Acts 2:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

New Living Translation
Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.

English Standard Version
And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

Berean Study Bible
They saw tongues like flames of a fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

Berean Literal Bible
And there appeared to them dividing tongues as of fire and sat upon each one of them.

New American Standard Bible
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.

King James Bible
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

International Standard Version
They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated, and one rested on each of them.

NET Bible
And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them.

New Heart English Bible
Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one sat on each of them.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And tongues like fire that were divided appeared to them, and they sat on each one of them.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Tongues that looked like fire appeared to them. The tongues arranged themselves so that one came to rest on each believer.

New American Standard 1977
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

King James 2000 Bible
And there appeared unto them separated tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

American King James Version
And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.

American Standard Version
And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them:

Darby Bible Translation
And there appeared to them parted tongues, as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them.

English Revised Version
And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them.

Webster's Bible Translation
And there appeared to them, cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Weymouth New Testament
and they saw tongues of what looked like fire distributing themselves over the assembly, and on the head of each person a tongue alighted.

World English Bible
Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one sat on each of them.

Young's Literal Translation
and there appeared to them divided tongues, as it were of fire; it sat also upon each one of them,
Study Bible
The Holy Spirit at Pentecost
2Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw tongues like flames of a fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.…
Cross References
Matthew 3:11
I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me will come One more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Acts 2:2
Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Acts 2:4
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Treasury of Scripture

And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.

cloven.

Acts 2:4,11 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak …

Genesis 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one …

Psalm 55:9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence …

1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another …

Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting …

like.

Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean …

Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? said the LORD; and like a hammer that …

Malachi 3:2,3 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when …

Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water to repentance. but he that comes …

Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while …

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among …

Revelation 11:3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy …

sat.

Acts 1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the middle of the disciples, and said…

Isaiah 11:2,3 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom …

Matthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus …

John 1:32,33 And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven …

(3) Lastly, the Feast of Pentecost had--traditionally, at least--also a commemorative character. On that day--so it was computed by the later Rabbis, though the Book of Exodus (Exodus 19:1) seems to leave the matter in some uncertainty--the Israelites had encamped round Sinai, and there had been thunders and darkness and voices, and the great Laws had been proclaimed. It was, that is, an epoch-making day in the religious history of Israel. It was fit that it should be chosen for another great epoch-making day, which, seeming at first to be meant for Israel only, was intended ultimately for mankind.

Was fully come.--Literally, was being accomplished. The word seems chosen to express the fact that the meeting of the disciples was either on the vigil of the Feast-day, or in the early dawn. Assuming the Passover to have occurred on the night of the Last Supper, the Day of Pentecost would fall on the first day of the week, beginning, of course, at the sunset of the Sabbath. So the Churches of East and West have commemorated the day as on the eighth Sunday after Easter. In the Latin nations the name of Pentecost remains scarcely altered. The Pfingst of the Germans shows it still surviving in a very contracted form. Some eminent scholars have thought that our Whitsun-day represents it after a still more altered form, and that this is a more probable etymology of the word than those which connect it with the white garments worn on that day by newly-baptised converts, or with the gift of "wit, or wisdom."

With one accord in one place.--Probably in the same large upper room as in Acts 1:13. We may reasonably think of the same persons as being present. The hour, we may infer from Acts 2:15, was early in the morning, and probably followed on a night of prayer. It is said, indeed, that devout Jews used to solemnise the vigil of Pentecost by a special thanksgiving to God for giving His Law to Israel; and this may well have been the occasion that brought the disciples together (Schttgen, Hor. Hebr. in Acts 2:1). It was, in the mystic language of the Rabbis, the night on which the Law, as the Bride, was espoused to Israel, as the Bridegroom. The frequent occurrence of the Greek word for "with one accord" (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46; Acts 4:24; Acts 5:12) is significant as showing the impression made on the writer by the exceptional unity of the new society. Outside the Acts it is found only in Romans 15:16.

(3) There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire.--Better, and tongues as of fire were seen by them, parted among them. The word translated "cloven" cannot possibly have that meaning. It is not uncommon (e.g., Acts 2:45; Matthew 27:35; Luke 22:17; and John 19:24), and is always used in the sense of dividing or distributing. What the disciples saw would, perhaps, be best described in modern phrase as a shower of fiery tongues, coming they knew not whence, lighting for a moment on each head, and then vanishing. The verb "it (sc., a tongue of fire) sat upon" is in the tense which expresses momentary, not continuous, action.

Verse 3. - Tongues parting asunder for cloven tongues, A.V.; each one for each, A.V. There appeared. They had heard the sound, now they see the tongues of fire, and then they feel the Spirit working in them (see ver. 34). Tongues parting asunder. The idea of the cloven tongue, i.e. a tongue parted into two, which is thought to have been the origin of the miter, is not suggested either by the Greek or by the circumstances, and is clearly a mistaken one. Διαμεριζόμεναι means distributing themselves or being distributed. From the central apparition, or rather place of sound, they saw issuing forth many several tongues, looking like small flames of fire, and one such tongue sat upon each one of the brethren or disciples present. Each one. That Chrysostom is right ('Hom.'4.) in interpreting the each one of this verse of the hundred and twenty, and not of the twelve, and the ell in ver. 4 of all present besides the apostles, may be demonstrated. For not only must the all of ver. 1 refer to the same company as was described in the preceding chapter (vers. 15-26), but it is quite clear in ver. 15 of this chapter that Peter and the eleven (ver. 14), standing up separate from the body of the disciples, say of them, "These are not drunken, as ye suppose;" which is a demonstration that those of whom they thus spoke had been speaking with tongues (see also Acts 10:44). St. Augustine, too, says that the hundred and twenty all received the Holy Spirit. To the same effect Meyer, Wordsworth, Alford (who adds, "Not the hundred and twenty only, but all the believers in Christ then congregated at Jerusalem;" so also Lange). Farrar well remarks, "It was the consecration of a whole Church to be all of them a chosen generation, a royal priest- hood, a holy nation, a peculiar people" ('Life of St. Paul,' Acts 5.). Lange says, "Not only the apostles, but all the disciples, were filled with the Holy Ghost. There is a universal priesthood of all believers, and the Holy Ghost is the anointing which consecrates and qualifies for this priesthood" ('On the Acts,' Clark's edit., p. 67). And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire,.... An emblem of the various tongues and languages, in which they were to preach the Gospel; these appearances were like flames of fire parted, and these parted flames looked like tongues; so, a flame of fire is with, the Jews called, , "a tongue of fire", Isaiah 5:24 hence the Apostle James compares a tongue to fire, James 3:6 this was the baptism with fire, John the Baptist speaks of; see Gill on Matthew 3:11; and the Jews say (t),

"the holy blessed God baptizeth with fire, and the wise shall understand.

Through this baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, the apostles became more knowing, and had a greater understanding of the mysteries of the Gospel, and were more qualified to preach it to people of all nations and languages. The Holy Spirit, in his gifts and graces, is compared to fire, because of its purity, light, and heat, as well as consuming nature; the Spirit sanctifies, and makes men pure and holy, purges from the dross of sin, error and superstition; and enlightens the minds of men, and gives them knowledge of divine and spiritual things; and fills them with zeal and fervour for the glory of God and Christ, and the good of his church and interest, and for the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel; as well as fortifies them against their enemies, whom he consumes, according to Zechariah 2:5 a passage of Scripture the Jews make use of in an uncommon sense; for they say (u), that as

"Jerusalem was destroyed by fire, "by fire it shall be built again"; as it is said, Zechariah 2:5 "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about".

The pouring forth of the Spirit upon the apostles, in this form of cloven tongues, as of fire, was indeed the means of rebuilding Jerusalem, in a spiritual sense; or of founding the Gospel church state in the world:

and it sat upon each of them; the fire, or the Holy Ghost in the appearance of fire. The Syriac and Arabic versions read, "and they sat upon each of them"; and so Beza's most ancient copy; that is, the cloven tongues sat on them; either one upon one of them and another upon another, or many upon each of them: where they sat, whether on their lips, or on their heads, it not certain, probably on the latter; nor how long they sat; however, their sitting upon them may denote the continuance of the gifts and graces of the Spirit with them. These cloven tongues cannot but bring to mind the division and confusion of the tongues or languages at Babel; which gave rise to different nations, and different religions; but these divided tongues gave rise to the spreading of the Gospel, and settling the true religion among the nations of the world. The Jews (w) seem to have respect to this account, when they tell us of.

"lights from above, that came forth and dwelt in the synagogues, "on the heads" of those that prayed, and the lights "were divided" upon their heads.

(t) R. Menachem in Leviticus 8.apud Ainsworth in Genesis 17.12. (u) T. Hieros. Taaniot, fol. 65. 3. Seder Tepillot, fol. 23. 2. Ed. Basil. (w) Zohar in Num. fol. 79. 2.3. cloven tongues, like as of fire, etc.—"disparted tongues," that is, tongue-shaped, flame-like appearances, rising from a common center or root, and resting upon each of that large company:—beautiful visible symbol of the burning energy of the Spirit now descending in all His plenitude upon the Church, and about to pour itself through every tongue, and over every tribe of men under heaven!2:1-4 We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them there were strifes among the disciples which should be the greatest; but now all these strifes were at an end. They had prayed more together of late. Would we have the Spirit poured out upon us from on high, let us be all of one accord. And notwithstanding differences of sentiments and interests, as there were among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. A rushing mighty wind came with great force. This was to signify the powerful influences and working of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, and thereby upon the world. Thus the convictions of the Spirit make way for his comforts; and the rough blasts of that blessed wind, prepare the soul for its soft and gentle gales. There was an appearance of something like flaming fire, lighting on every one of them, according to John Baptist's saying concerning Christ; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. The Spirit, like fire, melts the heart, burns up the dross, and kindles pious and devout affections in the soul; in which, as in the fire on the altar, the spiritual sacrifices are offered up. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than before. They were filled with the graces of the Spirit, and more than ever under his sanctifying influences; more weaned from this world, and better acquainted with the other. They were more filled with the comforts of the Spirit, rejoiced more than ever in the love of Christ and the hope of heaven: in it all their griefs and fears were swallowed up. They were filled with the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they had miraculous powers for the furtherance of the gospel. They spake, not from previous though or meditation, but as the Spirit gave them utterance.
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