiah. Peter reasons with his audience that since David died, his words could not be exclusively about him. Peter goes on to say that they were witnesses to Jesus' resurrection, explaining that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was the reason for what they were seeing and hearing. Peter boldly proclaims that Jesus is Christ and Lord, and when they heard this news, they were cut to the heart and wanted to know what to do. Peter called them to repent, believe, and be baptized with the encouragement that they too would receive the Holy Spirit. Peter exhorted the crowd with many other words, and he called the people to die to the crooked ways of their generation. The convicting and regenerating work of the Spirit yielded about three thousand souls who were baptized and added to the church.
Added To Their Number
The church is a people, not a piece of architecture. This new church family gave themselves to the Scripture, the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. Signs and wonders took place, affirming the authority of the apostles. This new church shared with generous hearts and gave to those in need. The church daily attended the temple and shared meals together which became the pattern of their worship and fellowship. They had the favor of the people, and the Lord continued to add to the new church.
Things To Consider:
- Do you think of God the Holy Spirit as a person, a presence, or a force? Why?
- What did the people hear when the apostles spoke in tongues?
- Why does the gift of tongues sometimes cause confusion and division?
- What does Peter use to show the truth about what the people are seeing?
- What do you see about Peter's sermon that stands out to you?
- Why is it significant that Peter quoted from David to a predominantly Jewish group?
- What is repentance?
- Why did Peter call the people to repentance?
- What is baptism? Why do you think Peter included it in his exhortation?
- Why do you think generosity should be an identifier for Christians?
- What should churches devote themselves to?
- Why do you think the church experienced favor with the people? Should we expect to have that same kind of favor Why or why not?