1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
The term Pentecost means fifty. The day that we in Christendom recognize as Pentecost was originally known as the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of the Harvest, and/or the Day of First Fruits. It was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the Passover. It marked the formal completion of the wheat harvest. It also marked the renewal of the covenant. Every male Israelite was required to appear at the sanctuary. Together the people gave thanks to God for the harvest and acknowledged their obligation to God under the covenant.
Today, Pentecost is recognized as the ushering in of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the church age. It is understood as the day when believers and followers of Christ became constituted as the “Body of Christ.” On the day of Pentecost God poured out His Spirit and the redemption of believers by the cross of Christ was made complete. Believers were invigorated by God’s divine power through the Holy Spirit and set forth on a path of work and worship. What God gave on the day of Pentecost He has never withdrawn. God gave the Holy Spirit and from that day to this one the Holy Spirit has been transforming the disciples of Christ and galvanizing them into action.
So, what actually happened on the day of Pentecost? According to Acts 2, there were five things that happened on the day of Pentecost and continue to be repeated today.
As God poured out His Spirit into the place where the people had gathered for worship the place and everyone inside became saturated with the Holy Spirit. Verse 2 says, “A violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Verse 4 says, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit dispatched from heaven by God filled the house and the people in the house and there was a dramatic difference in the environment and the people. They both became saturated with the Holy Spirit. In chemistry saturated substances exhibit three distinct characteristics. They are less reactive, possess stronger dispersion forces, and have a higher melting point. Saturated substances are not bothered by the mundane and as a result they are not easily disturbed or provoked. Saturated substances also seem to possess a stronger force of attraction. They are like magnets. Other objects no matter how resistant are drawn to them. Saturated substances because of their high melting point do not breakdown easily when exposed to extreme and intense heat. They are able to endure and persevere in pressurized situations. And, so, as the Holy Spirit filled the place where the people had gathered, the place and the people became saturated (thoroughly filled & absorbed) with the Holy Spirit.
The next thing that happened was a manifestation or evidence of the people being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helped the people to express themselves in a manner like they had never done before. Verse 4 says, “All of them…began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” There was a clear and definitive presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in worship. The people’s expression in worship was enabled and the product of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Here we see two marks of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit. First, when the Holy Spirit is present and moving in worship, corporate worship becomes the result of a personal encounter, experience, and relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. The people came together because of tradition and to fulfill a religious obligation, but they were prompted and inspired to worship by the Holy Spirit. Secondly, what was a group became a fellowship. The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit broke down all barriers and created a united fellowship out of diverse cultures. People came from different walks of life, with different views of life, and spoke different languages in life. After being filled they all spoke one language – the language of the heart. They also adopted and shared one purpose for being together – to glorify God.
For these people on this day, it was more important to understand then to be understood. It was more important to be united in fellowship then divided in worship. The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit is the result of the Spirit revealing God’s love for all people. The realization of God’s love brings people together and prompts them to express their love for God in praise.
The next thing that happened was a second manifestation or additional evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence and activity. Verse 6 says, “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment.” Verse 12 says, “Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, what does this mean?” The sound emanating from the house saturated with the Holy Spirit and people filled with the Holy Spirit got the attention of others and drew them in for a closer inspection. Another manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power is the power of attraction. The collective witness of individuals expressing love and devotion for God in vibrant worship cannot be ignored. One or two people we can ignore and overlook, but an entire congregation cannot be ignored. Others will see, hear, and investigate and want to know, what is going on here?
A normal reaction to the Pentecostal experience is rejection. In verse 13 the text says, “Some, however, made fun of them and said, they have had too much wine.” There were some who rejected the notion that the events on Pentecost were a demonstration of God’s power. Instead, they attributed it to being under the influence of wine.
In the face of undeniable evidence of God’s power there will always be dissenters, naysayers, and others who will refute obvious and unmistakable displays of God’s awesome power. However, rejection of God, of Christ, of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit and reality of their divine power is to be expected and anticipated. It is par for the course. God foretold that people would reject Him and Jesus warned us that both He and the Holy Spirit would not be accepted. Armed with God’s foretelling and Christ’s warning, we must not be swayed or become discouraged by other’s rejection of the divine power manifested and revealed in our midst through the Holy Spirit. We are encouraged instead to expected it and continue reaching out to and celebrating with those who are receptive to the reality of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, there was clarification. As the apostle Peter stood up to address the crowd including the dissenters. Peter provides clarity for all about what has just happened. While some did not understand, Peter points out that what has just taken place was spoken of in the scriptures. God through the prophet Joel foretold of this day and the unfolding of these events and what they have just witnessed is their fulfillment.
In summary form, Peter teaches the people that whenever the Spirit of God is poured out on the people of God there will be fulfillment.
- There will be fulfillment of prophecy. The Holy Spirit will provide revelation and understanding of God’s word. The word of God will become a living word that lives with people and enables them to apply it daily to their lives. The word will not only speak to them, but it will also guide, direct and govern them in all of their affairs. It will become the objective standard for their lives.
- There will be fulfillment of promises. The Holy Spirit will enable the people of God to realize the fullness of God’s blessings. The more of God’s Spirit we received, the greater our devotion toward God and for the things of God, and being propelled in the Spirit to live lives that are pleasing to God we will experience the favor of God as the Holy Spirit leads us into the exceeding abundance of God’s blessings.
- There will be fulfillment of miracles. The Holy Spirit will cause the unexplained and the seemingly impossible to happen. There will be a breaking down of barriers, as things that were not accessible to us outside of the Holy Spirit will become accessible when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The power of God through the Holy Spirit will do for us what we could never do for ourselves.
With all that God offers through the Holy Spirit, who would not want to have a Pentecostal experience. In fact the good news is that a Pentecostal experience is not just limited to the day of Pentecost or even worship. A Pentecostal experience is made available to believers every time God pours out His Spirit and believers become filled with the Holy Spirit.
Have you had a Pentecostal experience today?