Acts 2


“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 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.” Acts 2:1-4

The Holy Spirit Comes At Pentecost

Remember Luke is writing to inform us of the continuing work of Jesus Christ through His apostles.

We know the Jews celebrated many feasts and the feasts and festivals of the Jewish nation were scheduled at specific times in the annual calendar and they were both civil and religious in nature. Some marked the beginning or the end of the agricultural year, while others commemorated historic events in the life of the nation.

All of the feasts were marked by thanksgiving and joyous feasting but all feasts and festivals were a reminder for all the people of Israel to worship the Lord and give thanks to Him for what He had done for them as a nation.

The very first feast of the Jewish year was Passover, Exodus 12:1-2. And remember that the Passover was a celebration, it was to remind them of how God delivered them from the hands of the Egyptian slavery, Exodus 13:1-4.

The second feast followed fifty days later. In the New Testament, it is called Pentecost, and we see that’s the time they were all together in one place. To the Jew, whenever you mention Pentecost, they would know the exact date for this feast, Acts 20:16.

But the feast of Pentecost also had other names in the Old Testament, in Exodus 34:22 it’s called ‘feasts of weeks,’ Deuteronomy 16:10. The Old Testament also calls it the ‘feast of harvest’ in Exodus 23:16 and finally in Numbers 28:26 it is referred to as the ‘day of first fruits.’

And when all the wheat and barley had been cut and gathered, God said back in Deuteronomy 16 where they were to celebrate. The people were expected to assemble at the place of the altar and hold their celebration there, Deuteronomy 16:11.

Pentecost was a happy celebration of God’s great provision. Freewill offerings were made with a special emphasis placed upon doing good for the Levites, strangers, orphans and widows, Deuteronomy 16:10-14.

The point is, that Pentecost was a time to rejoice in all the things that God had blessed His people with. It was a time of giving, but on this occasion, as we are going to see God was going to give something else.

Remember that John the baptiser foretold that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit, John 1:33-34. In other words, no mere apostle could baptise someone with the Holy Spirit, it had to be the Son of God. Jesus also promised that ‘they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them’, Luke 24:49.

Just before Jesus’ ascension to the throne in heaven, He told His apostles they would be baptised with eh Holy Spirit, Acts 1:4-5.

I just need to mention a really important point here, in contrast to the baptism of the great commission recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, which was a command, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a promise. The apostles were promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit, not everyone who was in Jerusalem, Acts 1:8.

And who are the ‘you’ mentioned there in verse 8? Sometimes in our Bible when the word ‘you’ is mentioned it’s used in the plural sense, meaning more than one person. And if we read back in Acts 1:2, we will conclude that Luke has to be referring to the apostles.

We also know that the ‘they’ of Acts 2:1 refers to the apostles because Acts 1:26, tells us that ‘they cast lots’, and tells us that Matthias was numbered with the eleven. This promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit given by Jesus was given to the apostles.

Contrast Water Baptism With Holy Spirit Baptism

1. Water baptism is for ‘all Nations’ and is required of every creature who is subject to the Gospel, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15-16 / Galatians 3:26-29.

1. Holy Spirit baptism was poured out once upon the apostles. Jesus promised the apostles that the Spirit of Truth which the world cannot receive, John 14:17 / Luke 24:46ff, would ‘guide them into all truth’.

2. Water baptism is a command of God, Matthew 28:19 / Acts 2:38 / Acts 10:48 / Acts 22:16.

2. Holy Spirit baptism was a promise of God fulfilled in Acts 2:4 and since coming into the world He is now available to indwell His people, Acts 2:38 / Titus 3:6. The Power was given to apostles, as the Spirit willed, Mark 9:1 / Mark 16:17 / 1 Corinthians 12:11.

3. Water baptism is an act of obedience and an act of man, Acts 2:38 / Acts 10:48 / Acts 22:16 and is ‘for the forgiveness of sins’.

3. Holy Spirit baptism was an act of God, not an act of man, Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4, and was not for salvation, but given to confirm the word, Hebrews 2:4.

4. Water baptism is administered by men or by those doing the teaching, 1 Corinthians 1:14.

4. Holy Spirit baptism was to be given by Jesus, Matthew 3:11 / John 1:33 / Acts 2:4.

5. Water baptism is a condition of salvation, Mark 16:15-16 / 1 Peter 3:21 / Hebrews 9:14.

5. Holy Spirit baptism was not related to salvation.

6. Water baptism is ‘INTO the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit’, Matthew 28:19 / Acts 2:38 / Acts 8:14-16 / Acts 22:16 / 1 Corinthians 6:11.

6. Holy Spirit baptism had no formula because it wasn’t performed by man, Matthew 3:11.

7. Water baptism demonstrates the believer’s faith, Galatians 3:26-27 / Mark 16:15-16 / Colossians 2:12.

7. Holy Spirit baptism was not a human act and did not require faith, Matthew 3:11 / John 1:33.

8. Water baptism represents the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, Colossians 2:12 / Romans 6:1-6.

8. Holy Spirit baptism had no such symbolism. It was the indication of the bestowal of ‘authority’ and the ‘power’ which accompanies authority, Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4 / Acts 2:17 / Acts 2:38.

9. Water baptism is a baptism of repentance that is, it belongs to and grows out of repentance, Mark 1:4 / Luke 13:3 / Acts 19:4 / Acts 2:38.

9. Holy Spirit baptism came before the first Gospel sermon of Peter, Mark 1:4 / Luke 7:29-30 / Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4.

10. Water baptism is a condition of cleansing from sin, Acts 22:16 / Ephesians 5:25-27 / John 8:31-32.

10. Holy Spirit baptism, came along after the apostles were clean by the word, John 15:3, not for cleansing but to confirm, Hebrews 2:4.

11. Water baptism puts one into Christ, Romans 6:1-4 / Galatians 3:26-27.

11. Holy Spirit baptism was poured out after the apostles were already in Christ and had been urged to ‘abide’ in Him, John 15:1-6 / Acts 2:1-4.

12. Water baptism was in order to receive the gift of the Spirit, Acts 2:38 / Acts 5:32.

12. Holy Spirit baptism was the one-time act of the coming of the Spirit into the world 1 John 2:2 / 1 Timothy 2:6 / Hebrews 2:9. Just as Jesus’ blood was shed as a one-time act but has an ongoing benefit for all. Power was to cease when the message was confirmed, 1 Corinthians 13:1-9.

13. Water baptism must continue even to the end of the age, Matthew 28:19-20.

13. Holy Spirit baptism was a one-time event. No two baptisms are known after the Ephesian letter written, Ephesians 4:5.

When we take the time to read the relevant Scriptures carefully, we read that Jesus promised the apostles that, ‘THEY’ would receive power from on high, when the Holy Spirit comes upon ‘THEM’, John 14:26 / John 16:13 / Luke 24:49 / Acts 1:4-5.

When we take a moment to understand the contrast between Holy Spirit baptism and water baptism, it’s clear that the promise, was a promise for the apostles only which means the 120 didn’t receive the Holy Spirit simply because like Christians today, they had never been given such a promise by Jesus.

There’s a huge difference between a promise and a command and today, sinners receive the Holy Spirit when they are obedient to the Gospel, at their baptism, Acts 2:38 / Acts 5:32.

Why was it just given to those guys and no one else? In what way was the Holy Spirit going to help them? We need to ask ourselves what role did the Holy Spirit play?

The Holy Spirit played a significant role in the fulfilment of the command to go into all the world, Matthew 28:19-20. Throughout the history of the Bible we see people forgetting that’s who God is, and so, God has to remind His people who He is, Genesis 26:24 / Exodus 3:6 / Exodus 20:2. And that theme runs right throughout the Old Testament.

We all have bad memories sometimes and we often forget what God has done for each of us. That’s why when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He said, ‘do this in remembrance of me,’ Luke 22:19.

In a very similar sense, the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles to remind the apostles about Jesus, John 14:26. So the Spirit’s role was to counsel them, teach them all things and remind them of everything Jesus said.

Now did that time come? Is there any evidence that Jesus’ promise came true? Well, yes there is. The first physical evidence that the Promise had come was a ‘sound like’ a rushing, mighty wind which filled the house in which the apostles were sitting.

And the second piece of evidence was divided tongues which ‘looked like’ fire appeared to them and sat on each of them. And finally, the third piece of evidence was each spoke in a language he had never studied. It was in these ways, that the Holy Spirit’s presence was made known.

Let me say something really important here about the first two pieces of evidence. When writers in the Bible are trying to explain something which is almost unexplainable, they used words to help us understand what’s happening.

Notice Luke doesn’t say there was a rushing wind or actual fire on the apostle’s head, he says it ‘sounds like’ and ‘looks like’. Books like Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation just to name a few are filled with language like this.

When Ezekiel is trying to explain his vision from God, he says it ‘looked like’ glowing metal, it wasn’t literally glowing metal, Ezekiel 1:4-5.

When Daniel is describing his vision, he says it ‘looked like’ a bear and another ‘looked like’ a leopard, it wasn’t literally a bear and a leopard he saw, Daniel 7:5-6. When John is describing his vision, he says, it ‘looked like’ a sea of glass mixed with fire, Revelation 15:1-2.

All these writers are trying their hardest to use human illustrations to describe their heavenly visions. But the point is that Luke wasn’t literally talking about a violent wind, he wasn’t literally talking about tongues of fire.

He doesn’t know and fully understands what’s happening and he’s trying his best to describe the events which are unfolding using the only language he knows, human language.

Anyone who claims that they have received Holy Spirit baptism in the way these apostles did today, needs to seriously re-think what they are saying. The promise of Holy Spirit baptism was for the apostles, I know that what happened to Cornelius’s household, Acts 10, is similar but we will deal with that when we get there.

But for the moment I want us to look at how the audience reacted to the Spirit’s arrival. Remember that Moses instructed that all males be present for the feast of Pentecost, so it is no surprise to us when Luke tells us next.

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our 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!” Acts 2:5-11

The coming of the Holy Spirit was effectively confirmed by the witnesses who came together because of the sound like a rushing, mighty wind, Acts 2:4. Now not only did the apostles hear and see something but so did the audience. The audience heard every man speak in the language in which he was born.

Some religious groups claim that when the Spirit comes upon you, you have to go and tell someone about it. The audience did not have to be told something unusual was happening. The apostles did not have to tell everyone that they had received, or gotten, as some say, the Spirit.

Those from the fifteen nations mentioned by Luke heard them speaking ‘in their own tongues’, or languages. They also saw that which Christ poured out. Their surprise at what they heard and saw moved them to seek some possible explanations.

Just like Luke struggled to describe what happened, those who witnessed the apostles speaking in different languages, couldn’t understand what was happening either.

The evidence of tongue-speaking was one thing but the real miraculous gift about speaking in tongues is the fact that those who could speak in many different languages had never studied or even been taught these languages in their lives.

Tongue speaking as some claim today is not some gobble gook language that no one can understand. Tongue speaking was the known language that was spoken in the known world at that time.

When we get to Acts 10 and Cornelius’ household we look into the purpose of the supernatural gift of tongues in more detail. But let me say this, for now, the gift of tongues served its purpose beginning in Acts 2 right up until the final person who was given this gift died in the early years of the church.

We have no reason to believe and there is no Biblical evidence to support that this gift would still be used and needed today, as it has served its purpose.

The Scriptures teach that the gift of ‘tongues’ was to cease, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. In other words, the gifts of supernatural prophecy, supernatural tongues and supernatural knowledge were never intended to last forever.

And so with the completion of apostolic testimony and the completion of the Scriptures of truth, the complete written revelation of God in the form of the Book we call the Bible, Jude 3.

There is no need for these gifts today because God hasn’t got any more revelations to share with us. He has revealed all of His will in His Word, 2 Peter 1:3.

Something else which is interesting about those who profess to speak in tongues today reveals a sad inconsistency. Did you know that there are schools you can go to, to learn to speak in tongues?

Some groups in their mission training schools must teach their missionaries to speak in the ‘tongues’ of those nations they seek to evangelize.

And when you think about it, this practice demolishes their contention of having the miraculous gift of tongues, such as that displayed on the day of Pentecost. If they had the gift of tongues why would they need to be taught?

Luke carries on and tells us that there were many people around and he lists at least fifteen separate nations represented on the day of Pentecost.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

“The list of geographical names shows the diversity of the people to whom the apostles spoke, the provinces and locations mentioned lying in all directions from Jerusalem and representing a cross-section of the languages spoken in the entire Roman Empire.”

Peter Addresses The Crowd

“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. 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! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Acts 2:12-16

Notice how the audience reacted, some people merely wondered at the meaning of the occurrences, while others said the apostles were drunk. No Jew would drink any alcohol at that time of the morning.

Peter in his sermon tells us why these things happened, and he basically says, do you want proof that Jesus was who He said He was? Do you want proof that this is from God? Do you remember the prophet, Joel? Do you want proof that God keeps His promises?

Peter says what the audience saw and heard on Pentecost was proof that the promise of the Holy Spirit really had come and the apostles were witnesses to the fact. Acts 2:33. Luke did what every faithful Christian should do and that’s to point people back to Jesus, Acts 4:12.

“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. 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. 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.’” Acts 2:17-21

Peter plainly says the pouring out of the Spirit upon the apostles was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel. If the Jews were wondering when Joel’s prophecy was going to be fulfilled, this was it. If the Jews were looking for proof that they were now living in the Last Days, this was it.

We need to remember that not all of Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, some of his words would be fulfilled a little later. For example, when Joel says, ‘God will pour out His Spirit on all people’ or ‘all flesh’ as some translations have it, he was talking about the Gentiles.

‘All people’ doesn’t refer to every single person on the planet, it refers to those who belong to God, the Jews, and those who were still to come to God, the Gentiles. And we know that the other part of Joel’s prophecy was to be fulfilled in Acts 10:44-47.

Joel also prophesied that ‘some daughters would prophesy’, this again was fulfilled a little later in relation to Philip and his four daughters, Acts 21:8-9.

The sun turning to darkness and the moon turning to blood is figurative language indicating judgment and a change in government, Isaiah 19:1 / Isaiah 13:10 / Isaiah 34:4 / Ezekiel 32:7-8 / Matthew 24:1-35.

Calling On The Name

Now before we move on I think I need to say something about Acts 2:21, where Joel says, ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Many people claim if you just call on the Name of Jesus, you automatically become a Christian, Romans 10:9-10.

In Christianity today the phrase, ‘calling upon the Name of the Lord’ has become used by many as a phrase by which a person can be saved without doing anything else.

As a result, after admitting they are sinners, many people now believe they are saved simply because they called on Jesus to save them. Let’s go ahead and see if we can understand what this phrase actually means.

The first time the phrase is used in the Old Testament is by the prophet Joel, speaking of what people will do in the future in order to be saved. And the first time it’s used in the New Testament is by Peter as he quotes Joel’s words in the very first Gospel sermon ever preached, which tells us that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled during this time.

When we carefully this chapter, after informing those present that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’, we see the response of those present, they asked ‘what shall we do?’ Acts 2:37, they were asking, what must they do to be saved?

In what way do we call upon the Lord? If calling on the Name of the Lord simply meant confessing your sinfulness and inviting Jesus into your heart, then surely, Peter would have told them to do just that, but he didn’t, Acts 2:38.

Notice what those present on that day did, even before they asked the question, ‘what must we do?’ they heard the Gospel, Acts 2:14 / Acts 2:41, and they believed the Gospel, Acts 2:37, and they repented of their sins, Acts 2:38 / Acts 2:41. So what we see here are faith, repentance and baptism. This was how they called upon the Name of the Lord.

The apostle Paul had been taught the Gospel and demonstrated faith and repentance, Acts 22:6-10, again, if calling upon the Name of the Lord simply meant confessing your sinfulness and inviting Jesus into your heart, then surely, Ananias would have told Him to do just that, but he didn’t.

Again, what we see here is faith, repentance and baptism, Acts 9:18. This was how Paul called upon the Name of the Lord. A little later Paul goes on to write about how God saves people from their sins when he writes to the Romans, notice also that he quotes from Joel 2:32 just as Peter did.

Paul says, ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,’ Romans 10:13, but it’s such a shame that many people just read this one verse without reading it in its context.

A careful reading of the text shows us that calling on the Name of the Lord involves hearing and believing the Gospel, Romans 10:14, it involved a change of heart, which is repentance, and it involved publicly confessing faith in Jesus as the Christ, Romans 10:9-10, it involved obeying the commands of the Gospel, Romans 10:16 / Romans 10:19-21.

If calling on the Name of the Lord simply meant confessing your sinfulness and inviting Jesus into your heart, then surely, Paul would have told them to do just that, but he didn’t. Paul after saying, ‘everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved,’ goes on to ask a series of questions which tells us what this phrase means, Romans 10:13-17.

In other words, to call upon the name of the Lord means we must hear the Gospel, believe the Gospel and obey the Gospel. When someone calls upon the name of the Lord, they are simply obeying God’s plan of salvation to hear God’s word, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, repent and be baptized.

As I mentioned earlier, there are thousands of people in the religious world today who believe they are saved because they’ve called upon the name of the Lord, Luke 6:46.

Sadly, saying the name ‘Lord’ won’t save anyone, Matthew 7:21-23, it won’t save anyone unless it’s accompanied by obedience to the Gospel, Mark 16:16 / Matthew 29:19-20.

What does ‘Calling on His Name’ mean? Calling on the name of the Lord means a person asking the Lord by the Lord’s authority to set them free from their sins.

But that can only be done by yielding to His will as it was expressed in his commandments, Matthew 7:21. Calling on His Name needs to be accompanied by obedience to His commandments, Mark 16:16.

When Paul is speaking in Aramaic addresses the crowd, he was giving his testimony and he quotes Jesus’ own words in Acts 22:16. Paul is then baptised and so, in doing so, he was demonstrating that salvation comes through calling on His Name and being obedient to Him in baptism, 1 Peter 3:21.

“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. 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. 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”. Acts 2:22-24

Not one single Jew could deny that Jesus had worked miracles because they had been done in plain view. Most of Jesus’ miracles were performed in public view for a reason, to create belief in Him, John 5:36 / John 10:25 / John 20:30-31 / Hebrews 2:4.

Those miracles should have inspired awe and wonder in the hearts of those who saw them. The miracles of Jesus should have been a clear sign to the Jews that Jesus was more than God’s spokesman, He was also God’s Son.

Some people clearly recognized these displays of God’s power for what they were and believed in the Son, John 4:46-54. Some of the Jews who had gone to comfort Mary after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead believed in Him, John 11:45.

But not everybody was convinced, Matthew records an incident where Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute.

The Pharisees weren’t convinced that Jesus was God’s Son and so looking for an excuse to kill Him, they said it was the devil working these miracles through Jesus, Matthew 12:24.

We find the same thing happening in Mark 3:1-6, when Jesus heals the man with a shrivelled hand, the Jewish leaders refused to believe who He was.

Imagine the look on all those Jewish faces when they finally realise that God knew beforehand that they would actually kill Christ? I wonder if they would have remembered what God said in Genesis 3:15?

If these Jews, who were God’s people, who were so scriptural and spiritual in their thinking, who knew and understood God’s Word so well.

I wonder if they would remember that the Messiah was to be killed and then raised back to life? I wonder if they remembered Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 53:6-12, concerning what would happen when the Messiah came?

“`I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 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. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’” Acts 2:25-28

I wonder if they would have remembered David’s words, as Peter quotes them? The fulfilment of David’s words in Psalm 16:8-11 is fulfilled here when Peter speaks of the resurrection of Christ. After His crucifixion and burial, Jesus’ body didn’t see decay, but He rose from the grave, Acts 13:34-37.

I wonder if they realized that David was speaking about the Christ? There is no doubt that this passage from the Old Testament, prophesies the resurrection of someone. And we know that because it is only by a resurrection that one could descend into the grave and not see decay.

The phrase, ‘the grave’ refers to the place where the ‘body’ ends up. Notice it was Jesus’ ‘body’ which went to the grave, not His soul. It’s obvious that Peter is using David’s psalm to show that Christ’s ‘body’ did not decay. Jesus ‘body’ wasn’t in the grave long enough for it to begin to decay.

Who is David speaking about? We know that Jesus died, we know that His body was laid in a tomb which was given by Joseph of Arimathea. But what we also know is that His spirit went to paradise, Luke 23:43-46.

It’s plain to see that Jesus trusted the Father to reunite his soul with his resurrected body in a powerful display intended to leave no doubt as to the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth.

“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 descendants 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. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” Acts 2:29-32

Peter’s point is that David wasn’t speaking about himself, that’s why he mentions that David’s body saw decay and was still in its grave in the very city of Jerusalem where Peter spoke.

In other words, Peter is saying, that David knew when he wrote of God’s Holy One, he was not speaking of himself but through the voice of prophecy, he was speaking of the promised King who would arise from among his offspring.

Peter and the eleven who stood with him were witnesses of the very resurrection David had foretold. They had seen Jesus in His resurrected body. If anyone could testify that Jesus Christ was now seated on His throne in heaven it was Peter.

How could he prove that Jesus is seated at God’s right side? The proof was the Holy Spirit’s arrival, John 16:5-15. Peter says you want help to understand what has happened here today? Do you remember the great prophet, Joel? Do you remember one of the greatest kings of our history, David?

Peter was hitting these Jews from all sides, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The miraculous events of Acts 2:1-11, when they spoke different tongues, the words of the prophet Joel. The words of the king and prophet David.

Peter was spelling it out to them but Peter wasn’t finished just yet, he had more to say concerning King David.

“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.” Acts 2:33-35

He says to the Jews quoting more words of David, Psalm 110:1. In other words, the Jews had to realize that there was a new King in town but this new King was also Lord over David and He too was to rule from a throne, not on earth, but in heaven. Peter says Jesus is Master and King now.

David in the psalm begins by telling us what the LORD, that is, Yahweh, said to the lord, that is, Adonia, that is, Jesus, David’s lord. Please note the word, ‘lord’ used in the NIV, should have a capital ‘L’. Jesus quotes these words in Matthew 22:43-45 and Mark 12:36-37, to show how David called the Messiah lord, which means that the Messiah was greater than David.

Peter quoted these words here, to show how David prophesied the deity and accession of Jesus. Paul quotes these words in 1 Corinthians 15:25, to demonstrate the rule and dominion of Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews quotes these words in Hebrews 1:13, to explain how Jesus is superior to any angel. Later, in Hebrews 10:13, the writer quotes these words again to explain the rule and dominion of Jesus.

The LORD, that is God, the Father, spoke to the Messiah, that is, Jesus the Son, and told Him He would sit at His right hand until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet, Ephesians 1:20 / Hebrews 8:1. In other words, Jesus would remain there until the Father provided the victory, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 / Hebrews 2:8.

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36

Just in case they thought Peter was the one giving out all this authority, he tells them, the very One they had crucified he says, has now been placed by God in the position of authority.

Peter had opened up two separate prophecies of David before their very eyes. He has presented the testimony of reliable witnesses who had seen the resurrected Lord. He had called his listeners’ attention to the unique events of the day, which had to have originated from heaven itself through the workings of God’s Spirit.

Peter could look out of the temple area onto Jerusalem and say to the Jews, ‘look there lays King David, a faithful and devout follower of God.’ He could dig his grave up and they would find his remains.

The Jews can’t argue with Peter, because if Jesus’ tomb still contained Jesus’ remains, then surely they would have argued that case. The Jews would have thrown the remainder of Jesus’ bones down on the ground before Peter and said, ‘you see, this Jesus’ body is still here just like David’s.

They didn’t because they couldn’t because if they were to go to the place where Jesus was buried they would read this inscription, ‘Jesus has risen from the dead.’

It’s hard to imagine just how stunned some in Peter’s audience must have been. The Jews thought that they had heard the last of this Jesus when they crucified Him.

They were probably thinking, that’s that Jesus, the One who wants us to believe He was the Messiah, that’s Him dealt with, now we can get on and celebrate the Pentecost in peace and go home.

But God had different plans, and Peter full of God’s Spirit had different plans. The man whom the Jews recognized as a Galilean and likely viewed him as an uneducated person who had just presented a compelling argument in which he tells them that they murdered the Son of God.

Out of all the crimes you could commit, killing the Messiah was to be the worst. Peter’s presentation was so powerful not because he was an intellect, not because he had a good education but because of the ‘Comforter’, or ‘Helper’, or ‘Advocate,’ because of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit used undeniable truths to show Jesus was the Son of God despite the Jews’ accusations to the contrary, John 16:8-11. The evidence presented by Peter on Pentecost, as delivered to him by the Comforter, truly convicted many in his audience. It was so powerful, Luke says it cut the Jews to the heart.

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37

Do you remember in Matthew 16:19, what Jesus promised to Peter? Jesus promised Peter, ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’

And do you remember Jesus’ words on the cross in Luke 23:34? Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’.

Both these passages find the beginning of their fulfilment in Acts 2:38. The Holy Spirit, through Peter, had already identified those in the crowd as those who had used lawless hands to crucify God’s Son.

Talk about panic stations, they were probably waiting on heaven to open up and swallowing them whole because of what they had done. They were probably waiting on one of God’s angels to come down to slay them all because of what they had done.

And it’s then that some of them start to panic and ask Peter, ‘what they must do to be saved’. And so Peter tells them what they must do to be saved.

“Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall 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.” Acts 2:38-39

Now can you imagine the Jews’ response to that? Can you imagine what is going on in their minds?

We have just killed the Messiah, who was God in the flesh and you’re talking about forgiveness! We have just murdered the Creator of the Universe on a cross and He wants to give us a gift! This is all about the love of God, Ephesians 3:18.

Peter says there are two requirements to receive this forgiveness of sins and the first one is repentance. Repenting involves a change of will or mind and repentance are more than feeling sorry for what we have done, it’s more than feeling sorry for ourselves, Matthew 21:28-32.

Repentance involves a deep sorrow for our actions, it involves deep sorrow when we realize that we have deeply hurt God with our actions, 2 Corinthians 7:10. When someone genuinely repents of sin they don’t want to go out and commit that sin again because they know that God doesn’t like it and they don’t want to hurt God.

Peter tells them the second requirement to receive forgiveness of sins, he commands them to be baptised. Unlike the baptism of the Holy Spirit which the apostles and Cornelius’ household received, they were to be baptised in water.

Baptism is a dipping, plunging, immersing or overwhelming and the Jews had no problems understanding what baptism was. It is a funeral service, baptism is a burial, Colossians 2:12. Peter tells us, that baptism is the means of one’s calling on God to cleanse him based upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, 1 Peter 3:21.

Notice also that repentance and baptism were to be done in the Name of Jesus. In other words, they were to be baptized resting on His name, submitting to His authority, depending on Him as Saviour and Lord, Acts 4:12. The point is, that repentance and baptism under the authority of Jesus was to receive the promised result of the forgiveness of sins.

Adam and Eve were truly blessed to have God walking in their midst in the Garden of Eden. The Israelites were truly blessed to have God dwell in the tabernacle. They were truly blessed when He dwelt in Solomon’s temple. But these early Christians were going to be blessed even more.

Peter says when a person, repents and is then baptised for the forgiveness of their sins, they will receive the gift, not gifts, of the Holy Spirit. In other words, God was not going to dwell in a tent or a temple anymore, He was going to dwell within the hearts of His people.

Gift, Not Gifts

It is this second promise that many Christians find difficult to understand. Notice, therefore, that Peter spoke of the ‘gift’ not ‘gifts’ of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 2:38 the word ‘gift’ is the word ‘dorea’, which is accurately defined as ‘free gift’. One translation renders it rather expressively as, ‘the plus of the Holy Spirit’.

The word describes the Holy Spirit Himself as the extra gift provided by God, for those who obey the Gospel. Thus, Acts 2:38 doesn’t refer to some sort of miraculous or spiritual gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit.

It tells us that the Holy Spirit Himself is the Heavenly Father’s own gift to His obedient people, given to enable them to live a successful and satisfying Christian life.

The Gifts

When, later, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about ‘spiritual gifts’, he was dealing with a very different subject. In 1 Corinthians 12-14, the nine gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit are described as ‘charisma’, or ‘grace gifts’, and it is important to distinguish between the Holy Spirit as God’s own gift, and the miraculous gifts which, in the New Testament age, the Spirit Himself bestowed.

Please notice. ­

1. The ‘charismata’ were various miraculous abilities or endowments, which the Holy Spirit Himself gave to individual believers, according to His own will, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

2. Believers did not all receive the same gift(s), 1 Corinthians 12:29-30.

3. Nor were these gifts intended to last, 1 Corinthians 13:8.

4. In contrast, the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’ is the gift of God Himself, offered to every obedient believer, Acts 5:32.

5. All are offered the same gift, the indwelling presence of the His Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19 / Romans 8:9.

6. And, along with salvation, the gift of the Spirit’s presence will continue to be offered until the end of the Christian Age, Acts 2:39.

The Purpose Of The Gift

What will this ‘gift’ do for us? This is a question worthy of a separate study but think about just two aspects of His ministry.

A. The Holy Spirit is described as the ‘Comforter’, John 14:26. That English word comes to us from the Latin, ‘con fortis’, which literally means, ‘with strength’. Thus, the Holy Spirit strengthens us. We need to learn to lean on Him.

B. The Holy Spirit helps us when we pray, taking our faltering, stumbling petitions and presenting them to the Father, as our intercessor, Romans 8:26-27. We should make use of His intercession.

That promise wasn’t just for the Jews and their children, it is for us and our children today. That was one lesson that Peter had to learn, after the supernatural events of Cornelius and his household, Acts 10:34.

The Spirit is ready to give life to anyone who will submit to God. Because when a person submits to the will of God through repentance and baptism, God comes to live in them in the form of the Spirit. And it’s then and only then that an individual’s body is his temple, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Please note, if there is no repentance, then there is no gift of the Holy Spirit, if there is no baptism for the forgiveness of sins, then there is no gift of the Holy Spirit.

“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”. Acts 2:40-41

Peter’s warning and his plea stand just as strong today as it was first heard through the lips of Peter just over 2000 years ago. People need to save themselves from this wicked generation in which we live today.

We need to remember that when we preach and teach from the Word of God we are really preaching and teaching the very words of Christ Himself.

And that day when Peter preached the very first Gospel sermon, he was preaching the words given him by Jesus Himself. When 3000 souls accepted Peter’s words and were baptised, they were actually accepting Christ and His words, John 13:20. And because they received the Lord’s words, they were added together in the kingdom.

There were several pools in Jerusalem and so it was possible to baptise 3000 people in a short period of time. At 9:00 am Peter starts speaking by 10:00 am they start baptising and by 3:00, they would have finished.

Remember back in Exodus, after everything God has done for Israel, only the tribe of Levi said, ‘we are on God’s side’. And so after each man chose the side they wanted to be on, Moses then gives the orders to have all the people who did not choose God to be killed right there on the spot.

The Bible says that 3000 men were killed that day due to their rebellion against God Almighty Himself, Exodus 32:26-29.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about this because it really is the beginning of the Mosaic age in the Bible. The law was about to be introduced by God through Moses and 3000 souls died on the very day it was introduced, John 1:17.

Now, what happened when grace and truth appeared through Jesus? The law could only highlight people’s sins but the law couldn’t save people from their sins, but Jesus can, Titus 2:11.

And so when the law was introduced on that day at Sinai when the Mosaic age began, 3000 souls died but what happened when grace and truth came through Jesus? What happened on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached grace and truth?

Don’t you find that incredible that when the Mosaic age began 3000 souls died, but when grace and truth appeared when the Christian age began 3000 souls were saved?

We can read into that as much or as little as we want, I just going to say that I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe that number of souls being saved at 3000 is just some random number, I believe this was another reminder to those Jews who didn’t get saved on Pentecost of the consequences of not being obedient to God and His ways.

The Bible nowhere teaches that we join the church, the Bible says that the ‘Lord adds us to His church.’ A few verses later Luke tells us the same thing, Acts 2:47.

We don’t join the Lord’s church like it’s some sort of association or club, the Lord adds us to His church. It is so important to realize that the Lord is the one who is responsible for bringing forth fruit, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7.

What Luke records next for us is so important for us to understand and take note of. These baby Christians, just a few hours old, began to do something which would influence the rest of their Christian lives.

They are about to be taught so that they go on and teach others as Jesus commanded, Matthew 28:18-20 / 2 Timothy 2:2. And what we see happening next is that very thing, the apostles began to teach Jesus’ disciples.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42

We should note that the word, ‘the’, should be before the word prayers, as it is with the other activities mentioned here. Luke tells us that 5 things dominate the life of a Christian.

1. We need to sit at the feet of the church’s teachers and learn.

2. We need to be around other Christians as much as we can, not just on Sundays.

3. We need to come together with other saints to partake of the Lord’s Supper every week.

4. We need to be praying.

5. We need to learn to give.

What was the first fundamental truth they taught them? The apostles taught them the importance of meeting together to learn from God’s Word, 2 Peter 3:18.

In other words, they were to start as they mean to go on. We can’t just baptize someone and then leave them to it, we need to teach them, baptize them and then teach them again, Matthew 28:18-20. We need to teach people the importance of obeying God’s Word.

We need to share with them that they can’t be a strong Christian on their own, they need to be around other Christians to give encouragement and receive encouragement, Hebrews 10:24-25.

Fellowship is all about being part of a family, living together as a family, and sharing as a family. The word fellowship in Greek is ‘koinonia’ and it means receiving and giving in partnership. And so, these young Christians weren’t just added to the church, they were added to a family.

We also need to let them know that our memories are pretty poor but we must never forget what Christ has done for us all by partaking of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, Luke 22:19-20.

When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He knew very well that we humans are prone to forget. And that’s one of the reasons He asked us to come together as a family to remember Him every Lord’s Day.

When we partake of the Supper we’re proclaiming to the world, who we are and to Whom we belong. We’re proclaiming to the world that Jesus died for us and one day He’s coming back to take us home, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

When we’re talking about, ‘the prayers’, we’re not talking about an opening prayer or a closing prayer in worship, we’re talking about the prayers of the church. When the early church met, they set aside some time solely for praying, kind of like what we do during our prayer meetings.

Remember Jesus’ own disciples didn’t know how to pray and so they asked Jesus to teach them. And I’m sure that the apostles would have taught these young Christians how to pray.

We need to demonstrate how important communication with the Father is, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. That attitude should be the pattern for the rest of our Christian lives. Because when that is our pattern, we are going to love and enjoy being around those people who share in that same pattern.

To us today, these things which are happening here may not be a big deal but when we put ourselves in the shoes of these Jews, we learn something new.

They had never been involved in the breaking of the bread before. This is an obvious reference to the Lord’s Supper, Acts 20:7, since there would be nothing remarkable about new Christians continuing to eat.

Think about their past prayer life, in Judaism, prayers were offered at stated times of the day, these first Christians offered prayers at any and all times, and in any and all places. And because of this holy example of living, together with the miracles worked by the apostles, caused the surrounding community to be in awe.

“Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” Acts 2:43-45

Notice another important lesson the apostle’s taught them. God’s presence filled them with awe. The word ‘awe’ means ‘fear’, and Luke tells us that everyone was frightened because the presence of God was shown through the apostles and the miracles they did.

Remember these first Christians would have been alienated from the Jewish society, they’re now outcasts from the Jewish religion. So, in a very real sense, the church had become a support group. As a new family, they met together, they recognised there is strength in coming together. And notice that ‘all’ of them were together, not just some but all.

The phrase, ‘everything in common’ means they saw themselves as a body with one common bond, Ephesians 4:4-6. They enjoyed each other’s company and gladly shared their material possessions when anyone who had need. In other words, they taught them the importance of giving, Acts 20:35.

The church did something that had never been done before in this way, ‘they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.’

Isn’t it interesting that they prepared themselves spiritually first before they did something absolutely alien? Why did they sell their properties and their possessions? Who are those who had a need?

Selling your property wasn’t a strange idea in Biblical times you could sell your property but not permanently because the original owner had the right to buy back the land he sold, Leviticus 25:23-24.

But here in this new kingdom, things have changed, they sold their property and their possessions with no buy-back clause, because there is no buyback cause in Christ’s kingdom.

They sold their properties and their possessions because there was a need. The Day of Pentecost was one the busiest times of the year and people would come prepared to stay a few days and go home. They would bring their young children with them and maybe some relatives.

We all budget for our holidays, we make sure we have enough money to cover all the costs and maybe take a little extra for emergencies. With all the events surrounding the apostles and the church is established, people have used up their trip budget.

People have stayed longer to see what’s going on, these new Christians have stayed longer than they planned and so there is a need. There’s a need to supply the basics, like food and water and maybe somewhere to stay.

These first Christians did everything they could to help meet the needs of everyone and anyone who was in need, Galatians 6:10. They’ve just become Christians and straightaway they’re learning the blessing of giving and sharing.

We should be a giving people, not just of our lives to God, but also of our riches. It’s not so much the amount we give but the attitude within our hearts when we do give. Paul says he wants us to set aside a sum of money within our income, 1 Corinthians 16:2.

We should what we have decided to give because God loves a cheerful giver, 2 Corinthians 9:7. God doesn’t want us to give so much that we can’t pay our bills and end up starving ourselves, but at the same time, if He has blessed us with a good income, He does expect us to give to the His work.

“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 favour of all the people.” Acts 2:46-47

Unlike the world today where most people live miles away from each other and we live such busy schedules, these first converts were in the temple daily.

But notice, they also spent time together on a daily basis, as ‘breaking bread from house to house’ would seem to indicate. Their daily getting together and sharing of food was done out of hearts filled with ‘extreme joy’.

When these early Christians praised God for the forgiveness of sins and the community of believers of which he had made them a part of, the other people who lived in Jerusalem found them to be an acceptable group and so Luke goes on to say, that the Lord added to their number.

When we get together for whatever the occasion and people see us enjoying each other’s company and they can see salvation in our lives, people are going to be attracted to the light. Because today as followers of our Jesus Christ, if we give ourselves over to daily study, sharing, meeting together and if our hearts are filled with extreme joy and simplicity.

Think about the adjustments these new Christians had to make in their lives. They used to follow all the laws and decrees of God from the Old Testament but now they don’t.

They’ve been told time and time again that the Gentiles and Greeks are unclean and people to be avoided but now they’re worshipping together and enjoying fellowship with the very people they were once told to avoid.

They used to meet on the Sabbath for worship but now they’re meeting on the Lord’s Day for worship. They’ve been worshipping God on the Sabbath for centuries and they’re used to getting up on Saturday mornings for worship.

Imagine them being used to going to the temple for worship but now they can worship wherever they like with like-minded people. They’ve been cast out from their Jewish family and been embraced by their new Christian family. But they’re helping and supporting each other as a family should, as a church should.

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