James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.Acts 2:1-47
THE FORMATION OF THE CHURCH
THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Acts 2:1-4)
The Day of Pentecost alludes to the Levitical feast, with which we became acquainted in the Old Testament. The word is Greek, meaning fifty, the feast occurring fifty days after the offering of the barley sheaf in the Passover feast. It commemorated the wheat harvest and was sometimes called “the Feast of harvest” (Exodus 33:16), or “the Feast of Weeks,” (Exodus 34:22), or the “Day of the First Fruits” (Numbers 28:26). After the Babylonian captivity it came to commemorate the giving of the law on Matthew Sinai. There is reason to believe that on this occasion it occurred on the Lord’s Day, which explains the declaration in verse one. The “wind,” the “tongues” and the “fire” were not the Holy Spirit but the signs of His advent. Their being “filled with the Holy Ghost” was the fulfillment of Matthew 3:2; Luke 11:13; John 1:33; John 7:37-39; John 14:16-17; Acts 1:5; etc. This was the gift of the Spirit, the promised Comforter, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He came to dwell in the believers individually, and yet that individual indwelling by the Spirit, naturally resulted in a corporate work, uniting them all in one body which is the church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Since that day, whenever a sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he shares in that baptism and becomes a member of that one body, of which Christ is the head (1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 4:3-6). From a scriptural point of view, it is therefore improper for a believer to pray for the gift of the Spirit, or for a greater baptism of the Spirit, because these blessings are already his; but it is different with reference to being filled with the Spirit, if one may judge by Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:5; Acts 7:55; Ephesians 5:18.
IMMEDIATE EFFECTS (Acts 2:5-13)
The first of these was given in verse four, the speaking “with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance”; the second was the coming together of the multitude in consequence of this, and the third, the conclusion the latter reached. As to the first, the thought is that the disciples not of their own volition, but as instruments of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed not the gospel as such, but the praises of God in various languages theretofore unknown to them. Their act had been symbolized in the cloven tongue of fire that had sat upon each, and it prophesied that the Holy Spirit had come to make
known through them the Gospel to all nations under heaven. It is not likely that they continued thus to speak in different tongues. In Acts 10:46 it is referred to again as an evidence that the Gentiles had received the gift of the Holy Ghost the same as the Jews had on the Day of Pentecost, and in Acts 19:6 it shows that the Jewish disciples of John had received it, but beyond this it is not named further and these were all special and initial cases. The passage in 1 Corinthians 14 will be considered when it is reached. In the meantime a caution is necessary because phenomena of this character can so easily be counterfeited by evil spirits.
PETER’S DISCOURSE (Acts 2:14-36)
This may be divided at each of the verses where he directly addresses his hearers: “Ye men of Judea” (Acts 2:14); “Ye men of Israel” (Acts 2:22); “Men and Brethren,” or simply “Brethren” (Acts 2:29 RV). In the first division he disposes of the charge of drunkenness, and shows the relation of that which had occurred to the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29. He does not say that Pentecost completely fulfilled that prophecy, which will not finish until the end of the age, but it was a foretaste. In the second division, he describes the death of Christ and charges that sin upon them; and in the third, he affirms His resurrection as proven by the scriptures, by the testimony of the disciples who were its eyewitnesses (Psalms 16), and by the event that was just transpiring.
The First Converts (Acts 2:37-47) Peter exhorted the people to repent of their sins (which included crucifying Jesus Christ) and be baptized. Three thousand people responded to his preaching and became Christians that day; thus the Christian church began.
1. What does Pentecost mean and to what does the feast allude?
2. Have you re-examined the New Testament scriptures which predicted this event?
3. How does 1 Corinthians 12:13 explain this event?
4. What is the thought of verse four?
5. Of what was their act at once a symbol and a prophecy?
6. Why is a caution necessary about speaking with tongues?
7. Analyze Peter’s discourse.