And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.…
Next to the day of Christ's death, Pentecost was the greatest day that ever dawned. It was "the birth-day" of the Church, the first day of the new creation, in which chaos began to be fashioned and arranged by the plastic power of the Spirit, the day of the grand and solemn opening of the kingdom of heaven, after the completion of the Christ's preparatory work, the day on which the fountain was unsealed, whose waters should flow forth for the healing and purifying of the nations. And as it was the first of Christian days, so was it a type of Christian days. Note —
I. THE HISTORY.
1. The season was the Pentecost, a Jewish festival.
2. The hour, "the hour of prayer."
3. The place was one of the apartments of the temple. If we put these things together, we shall have two results.
(1) They secured a large and fitting audience. Great numbers of Jews and proselytes visited Jerusalem; and the temple was just the place where they could most easily become parties to the introduction of the new dispensation.
(2) It was strikingly taught that the old state of things was giving place to another, which should change its form but perfect its spirit. The shell was being broken to yield a new life; the beautiful fly was being developed from the worm. Judaism was to be displaced by that which should spiritualise and ennoble its truths and principles. The temple was to become a church, and Pentecost to witness a new celebration of harvest, the ingathering of souls.
4. The antecedents. The apostles "continued with one accord," etc.
II. THE OCCURRENCES AS STRIKINGLY SUGGESTIVE OF IMPORTANT TRUTHS IN RELATION TO THE DISPENSATION THUS INTRODUCED. There was —
1. A new Spirit. Whatever spiritual influences had been shed forth in former periods, the Holy Ghost, in the New Testament sense, was to be the gift of the glorified Saviour, the characteristic blessing of His kingdom. We must beware of restricting this fact to miraculous endowments. The gift of tongues, etc., were but signs and seals of the spiritual power intended to draw attention to the inward gift, only as the thunder and lightning of the new spiritual world, occasional and impressive incidents of powers and processes whose constant, silent operation is the very life of men.
(1) The world needed the Spirit. It was not a case merely for new religious opinions, habits, or institutions; the need was of life from above; the nature required to be restored and quickened. Sin had cut off the supplies of Divine grace, had converted the temple into a tomb. It was the grand design of the gospel to engraft humanity upon Deity, to breathe into our dead souls the breath of life.
(2) The apostles needed the Spirit. Much as they had been with Jesus, they were still strangers to His inner being, the deeper meaning of His acts and words, the glory of His Cross; they were like the skeletons in the valley of vision, very dry, till at the prophet's bidding they became living men.
2. A new truth. "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God," the same as composed the subject of Peter's discourse; the history of Christ. True, they knew that He had died, and risen again, and ascended: but all this, though familiar as history, was new as truth. And just as a man who has travelled in the dark, looks back at break of day and admires the objects that he passed, aware only of their existence, or deeming them objects of fear, so the disciples recalled the events of their Master's life, and rejoiced in much which had perplexed and grieved them. The death and departure of Christ were to His followers like the fabled statue of Memnon, which sent forth sounds, mournful in the night, but melodious at the rising of the sun: when God's morning light arose, how sweet the notes those facts, once only sad, emitted! Christianity is essentially historical. It does not set men on arduous inquiries, nor answer them by logical expositions; but it points us to the incarnate Son of God; tells us how He lived and suffered and arose to glory; tells us that He was, that He is: He is the object of its faith, its love, its obedience and its joy. Such was evidently Peter's thought when he used "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" to open it to the Jewish world on the day of Pentecost. Such was also Paul's (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4). This was the truth which they propounded to men of every class and in every condition — to Greek (1 Corinthians 2:2); to Jew (Galatians 6:14); to Roman (Romans 8:3, 4); and it proved, in the case of all, the power of God unto every one that believeth. The declaration of this truth on the day of Pentecost was therefore not an exceptional thing; it was a specimen of the kind of moral instrumentality which should be characteristic of Christianity.
3. A new vehicle. "They began to speak with other tongues."(1) Had a Jew been told that God was about to introduce a new and transcendent dispensation in a style worthy of its superior excellence, he would probably have expected a grand ceremonial. But he was here taught that Christianity would be a system, not of ceremonialism, but of moral agency, and that its chief means would be uttered thought and feeling, man coming into contact with man, reason with reason, heart with heart. No system of religion has made such use of the voice as Christianity, and its purest forms have always been connected with the largest use of the voice.
(2) The manner as well as the fact of the use of the tongue was instructive. In the publicity and indiscriminateness of Pentecostal preaching there was something different from all that had appeared in the best types of heathen wisdom. The philosophers universally disregarded the poor; their discoveries were confined to those who sought and could purchase them. But the gift of tongues declared not only that speech would be the most appropriate organ of the gospel, but that it would "speak to the people" without exception, "all the words of this life."
4. A new world. No power on earth could have brought together, at that time, so typical a congregation. And herein was there an expression of the catholicity of the gospel. It not only declared that the world might enjoy the privileges of the true religion, but it spoke to the world in its own language; it destroyed every "middle wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile, and made the common possession of every race the rich inheritance of "the gospel of the grace of God." The confusion of tongues (Genesis 11:7) was reversed, and it was proclaimed that the effect of the gospel would be the destruction of all that divided and alienated men; that its purpose was to form a new "body," into which all should be "baptized by one Spirit, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free," so creating a "new man," in which there should be "neither Greek nor Jew," etc.
5. A new impression (vers. 37, 41-42).
(1) There had been mighty religious movements among Jews and Gentiles, but there had been no seasons similar to Pentecost. Not that we are to dissociate that time from times preceding. "Other men had laboured, and the disciples entered into their labours." Christ had no Pentecost; but He was always doing that without which no Pentecost could have been. He was breaking up the fallow-ground, and sowing seed; the ingathering was to come. It is a far greater thing to make a gospel than to preach a gospel. And when Peter with quickening energy spake to the people, and thousands confessed the sovereignty of truth, he was only the instrument of bringing to bear the virtue and power of Christ's redemption. "The corn of wheat had fallen into the ground and died," but, having died, it now "brought forth much fruit."(2) But however men had been moved or changed before, they had never been moved or changed thus. The sense of guilt was not strange, but penitence had never possessed the depth and the tenderness which belonged to theirs who "looked on Him whom they had pierced, and mourned for Him," Moral and religious reformation had often rewarded the labours of the wise and good, but never had it taken so Divine a type as in those who now "gladly received the Word." Men had often associated themselves together at the bidding of outward law or inward love, but organisation and fellowship had never known their truest life and strongest bonds till the thousands of Pentecost joined the Church at Jerusalem.
1. Let us recognise the fact that this is the dispensation of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is now given because Jesus is glorified. It is the time of spiritual life, "the day of Christ's power."
2. The means whereby "the power from on high" may be obtained for ourselves and others. These are prayer and truth. It was the supplicating Church that was filled with the Spirit; it was the speaking Church that received the addition of three thousand souls. This is & union that evermore prevails, and without which there can be no realisation of Pentecostal times.
3. The pouring forth of the Spirit of Christ is the present, the universal, the urgent necessity of men. The main misery of the world is its carnal life, its separation from God: it will never be whole and happy till it be possessed and regenerated by the Spirit of the living God.
(A. J. Morris.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.