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Acts Chapter Two, Pentecost

In our study of Acts chapter two, we are told of the day that the church received the power of the Holy Spirit. They had been told to wait for it and, when it came, the church began to expand in a mighty way.

Acts 2:1

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

This verse is referring us to a specific day in time and it has a very significant meaning. Most of us Christians think that Pentecost is the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the early church. While that is true, it has deeper roots. In Jewish traditions (Jesus was a Jew), the name for Pentecost is Shavuot. This was a feast that occurred 50 days after the firstfruits (tithe) of the new barley harvest were waved before the Lord. The scholars believe that it was the day, after the people left Egypt during the Exodus, on which God gave Moses the law. What a beautiful pattern God has made. Pentecost begins with his people receiving the law. They received the law hoping they could fulfill its requirements even as God knew they could not. God already knew this and was planning on sending his son, Jesus Christ, to fulfill it. The Jewish people faithfully observe the Feast of Pentecost without seeing it's deeper meaning. This is the same day of Pentecost that is being referred to in this verse. Then, in God's perfect timing, Jesus shows up and the disciples receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Christians today celebrate this day on the 50th day after Easter.

Acts 2:2

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

The gift that Jesus had promised is finally here! When God shows up, you know it. As with many things that Jesus told the disciples, they probably did not understand what the Holy Spirit was going to be and the power that would be at their disposal. It seems that we, as Christians, many times are the same way. We go through life in defeat rather than in the victory that Jesus gave to us. We go through life trying to get by under our own power. This same power that came over the house in this verse is the power that can be alive and filling us. We must ask ourselves, who is running our life? If we are trying to do it on our own, we will not have the power. If we are trusting in God and the Holy Spirit, then we have God alive in us and who or what can stand against us? Let us resolve to live in victory.

Acts 2:3 & 4

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

These two verses, to me, are bringing home the same point. That point is that there is only one Spirit that is given to followers of Jesus Christ. Each one of us, in Christ, receive that same Spirit and the power that is associated with it. In the second verse, we see that, when they received the Spirit, that Spirit caused them to be able to speak in different languages (tongues). It seems that, today, we spend too much time in trying to take some course or other program to equip us to do God's work. I am afraid that we would probably say wait I have to take a language course at a Christian College first. In these verses, we see that, if we trust in God, He will do the work through us. Not in our own strength and skill but because of the Holy Spirit. Are you working in your own strength or in the Spirit?

Acts 2:5

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.

This verse reminds us that, in the beginning, the Jewish people were the only ones that had access to God. Even at this point, even though Jesus had came for all people, the time was not yet right for gentiles to be included. Isn't it amazing how God works? He has His timing and it is always perfect. Who knows why God had the early church to be all Jewish and to be persecuted? Today, you and I, though we may be different, can be added through the vine that is Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:6

When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

Once again, we get to see the power of God through the Holy Spirit. You see, those that received the Spirit did not have to go to some place and study language for years. It was not a matter of what the people could do but what the Spirit could do through them. In your daily life, are you trusting in your knowledge and abilities or are you totally trusting in God?

Acts 2:7

Utterly amazed, they asked "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?"

Once again, we see God showing his power through the Holy Spirit. When people are around you, do they get the feeling that there is something different? If you've got the Spirit, it will show and God will use you to change lives. That is what is happening in this verse.

Acts 2:8-11

"Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"

Here the crowd that witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit is described. People from all over were in Jerusalem and they were able to hear the gospel in their own languages. Notice that they did so not through any efforts of man to learn the language but through the power of the Holy Spirit. It seems that today we put much stock in our own efforts to prepare to share the gospel. Many spend years in colleges and receive many degrees but, here, it was common people being used by God. This can be an encouragement to all of us to help us to see that it is not what we know but who we know that gives us the ability to share the gospel.

Acts 2:12 & 13

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

The crowd is still trying to figure out what is going on. Some are asking questions while others begin to criticize. For us, as Christians, the world should be looking at us in much the same way that this crowd is looking at the early disciples. Do you find people asking you why you are different? If you have the Holy Spirit alive in you, you will be different and those around you will notice. Then, if they cannot understand, they will start to criticize you. In this passage they started to accuse the early disciples of being drunk. This is just the beginning of persecution, as the early church would come to learn. When this persecution comes, rejoice at the fact that you are considered an authentic Christian (Jesus never said it would be easy).

Acts 2:14 & 15

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning!"

After all the insults, now Peter is getting up and going to share the gospel with this crowd. This is what we must do sometimes as well. We, as Christians, are called not to answer insult with insult but to tell people about the grace and mercy of God. Peter starts by using a bit of logic on the crowd when he says that they are not drunk and it's only nine in the morning. Peter is gently showing the crowd that they are mistaken about what is going on and then he is going to tell them about Jesus. That should be a pattern of evangelism for us as well.

Acts 2:16 & 17

No, this is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel: "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."

Peter is now using the Old Testament (Torah) to explain what is going on. Most of the crowd was probably Jews and the Torah was all that they new about God. He is basically telling them that what is written in the Torah is happening before their eyes. We can also learn a little from this quote from Joel. It says "In the last days" God would pour out his Spirit. We, as Christians, have had that Spirit poured out on and into us and, as the quote goes on to say, it is for everyone. That should make us sit up and take notice that we are indeed in the last days. That should also give us a focus of purpose in telling others about our Savior.

Acts 2:18 & 19

Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

Peter is still quoting the prophet Joel to the crowd. He is still talking about the last days. He again says that the gift of the Spirit is for everyone. Then, he goes on to predict wonders in the heaven and signs on the earth. These wonders happened on the day that Jesus was crucified. We are told in the gospel accounts that, on that day, it was dark in the middle of the day. We are also told of the curtain in the temple being torn in two. These events would still be in the memory of many of the people in this crowd.

Acts 2:20 & 21

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Peter is still quoting from the prophet Joel here. The first part, with the darkness and blood red moon actually happened when Jesus was crucified. The last part is such an awesome promise but also is a stumbling block for many. It seems like it is too easy to be saved by just calling on the name of the Lord but that is what it says. Many want to add a bunch of rules or other things but it really is that simple to be saved.

Acts 2:22

"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know."

Now, Peter is still addressing the crowd of Jews but he shifts from quoting the prophet Joel to reasoning with them about Jesus. He points out that they even saw the signs, miracles, and wonders that God did through Jesus. In life, it is much easier to dismiss talk than it is actions. Peter is reminding them that they not only heard the talk but they seen the walk from Jesus. How are you doing in demonstrating your walk and not just talking the talk? Walking the way of Jesus, my friends, that is the way to reach people. As they say, talk is cheap.

Acts 2:23

This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

Now, Peter gets personal with the crowd. In the first part of the verse, Peter let them know that God had a plan, even in the midst of the evil that was going on. He also pointed out that God was not surprised by any of the events. Sometimes, we need to step back and realize that God is bigger than we can imagine and He knows everything. Even in the darkest of times, like Peter described in the previous verses, God is in control and we can take comfort in the fact that He loves us. In the last part of this verse, Peter explains to the crowd that they took part in the crucifixion of Jesus. As Christians, we sometimes forget that we had a part in the crucifixion of our Lord just as the crowd that Peter is speaking to did. You see, Jesus went to that cross willingly and paid for all sin and that includes us as well as them.

Acts 2:24

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Have you ever had a problem, done something about it, thought that everything was all better and then found out that your solution had only made the problem worse? I know that I have been there and done that. That is basically what Peter is telling this crowd of Jews now. In the last verse, he explained that they were to blame (and in fact we all are) for Jesus going to the cross. Now, he adds that the solution they came up with (the crucifixion of Jesus) did not work because "God raised him from the dead". That's really got to get their attention. Peter tells the crowd that Jesus was freed from "the agony of death". Do we really understand what that means? My friends, many people take comfort in the false hope that, after they die, life is just over. We see hear that, even for Jesus when he died, life was just not over but he was gripped in "the agony of death". There may be some really terrible physical things that occur when a non-Christian dies but can you imagine the agony that Jesus felt? He was separated, for the first time, from his father and took the punishment for our sins. Separation from God, my friends, that is agony.

Acts 2:25

David said about him: "I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

Now, Peter goes back to the Old Testament and quotes part of Psalm 16 to the crowd. This is big in that he quoted King David. David understood that the Lord (this same Jesus that was crucified) was "always before me". When he said that the Lord was at his right hand, that was big. The right hand was considered a place of honor as well as a place of influence. Basically, David says that, since Jesus is with him, he will stand strong. We can also have that same assuredness and we can have it even more because of the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit, it is even better than at the right hand because we have the power of God living inside of us. The question for us is will we remain strong and influence the world around us?

Acts 2:26 & 27

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

Peter is still quoting King David here and it is a very good model for us. David says, in the first part of the quote that his "heart is glad and my tongue rejoices". He says this because of the verse before and the fact that the Lord is always with him. He goes on to say that he will live in hope because of the promise of not being abandoned to the grave. We need to ask ourselves every day if we are living in hope and rejoicing. If we are doing that, then those around us will be able to see Jesus through us and that is what it is all about. David finishes off this verse by saying that God would not let his Holy One see decay. That is what has happened not long before Peter addressed this crowd of Jews. Jesus died on the cross for our sins but did not remain in the tomb to see decay. He was resurrected and Peter is using King David to make them see that, through Jesus, these words have been fulfilled.

Acts 2:28

You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.

This is the final part of Psalm 16 that Peter quotes to the crowd. In this verse, King David is rejoicing that God has been with him and guided him. Then, David looks forward to the time when he will be filled with joy in the presence of the Lord. That brings up a good question for us, as Christians. Are you living with joy? You see David had to look forward to the time when he would be with God but we have God with us every day. The Holy Spirit is God and he is inside of each one of us if we are Christians. That is what sets us apart and should make us have joy. No matter what happens, we still have God in us and with us to get us through. That, my friends, should bring us joy.

Acts 2:29-31

Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendents on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.

Peter has finished his quote of David in the Psalms and now starts to reason with this crowd of mostly Jews. Peter starts to contrast King David with Jesus by referring that David had died and that you could go and find his body in the grave. Then he contrasts that with Jesus and the fact that the tomb they layed him in was empty (Jesus was resurrected) and the fact that, unlike David, you could not go see Jesus' body in a tomb where it was decaying. What's more, Peter points out that King David had foreseen this and wrote about it in the Psalm that was quoted.

Acts 2:32

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

Peter's speaking to this crowd of Jews is based on Jesus' empty tomb. Prior to this passage, Peter explained that King David had a tomb where you could go and still find his decaying body. Then he explained that Jesus was not in the tomb where he was placed upon his death. Here Peter is telling them that all of them are witnesses to the fact that the tomb was empty. This fact was undeniable because all the people could go to the tomb and see that there was no body there. Logically, there can only be a few explanations for the empty tomb: 1. Jesus was not dead when he was placed in the tomb and he pushed the boulder out of the way and escaped. 2. Someone came and moved the boulder and stole his body. 3. He was resurrected and God removed him from the tomb. The first two explanations do not make sense because the tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers. They would have been killed for allowing the body to be stolen and, in fact, they were scared when it was discovered that the tomb was empty.

Acts 2:33-35

Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.

Peter continues to contrast Jesus Christ and David in the first part of these verses. He explains that Jesus was not only raised from the dead (which is something that happened to others such as Lazarus) but he, unlike King David, ascended into heaven. He then goes on to explain that the miracle that the crowd is seeing is caused by Jesus pouring out the Spirit which was foretold in David's quote from the Psalm. He then gives further proof by quoting Psalm 110 and basically says that, since David is still in the tomb, he could not have been talking about himself in this quote. Therefore, it must be Jesus that King David was referring to.

Acts 2:36

"Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

Now, Peter is getting personal. He is basically telling the Jews that, because of their own scriptures, they can be sure that Jesus is the promised messiah. That is basically what the term "Christ" means. You see, the Jews believed the Torah (Old Testament) and the fact that there was a coming messiah. They just did not believe that it was Jesus and that was the problem. Even today, many Jews wait for the promised messiah.

Acts 2:37

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'

We notice that, when the people were presented with the simple facts, they asked what shall we do. Many times we, as Christians, get caught up in thinking that we have to know so much of the Bible in order to reach someone. Here, we see that Peter basically shared that Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. That was it and then God convicted the people, not Peter or any of the apostles. There was no debate or fancy plan to share the gospel. It was a simple presentation of the facts and trusting in God to do the rest. We should all remember that and do likewise.

Acts 2:38 & 39

Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off- for all whom the Lord our God will call.'

Peter is telling the crowd what they should do to be saved from the effects of their sins. It begins with repentance which is a changing of the mind to bring it into agreement with the will of God. The second is baptism which is an act of identifying oneself with the savior, Jesus Christ. Then, God promises us, through Peter, that we will receive the Holy Spirit. This is the same thing that happened to Jesus when he was baptized. This gift will help us to conform our actions as well as our minds to the will of God. Finally, Peter tells the crowd that this promise is for everyone. This probably amazed the crowd because, in the mind of the Jews, salvation was only for the chosen people of God (Israelites).

Acts 2:40 & 41

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.' Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Up to this time, Peter has been trying to use logic and to reason with this crowd using the scriptures. Now, he turns to warning them about the effects of ignoring the word and pleads with them to accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I wonder if we are as fervent in our attempts to tell people about Jesus. In the end, we see that God was at work in the crowd and three thousand came to Christ. That is a good example for us in that, if we are faithful in telling the world the gospel, God will do the work and call people to him.

Acts 2:42

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

This verse is telling us what the new believers did to grow in their faith. At this time, people did not have Bibles because they were too expensive. Therefore, the new believers gathered with the apostles to learn about Jesus. Today, most of us have a Bible and we can learn more anytime we want but we should still get together with other Christians to study as well as for fellowship. It is tough to be a follower of Christ and it is good to get together with other Christians for encouragement. This verse also tells us that they got together for the breaking of bread. They did this as a remembrance of Jesus, just as he had instructed the disciples at the last supper. Finally, we are told that they gathered for prayer.

Acts 2:43

Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

Does the phrase "filled with awe" describe you and your relationship with Jesus Christ? For me, just the fact that the Son of God left heaven to come and suffer in my place fills me with awe. Then, you add on the fact that God knew that it was going to be necessary even before the fall of man in the garden. That is filled with awe to me. The last part of the verse goes on to say that wonders happened through the apostles. Sometimes, I wonder if we realize that God did not stop doing amazing things after the apostles were gone. Is God doing wonders and miraculous signs with your life? Are people coming to Christ by watching your example? God is still into using his people to change the world. If you are his, then he wants to do wonders and miraculous signs through your life.

Acts 2:44 & 45

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had a need.

Would you give up something that you had to help a fellow Christian in need? That is what these verses are talking about. The early church took care of each other because they thought of each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. There was persecution among the early believers and so they banded together to spread the gospel. They even sold things they had and did not need in order to help out their family of believers. Would we, as Christians, do the same? That question can help you to assess where you are at in your walk with the Lord.

Acts 2:46 & 47

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people. And the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Does this sound like the church of today? At this time, they were meeting together every day. People had to notice that they took this Christian thing seriously and that it was the priority in their lives. They were praising God and those around them did not have to guess whether they were Christians or not because it was obvious in their actions. Because of their example, people probably asking questions about why they were acting the way they were which gave them the opportunity to share the message of Jesus. When was the last time that you stood out so much that people asked you about Jesus? That is a question that we should be asking ourselves.

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