New International Version
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
King James Bible
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Darby Bible Translation
And there appeared to them parted tongues, as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them.
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,
Acts 2:3 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Cloven tongues like as of fire - The tongues were the emblem of the languages they were to speak. The cloven tongues pointed out the diversity of those languages; and the fire seemed to intimate that the whole would be a spiritual gift, and be the means of bringing light and life to the souls who should hear them preach the everlasting Gospel in those languages.
Sat upon each of them - Scintillations, coruscations, or flashes of fire, were probably at first frequent through every part of the room where they were sitting; at last these flashes became defined, and a lambent flame, in the form of a cloven tongue, became stationary on the head of each disciple; a proof that the Spirit of God had made each his temple or residence. That unusual appearances of fire were considered emblems of the presence and influence of God, both the Scriptures and the Jewish writings amply prove. Thus God manifested himself to Moses, when he appointed him to deliver Israel, Exodus 3:2, Exodus 3:3; and thus he manifested himself when he delivered the law on Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:16-20. The Jews, in order to support the pretensions of their rabbins, as delivering their instructions by Divine authority and influence, represent them as being surrounded with fire while they were delivering their lectures; and that their words, in consequence, penetrated and exhilarated the souls of their disciples. Some of the Mohammedans represent Divine inspiration in the same way. In a fine copy of a Persian work, entitled Ajaceb al Makhlookat, or Wonders of Creation, now before me, where a marred account of Abraham's sacrifice, mentioned Genesis 15:9-17, is given, instead of the burning lamp passing between the divided pieces of the victim, Genesis 15:17, Abraham is represented standing between four fowls, the cock, the peacock, the duck, and the crow, with his head almost wrapped in a flame of lambent fire, as the emblem of the Divine communication made to him of the future prosperity of his descendants. The painting in which this is represented is most exquisitely finished. This notion of the manner in which Divine intimations were given was not peculiar to the Jews and Arabians; it exists in all countries; and the glories which appear round the heads of Chinese, Hindoo, and Christian saints, real or supposed, were simply intended to signify that they had especial intercourse with God, and that his Spirit, under the emblem of fire, sat upon them and became resident in them. There are numerous proofs of this in several Chinese and Hindoo paintings in my possession; and how frequently this is to be met with in legends, missals, and in the ancient ecclesiastical books of the different Christian nations of Europe, every reader acquainted with ecclesiastical antiquity knows well. See the dedication of Solomon's temple, 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.
The Greek and Roman heathens had similar notions of the manner in which Divine communications were given: strong wind, loud and repeated peals of thunder, coruscations of lightning, and lambent flames resting on those who were objects of the Deities regard, are all employed by them to point out the mode in which their gods were reported to make their will known to their votaries. Every thing of this kind was probably borrowed from the account given by Moses of the appearance on Mount Sinai; for traditions of this event were carried through almost every part of the habitable world, partly by the expelled Canaanites, partly by the Greek sages travelling through Asiatic countries in quest of philosophic truth: and partly by means of the Greek version of the Septuagint, made nearly three hundred years before the Christian era.
"A flame of fire seen upon the head of any person was, among the heathens, considered as an omen from their gods that the person was under the peculiar care of a supernatural power, and destined to some extraordinary employment. Many proofs of this occur in the Roman poets and historians. Wetstein, in his note on this place, has made an extensive collection of them. I shall quote but one, which almost every reader of the Aeneid of Virgil will recollect: -
Talia vociferans gemitu tectum omne replebat:
Cum subitum, dictuque oritur mirabile monstrum.
Namque manus inter, maestorumque ora parentum.
Ecce levis summo de vertice visus
Iuli Fundere lumen apex, tactuque innoxia molli
Lambere flamma comas, et circum tempora pasci.
Nos pavidi trepidare metu, crinemque flagrantem
Excutere, et sanctos restinguere fontibus ignes.
At pater Anchises oculos ad sidera laetus
Extulit, et coelo palamas cum voce tetendit:
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
LibraryNovember 25 Evening
Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall he saved.--ACTS 2:21. Manasseh did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, and he reared up altars for Baal. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.--And …
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path
Peter's First Sermon
The Historical and Spiritual Causes of the Death of Christ
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
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