Acts 2:2
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
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(2) Each aspect of the old Feast of Weeks, now known as Pentecost, or the “Fiftieth-day” Feast, presented a symbolic meaning which made it, in greater or less measure, typical of the work now about to be accomplished. It was the “feast of harvest, the feast of the firstfruits;” and so it was meet that it should witness the first great gathering of the fields that were white to harvest (Exodus 23:16). It was one on which, more than on any other, the Israelite was to remember that he had been a bondsman in the land of Egypt, and had been led forth to freedom (Deuteronomy 16:12), and on it, accordingly, they were to do no servile work (Leviticus 23:31); and it was, therefore, a fit time for the gift of the Spirit, of whom it was emphatically true that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2Corinthians 3:17), and who was to guide the Church into the truth which should make men free indeed (John 8:32). It was a day on which sacrifices of every kind were offered—burnt offerings, and sin offerings, and meat offerings, and peace offerings—and so represented the consecration of body, soul, and spirit as a spiritual sacrifice (Leviticus 23:17-20). As on the Passover the first ripe sheaf of corn was waved before Jehovah as the type of the sacrifice of Christ, of the corn of wheat which is not quickened except it die (Leviticus 23:10; John 12:24), so on Pentecost two wave-loaves of fine flour were to be offered, the type, it may be, under the light now thrown on them, of the Jewish and the Gentile Churches (Leviticus 23:17). And these loaves were to be leavened, as a witness that the process of the contact of mind with mind, which—as the prohibition of leaven in the Passover ritual bore witness—is naturally so fruitful in evil, might yet, under a higher influence, become one of unspeakable good: the new life working through the three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. (See Note on Matthew 13:33.)

(2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven. . . .—The description reminds us of the “sound of a trumpet” (Exodus 19:19; Hebrews 12:19) on Sinai, of the “great and strong wind” that rent the mountains on Horeb (1Kings 19:11). Such a wind was now felt and heard, even as the wind, the breath, the Spirit of God, had moved upon the face of the waters, quickening them into life (Genesis 1:2).

A rushing mighty wind.—Better, a mighty breath borne onwards, so as to connect the English, as the Greek is connected, with St. Peter’s words that, “holy men of old spake as they were moved (literally, borne on) by the Holy Ghost” (2Peter 1:21). The Greek word for “wind” is not that commonly so translated (anemos), but one from the same root as the Greek for “Spirit” (Pnoè and Pneuma—both from Pneô, “I breathe”), and rendered “breath” in Acts 17:25. It is obviously chosen here as being better fitted than the more common word for the supernatural inbreathing of which they were conscious, and which to many must have recalled the moment when their Lord had “breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). Now, once more, they felt that light yet awful breathing which wrought every nerve to ecstasy; and it filled “the whole house,” as if in token of the wide range over which the new spiritual power was to extend its working, even unto the whole Church, which is the House of God (1Timothy 3:15), and to the uttermost parts of the earth.




Acts 2:2 - Acts 2:3
, Acts 2:17. - 1 John 2:20.

Wind, fire, water, oil,-these four are constant Scriptural symbols for the Spirit of God. We have them all in these fragments of verses which I have taken for my text now, and which I have isolated from their context for the purpose of bringing out simply these symbolical references. I think that perhaps we may get some force and freshness to the thoughts proper to this day [Footnote: Whit Sunday.] by looking at these rather than by treating the subject in some more abstract form. We have then the Breath of the Spirit, the Fire of the Spirit, the Water of the Spirit, and the Anointing Oil of the Spirit. And the consideration of these four will bring out a great many of the principal Scriptural ideas about the gift of the Spirit of God which belongs to all Christian souls.

I. First, ‘a rushing mighty wind.’

Of course, the symbol is but the putting into picturesque form of the idea that lies in the name. ‘Spirit’ is ‘breath.’ Wind is but air in motion. Breath is the synonym for life. ‘Spirit’ and ‘life’ are two words for one thing. So then, in the symbol, the ‘rushing mighty wind,’ we have set forth the highest work of the Spirit-the communication of a new and supernatural life.

We are carried hack to that grand vision of the prophet who saw the bones lying, very many and very dry, sapless and disintegrated, a heap dead and ready to rot. The question comes to him: ‘Son of man! Can these bones live?’ The only possible answer, if he consult experience, is, ‘O Lord God! Thou knowest.’ Then follows the great invocation: ‘Come from the four winds, O Breath! and breathe upon these slain that they may live.’ And the Breath comes and ‘they stand up, an exceeding great army.’ ‘It is the Spirit that quickeneth.’ The Scripture treats us all as dead, being separated from God, unless we are united to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. According to the saying of the Evangelist, ‘They which believe on Him receive’ the Spirit, and thereby receive the life which He gives, or, as our Lord Himself speaks, are ‘born of the Spirit.’ The highest and most characteristic office of the Spirit of God is to enkindle this new life, and hence His noblest name, among the many by which He is called, is the Spirit of life.

Again, remember, ‘that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ If there be life given it must be kindred with the life which is its source. Reflect upon those profound words of our Lord: ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth. So is every one that is born of the Spirit.’ They describe first the operation of the life-giving Spirit, but they describe also the characteristics of the resulting life.

‘The wind bloweth where it listeth.’ That spiritual life, both in the divine source and in the human recipient, is its own law. Of course the wind has its laws, as every physical agent has; but these are so complicated and undiscovered that it has always been the very symbol of freedom, and poets have spoken of these ‘chartered libertines,’ the winds, and ‘free as the air’ has become a proverb. So that Divine Spirit is limited by no human conditions or laws, but dispenses His gifts in superb disregard of conventionalities and externalisms. Just as the lower gift of what we call ‘genius’ is above all limits of culture or education or position, and falls on a wool-stapler in Stratford-on-Avon, or on a ploughman in Ayrshire, so, in a similar manner, the altogether different gift of the divine, life-giving Spirit follows no lines that Churches or institutions draw. It falls upon an Augustinian monk in a convent, and he shakes Europe. It falls upon a tinker in Bedford gaol, and he writes Pilgrim’s Progress. It falls upon a cobbler in Kettering, and he founds modern Christian missions. It blows ‘where it listeth,’ sovereignly indifferent to the expectations and limitations and the externalisms, even of organised Christianity, and touching this man and that man, not arbitrarily but according to ‘the good pleasure’ that is a law to itself, because it is perfect in wisdom and in goodness.

And as thus the life-giving Spirit imparts Himself according to higher laws than we can grasp, so in like manner the life that is derived from it is a life which is its own law. The Christian conscience, touched by the Spirit of God, owes allegiance to no regulations or external commandments laid down by man. The Christian conscience, enlightened by the Spirit of God, at its peril will take its beliefs from any other than from that Divine Spirit. All authority over conduct, all authority over belief is burnt up and disappears in the presence of the grand democracy of the true Christian principle: ‘Ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’; and every one of you possesses the Spirit which teaches, the Spirit which inspires, the Spirit which enlightens, the Spirit which is the guide to all truth. So ‘the wind bloweth where it listeth,’ and the voice of that Divine Quickener is,

‘Myself shall to My darling be

Both law and impulse.’

Under the impulse derived from the Divine Spirit, the human spirit ‘listeth’ what is right, and is bound to follow the promptings of its highest desires. Those men only are free as the air we breathe, who are vitalised by the Spirit of the Lord, for ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there,’ and there alone, ‘is liberty.’

In this symbol there lies not only the thought of a life derived, kindred with the life bestowed, and free like the life which is given, but there lies also the idea of power. The wind which filled the house was not only mighty but ‘borne onward’-fitting type of the strong impulse by which in olden times ‘holy men spake as they were “borne onward”‘ {the word is the same} ‘by the Holy Ghost.’ There are diversities of operations, but it is the same breath of God, which sometimes blows in the softest pianissimo that scarcely rustles the summer woods in the leafy month of June, and sometimes storms in wild tempest that dashes the seas against the rocks. So this mighty lif-giving Agent moves in gentleness and yet in power, and sometimes swells and rises almost to tempest, but is ever the impelling force of all that is strong and true and fair in Christian hearts and lives.

The history of the world, since that day of Pentecost, has been a commentary upon the words of my text. With viewless, impalpable energy, the mighty breath of God swept across the ancient world and ‘laid the lofty city’ of paganism ‘low; even to the ground, and brought it even to the dust.’ A breath passed over the whole civilised world, like the breath of the west wind upon the glaciers in the spring, melting the thick-ribbed ice, and wooing forth the flowers, and the world was made over again. In our own hearts and lives this is the one Power that will make us strong and good. The question is all-important for each of us, ‘Have I this life, and does it move me, as the ships are borne along by the wind?’ ‘As many as are impelled by the Spirit of God, they’-they-’are the sons of God.’ Is that the breath that swells all the sails of your lives, and drives you upon your course? If it be, you are Christians; if it be not, you are not.

II. And now a word as to the second of these symbols-’Cloven tongues as of fire’-the fire of the Spirit.

I need not do more than remind you how frequently that emblem is employed both in the Old and in the New Testament. John the Baptist contrasted the cold negative efficiency of his baptism, which at its best, was but a baptism of repentance, with the quickening power of the baptism of Him who was to follow him; when he said, ‘I indeed baptise you with water, but He that cometh after me is mightier than I. He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.’ The two words mean but one thing, the fire being the emblem of the Spirit.

You will remember, too, how our Lord Himself employs the same metaphor when He speaks about His coming to bring fire on the earth, and His longing to see it kindled into a beneficent blaze. In this connection the fire is a symbol of a quick, triumphant energy, which will transform us into its own likeness. There are two sides to that emblem: one destructive, one creative; one wrathful, one loving. There are the fire of love, and the fire of anger. There is the fire of the sunshine which is the condition of life, as well as the fire of the lightning which burns and consumes. The emblem of fire is selected to express the work of the Spirit of God, by reason of its leaping, triumphant, transforming energy. See, for instance, how, when you kindle a pile of dead green-wood, the tongues of fire spring from point to point until they have conquered the whole mass, and turned it all into a ruddy likeness of the parent flame. And so here, this fire of God, if it fall upon you, will burn up all your coldness, and will make you glow with enthusiasm, working your intellectual convictions in fire not in frost, making your creed a living power in your lives, and kindling you into a flame of earnest consecration.

The same idea is expressed by the common phrases of every language. We speak of the fervour of love, the warmth of affection, the blaze of enthusiasm, the fire of emotion, the coldness of indifference. Christians are to be set on fire of God. If the Spirit dwell in us, He will make us fiery like Himself, even as fire turns the wettest green-wood into fire. We have more than enough of cold Christians who are afraid of nothing so much as of being betrayed into warm emotion.

I believe, dear brethren, and I am bound to express the belief, that one of the chief wants of the Christian Church of this generation, the Christian Church of this city, the Christian Church of this chapel, is more of the fire of God! We are all icebergs compared with what we ought to be. Look at yourselves; never mind about your brethren. Let each of us look at his own heart, and say whether there is any trace in his Christianity of the power of that Spirit who is fire. Is our religion flame or ice? Where among us are to be found lives blazing with enthusiastic devotion and earnest love? Do not such words sound like mockery when applied to us? Have we not to listen to that solemn old warning that never loses its power, and, alas! seems never to lose its appropriateness: ‘Because thou art neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.’ We ought to be like the burning beings before God’s throne, the seraphim, the spirits that blaze and serve. We ought to be like God Himself, all aflame with love. Let us seek penitently for that Spirit of fire who will dwell in us all if we will.

The metaphor of fire suggests also-purifying. ‘The Spirit of burning’ will burn the filth out of us. That is the only way by which a man can ever be made clean. You may wash and wash and wash with the cold water of moral reformation, you will never get the dirt out with it. No washing and no rubbing will ever cleanse sin. The way to purge a soul is to do with it as they do with foul clay-thrust it into the fire and that will burn all the blackness out of it. Get the love of God into your hearts, and the fire of His Divine Spirit into your spirits to melt you down, as it were, and then the scum and the dross will come to the top, and you can skim them off. Two powers conquer my sin: the one is the blood of Jesus Christ, which washes me from all the guilt of the past; the other is the fiery influence of that Divine Spirit which makes me pure and clean for all the time to come. Pray to be kindled with the fire of God.

III. Then once more, take that other metaphor, ‘I will pour out of My Spirit.’

That implies an emblem which is very frequently used, both in the Old and in the New Testament, viz., the Spirit as water. As our Lord said to Nicodemus: ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ The ‘water’ stands in the same relation to the ‘Spirit’ as the ‘fire’ does in the saying of John the Baptist already referred to-that is to say, it is simply a symbol or material emblem of the Spirit. I suppose nobody would say that there were two baptisms spoken of by John, one of the Holy Ghost and one of fire,-and I suppose that just in the same way, there are not two agents of regeneration pointed at in our Lord’s words, nor even two conditions, but that the Spirit is the sole agent, and ‘water’ is but a figure to express some aspect of His operations. So that there is no reference to the water of baptism in the words, and to see such a reference is to be led astray by sound, and out of a metaphor to manufacture a miracle.

There are other passages where, in like manner, the Spirit is compared to a flowing stream, such as, for instance, when our Lord said, ‘He that believeth on Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water,’ and when John saw a ‘river of water of life proceeding from the throne.’ The expressions, too, of ‘pouring out’ and ‘shedding forth’ the Spirit, point in the same direction, and are drawn from more than one passage of Old Testament prophecy. What, then, is the significance of comparing that Divine Spirit with a river of water? First, cleansing, of which I need not say any more, because I have dealt with It in the previous part of my sermon. Then, further, refreshing, and satisfying. Ah! dear brethren, there is only one thing that will slake the immortal thirst in your souls. The world will never do it; love or ambition gratified and wealth possessed, will never do it. You will be as thirsty after you have drunk of these streams as ever you were before. There is one spring ‘of which if a man drink, he shall never thirst’ with unsatisfied, painful longings, but shall never cease to thirst with the longing which is blessedness, because it is fruition. Our thirst can be slaked by the deep draught of ‘the river of the Water of Life, which proceeds from the Throne of God and the Lamb.’ The Spirit of God, drunk in by my spirit, will still and satisfy my whole nature, and with it I shall be glad. Drink of this. ‘Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters!’

The Spirit is not only refreshing and satisfying, but also productive and fertilising. In Eastern lands a rill of water is all that is needed to make the wilderness rejoice. Turn that stream on to the barrenness of your hearts, and fair flowers will grow that would never grow without it. The one means of lofty and fruitful Christian living is a deep, inward possession of the Spirit of God. The one way to fertilise barren souls is to let that stream flood them all over, and then the flush of green will soon come, and that which is else a desert will ‘rejoice and blossom as the rose.’

So this water will cleanse, it will satisfy and refresh, it will be productive and will fertilise, and ‘everything shall live whithersoever that river cometh.’

IV. Then, lastly, we have the oil of the Spirit.

‘Ye have an unction,’ says St. John in our last text, ‘from the Holy One.’ I need not remind you, I suppose, of how in the old system, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with consecrating oil, as a symbol of their calling, and of their fitness for their special offices. The reason for the use of such a symbol, I presume, would lie in the invigorating and in the supposed, and possibly real, health-giving effect of the use of oil in those climates. Whatever may have been the reason for the use of oil in official anointings, the meaning of the act was plain. It was a preparation for a specific and distinct service. And so, when we read of the oil of the Spirit, we are to think that it is that which fits us for being prophets, priests, and kings, and which calls us to, because it fits us for, these functions.

You are anointed to be prophets that you may make known Him who has loved and saved you, and may go about the world evidently inspired to show forth His praise, and make His name glorious. That anointing calls and fits you to be priests, mediators between God and man, bringing God to men, and by pleading and persuasion, and the presentation of the truth, drawing men to God. That unction calls and fits you to be kings, exercising authority over the little monarchy of your own natures, and over the men round you, who will bow in submission whenever they come in contact with a man all evidently aflame with the love of Jesus Christ, and filled with His Spirit. The world is hard and rude; the world is blind and stupid; the world often fails to know its best friends and its truest benefactors; but there is no crust of stupidity so crass and dense but that through it there will pass the penetrating shafts of light that ray from the face of a man who walks in fellowship with Jesus. The whole nation of old was honoured with these sacred names. They were a kingdom of priests; and the divine Voice said of the nation, ‘Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm!’ How much more are all Christian men, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, made prophets, priests, and kings to God! Alas for the difference between what they ought to be and what they are!

And then, do not forget also that when the Scriptures speak of Christian men as being anointed, it really speaks of them as being Messiahs. ‘Christ’ means anointed, does it not? ‘Messiah’ means anointed. And when we read in such a passage as that of my text, ‘Ye have an unction from the Holy One,’ we cannot but feel that the words point in the same direction as the great words of our Master Himself, ‘As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.’ By authority derived, no doubt, and in a subordinate and secondary sense, of course, we are Messiahs, anointed with that Spirit which was given to Him, not by measure, and which has passed from Him to us. ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.’

So, dear brethren, all these things being certainly so, what are we to say about the present state of Christendom? What are we to say about the present state of English Christianity, Church and Dissent alike? Is Pentecost a vanished glory, then? Has that ‘rushing mighty wind’ blown itself out, and a dead calm followed? Has that leaping fire died down into grey ashes? Has the great river that burst out then, like the stream from the foot of the glaciers of Mont Blanc, full-grown in its birth, been all swallowed up in the sand, like some of those rivers in the East? Has the oil dried in the cruse? People tell us that Christianity is on its death-bed; and the aspect of a great many professing Christians seems to confirm the statement. But let us thankfully recognise that ‘we are not straitened in God, but in ourselves.’ To how many of us the question might be put: ‘Did you receive the Holy Ghost when you believed?’ And how many of us by our lives answer: ‘We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.’ Let us go where we can receive Him; and remember the blessed words: ‘If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him’!

Acts 2:2-3. And suddenly — That is, unexpectedly and in a moment, not gradually, as winds generally rise; there came a sound from heaven — Not, as some have supposed, like a clap of thunder; but as of a rushing mighty wind — A wind strong and violent, coming not only with a loud noise, but with great force, as if it would bear down all before it; this was to signify the powerful influences and operations of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men; and it filled all the house where they were sitting — As their doctrine was afterward to fill the whole earth. “When Moses had finished all things respecting the tabernacle, a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, Exodus 40:34-35; and when Solomon had finished building the temple, the cloud, &c., filled the house of the Lord, 1 Kings 8:10-11. In like manner, when Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, it is said, his train filled the temple, Isaiah 6:1. But now the divine presence had left the temple, and the glory of the Lord rested upon mount Zion, the gospel church, and filled the house where the apostles were assembled.” And there appeared unto them cloven — Or, as some render διαμεριζομεναι, distinct, tongues of fire — That is, small flames, which is all that the phrase, tongues of fire, means in the language of the Seventy. Probably, however, those small flames were cloven, or divided, either in that part of them which was next the heads of those on whom they rested, as Dr. Hammond supposes; or, as most commentators think, and as seems much more probable, at the tip of them. They were “bright flames,” says Dr. Doddridge, “in a pyramidical form, which were so parted as to terminate in several points, and thereby to afford a proper emblem of the marvellous effects attending the appearance, by which they were endowed with a miraculous diversity of languages.” And it sat (εκαθισε, not they sat,) upon each of them — That is, the fire, or one of these tongues, or flames, sat upon each: for it appears there were as many flames as there were persons, and they sat upon them for some time, to show the constant residence of the Holy Ghost with them. The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were conferred sparingly of old, and but at some times; but the disciples of Christ had these gifts always with them; though the sign, we may suppose, presently disappeared. By these appearances resembling flaming fire, was probably signified, also, God’s touching their tongues, as it were (together with their hearts) with divine fire; his enabling them to speak with irresistible force and energy; his giving them such words as were active and penetrating, even as flaming fire.

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.And suddenly - It burst upon them at once. Though they were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, yet it is not probable that they expected it in this manner. As this was an important event, and one on which the welfare of the church depended, it was proper that the gift of the Holy Spirit should take place in some striking and sensible manner, so as to convince their own minds that the promise was fulfilled, and so as deeply to impress others with the greatness and importance of the event.

There came a sound - ἦχος ēchos. This word is applied to any noise or report. Hebrews 12:19, "the sound of a trumpet"; Luke 4:37, "The fame of him," etc. Compare Mark 1:28.

From heaven - Appearing to rush down from the sky. It was suited, therefore, to attract their attention no less from the direction from which it came, than on account of its suddenness and violence. Tempests blow commonly horizontally. This appeared to come from above; and this is all that is meant by the expression. "from heaven."

As of a rushing mighty wind - Literally, "as of a violent blast borne along" - φερομένης pheromenēs - rushing along like a tempest. Such a wind sometimes borne along so violently, and with such a noise, as to make it difficult even to hear the thunder in the gale. Such appears to have been the sound of this remarkable phenomenon. It does not appear that there was any wind, but the sudden sound was like such a sweeping tempest. It may be remarked, however, that the wind in the sacred Scriptures is often put as an emblem of a divine influence. See John 3:8. It is invisible, yet mighty, and thus represents the agency of the Holy Spirit. The same word in Hebrew רוּח ruwach and in Greek πνεῦμα pneuma is used to denote both. The mighty power of God may be denoted also by the violence of a tempest, 1 Kings 19:11; Psalm 29:1-11; Psalm 104:3; Psalm 18:10. In this place the sound as of a gale was emblematic of the mighty power of the Spirit, and of the effects which his coming would accomplish among people.

And it filled - Not the wind filled, But the sound. This is evident:

(1) Because there is no affirmation that there was any wind.

(2) the grammatical structure of the sentence will admit no other construction. The word "filled" has no nominative case but the word "sound": "and suddenly there was a sound as of a wind, and (the sound) filled the house." In the Greek, the word "wind" is in the genitive or possessive case. It may be remarked here that this miracle was really far more striking than the common supposition makes it to have been. A tempest would have been terrific. A mighty wind might have alarmed them. But there would have been nothing unusual or remarkable in this. Such things often happened; and the thoughts would have been directed of course to the storm as an ordinary, though perhaps alarming occurrence. But when all was still; when there was no storm, no wind, no rain, no thunder, such a rushing sound must have arrested their attention, and directed all minds to a phenomenon so unusual and unaccountable.

All the house - Some have supposed that this was a room in or near the temple. But as the temple is not expressly mentioned, this is improbable. It was probably the private dwelling mentioned in Acts 1:13. If it be said that such a dwelling could not contain so large a multitude as soon assembled, it may be replied that their houses had large central courts (See the notes on Matthew 9:2), and that it is not affirmed that the transactions recorded in this chapter occurred in the room which they occupied. It is probable that it took place in the court and around the house.

2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, &c.—"The whole description is so picturesque and striking that it could only come from an eye-witness" [Olshausen]. The suddenness, strength, and diffusiveness of the sound strike with deepest awe the whole company, and thus complete their preparation for the heavenly gift. Wind was a familiar emblem of the Spirit (Eze 37:9; Joh 3:8; 20:22). But this was not a rush of actual wind. It was only a sound "as of" it. Suddenly, the apostles themselves not expecting it,

there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind; to prepare them to attend the more unto what they should hear and see afterwards; also to signify the unexpected and powerful progress which the gospel should have: it may be, to cause the greater concourse to that place, it being a usual manner; and God would make this miracle more public.

It filled all the house; to show that the Spirit should be bestowed on them that were met there, and on all the church throughout the world.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven,.... Which is expressive of the original of the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, which come from above, from heaven, from the Father of lights; and of the freeness of them, being unmerited; and so come suddenly, at an unawares, being unthought of, undesired, and unexpected, and so certainly undeserved; and may be a symbol of the sound of the Gospel, which from hence was to go forth into all the earth; and may likewise express the rise of that, and the freeness of the grace of God in it, and its sudden spread throughout the world:

as of a rushing mighty wind; it was not a wind, but like one; and the noise it made, was like the rushing noise of a strong and boisterous wind, that carries all before it: the Spirit of God is sometimes compared to the wind, because of the freeness of his operations; as that blows where it listeth, so he works when and where, and on whom he pleases; and also because of the power and efficacy of his grace, which is mighty and irresistible, and works with great energy upon the minds of men; and as the wind is secret and invisible, so the operations of the Spirit are in a manner secret and imperceptible unto men: this may likewise be applied to the Gospel, when it comes with the Holy Ghost, and with power; it makes its way into the heart, and throws down the strong holds of sin and Satan; there it works effectually, though secretly, and is the power of God to salvation:

and it filled all the house where they were sitting; which was the temple, or the upper room or chamber in it, where they were assembled; so in the Ethiopic confession of faith (s) it is said,

"the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles, in the upper room of Zion;

this may be a symbol of the Gospel filling the whole world,

(s) Vid. Ludolph. not. in Claud. reg. Ethiop. Confess. p. 13.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:2 describes what preceded the effusion of the Spirit as an audible σημεῖον—a sound occurring unexpectedly from heaven as of a violent wind borne along (comp. πνεῦμα βίαιον, Arrian. Exp. Al. ii. 6. 3; Pausan. x. 17. 11). The wonderful sound is, by the comparison (ὥσπερ) with a violent wind, intended to be brought home to the conception of the reader, but not to be represented as an actual storm of wind (Eichhorn, Heinrichs), or gust (Ewald), or other natural phenomenon (comp. Neander, p. 14).[112] Comp. Hom. Od. vi. 20.

οἶκον] is not arbitrarily and against N. T. usage to be limited to the room (Valckenaer), but is to be understood of a private house, and, indeed, most probably of the same house, which is already known from Acts 1:13; Acts 1:15 as the meeting-place of the disciples of Jesus. Whether it was the very house in which Jesus partook of the last supper (Mark 14:12 ff.), as Ewald conjectures, cannot he determined. If Luke had meant the temple, as, after the older commentators, Morus, Heinrichs, Olshausen, Baumgarten, also Wieseler, p. 18, and Lange, Apost. Zeitalt. II. p. 14, assume, he must have named it; the reader could not have guessed it. For (1) it is by no means necessary that we should think of the assembly on the first day of Pentecost and at the time of prayer just as in the temple. On the contrary, Acts 2:1 describes the circle of those met together as closed and in a manner separatist; hence a place in the temple could neither be wished for by them nor granted to them. Nor is the opinion, that it was the temple, to be established from Luke 24:53, where the mode of expression is popular. (2) The supposition that they were assembled in the temple is not required by the great multitude of those that flocked together (Acts 2:6). The private house may have been in the neighbourhood of the temple; but not even this supposition is necessary, considering the miraculous character of the occurrence. (3) It is true that, according to Joseph. Antt. viii. 3. 2, the principal building of the temple had thirty halls built around it, which he calls οἴκους; but could Luke suppose Theophilus possessed of this special knowledge? “But,” it is said, (4) “the solemn inauguration of the church of Christ then presents itself with imposing effect in the sanctuary of the old covenant,” Olshausen; “the new spiritual temple must have … proceeded from the envelope of the old temple,” Lange. But this locality would need first to be proved! If this inauguration did not take place in the temple, with the same warrant there might be seen in this an equally imposing indication of the entire severance of the new theocracy from the old. Yet Luke has indicated neither the one nor the other idea, and it is not till Acts 2:44 that the visit to the temple emerges in his narrative.

Kaiser (Commentat. 1820, pp. 3–23; comp. bibl. Theol. II. p. 41) infers from ἦσανἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, Acts 2:1, as well as from ΟἾΚΟς, ΚΑΘΉΜΕΝΟΙ, Οὐ ΜΕΘΎΟΥΣΙΝ, Acts 2:15, etc., that this Christian private assembly, at the first feast of Pentecost, had for its object the celebration of the Agapae. Comp. Augusti, Denkwürdigkeiten aus der christl. Arch. IV. p. 124. An interpretation arbitrarily put into the words. The sacredness of the festival was in itself a sufficient reason for their assembling, especially considering the deeply excited state of feeling in which they were, and the promise which was given to the apostles for so near a realization.

οὗ ἦσαν καθεζόμενοι] where, that is, in which they were sitting. We have to conceive those assembled, ere yet the hour of prayer (Acts 2:15) had arrived (for in prayer they stood), sitting at the feet of the teachers.

[112] Lightfoot aptly remarks: “Sonus venti vehementis, sed absque vento; sic etiam linguae igneae, sed absque igne.”

Acts 2:2. ἄφνω: only in Acts, here, and in Acts 16:26, Acts 28:6; Klostermann’s Vindiciæ Lucanæ, p. 55; several times in LXX, but also in classical Greek in Thuc., Dem., Eur.—ἦχος ὥσπερ φερομ. πν. βιαίας, lit[115], “a sound as if a violent gust were being borne along”. St. Chrysostom rightly emphasises the ὡς, so that the sound is not that of wind, but as of the rushing of a mighty wind (so too the tongues are not of fire, but as of fire). The words describe not a natural but a supernatural phenomenon, as Wendt pointedly admits. Wind was often used as a symbol of the divine Presence, 2 Samuel 5:24, Psalm 104:3, 1 Kings 19:11, Ezekiel 43:2, etc.; cf. Josephus, Ant., iii., 5, 2; vii., 4; here it is used of the mighty power of the Spirit which nothing could resist. St. Luke alone of the N.T. writers uses ἦχοςHebrews 12:19 being a quotation, and it is perhaps worth noting that the word is employed in medical writers, and by one of them, Aretæus, of the noise of the sea (cf. ἤχους θαλάσσης, Luke 21:25).—ὅλον τὸν οἶκον. If the Temple were meant, as Holtzmann and Zöckler think, it would have been specified, Acts 3:2; Acts 3:11, Acts 5:21.

[115] literal, literally.

2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind] Rather, of the rushing of a mighty wind, lit., of a mighty wind borne along. The verb employed to express the rushing of the wind is used by St Peter (2 Ephesians 1:17-18) of “the voice which came from heaven” at the Transfiguration, also (Acts 1:21) of the gift of prophecy, and the motion of the prophets by the Holy Ghost.

Acts 2:2. Ἄφνω, suddenly) So also shall Christ be revealed when coming to judgment [viz. suddenly].—φερομένης) An appropriate verb (word)—πνοῆς, of a blast, or gust of wind) This depends on ἦχος, a sound.—οἶκον, house) Often οἶκος denotes a part of a house, as the Latin æcus. “The house” was the temple (for according to Luke 24:53, “they were continually in the temple”), which was to be resorted to by all on that festival day, and in that part of the day: the æcus was part of the temple: the ὑπερῷον, ch. Acts 1:13, was part of the whole œcus.—καθήμενοι, sitting) quietly, in the morning: Acts 2:15.

Verse 2. - From heaven a sound for a sound from heaven, A.V.; as of the rushing of a for as of a rushing, A.V. All the house; showing that it was in a private dwelling, not in the temple (as in Acts 3:1) that they were assembled (see Acts 2:46). Perhaps the word "church" (ὁ κυριακὸς οῖκος) derives its use from these early meetings of the disciples in a house, as distinguished from the temple (τὸ ἱερὸν). Acts 2:2A sound (ἦχος)

See on Luke 4:37.

Of a rushing mighty wind (φερομένης πνοῆς βιαίας)

Lit., of a mighty wind borne along. Πνοή is a blowing, a blast. Only here and Acts 17:25. Rev., as of the rushing of a mighty wind.

The house

Not merely the room. Compare Acts 1:13.

Were sitting

Awaiting the hour of prayer. See Acts 2:15.

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