The Jewish festival of Pentecost is important for understanding the events of Acts 2. The Feast of Weeks or Shavuot celebrates the first fruits of the harvest. It happens fifty days after Passover (seven weeks) in the late spring / early summer. This festival included an offering of two loaves made with the wheat given in the first fruit offering (Lev 23:15–16; Deut 16:9).
For first-century Jews, Shavout was a declaration of “God’s ownership of the land and his grace in bringing forth food” (Sanders, Judaism, 139). The book of Ruth is read during this festival. That Ruth takes place during the wheat harvest may be the reason, but Ruth is not only a gentile convert to Judaism, she is the ancestor of King David. “There may also be a messianic significance in the choice of this work, i.e., that all the world will turn to Judaism eventually” (The Encyclopedia of Judaism; Leiden: Brill, 2000, 1:43). Since Acts begins the story of the Gospel beginning in Jerusalem and eventually going out to the whole world, this background may be significant. A significant problem for this view is our lack of certainty that Ruth was read at Pentecost in the first century. Even if it was, would Luke be aware of the reading, and would he want to tease out any messianic significance for reading Ruth at the Feast of Weeks.
According The Book of Jubilees, Pentecost was the day on which Moses was given the Law (cf. Tobit 2:1, 2 Macc 12:32). Although the Book of Exodus does not make this clear, there is a tradition that the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai 50 days after the first Passover (Exod 19:1). Some scholars (Knox, Snaith) see a connection between this tradition and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Since Moses gave out the Law to Israel on this day, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to the church. Joseph Fitzmyer suggested Luke was aware of the tradition since there are some indirect allusions to the giving of the Law in Acts 2, such as the image of fire descending from heaven (Exod 19:18). For some, the descent of the Spirit as “tongues of fire” alludes to the theophany at Sinai.
However, as Keener points out, there is no scholarly consensus on the meaning of Pentecost in this passage (Acts, 1:784). There are some parallels with a covenant renewal ceremony (Jubilees 6.17) or traditions about Pentecost in the (potentially later) Targumim. Keener concludes Luke use of Pentecost as a festival has no more significance to his narrative than providing large crowds and a short interval after Passover (Acts 1:787).
It is likely the first fruits of the harvest refers to those who receive the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. The new age has begun and the Holy Spirit has come for the first time. But there are two other potential Pentecosts in the book of Acts. In Acts 10 the Holy Spirit falls on Cornelius, a God-Fearing Gentile and he speaks in tongues just as the Jewish believers do in Acts 2. Peter makes this point himself in Acts 10:47: the Gentiles in Cornelius’ home received the Holy Spirit “just as we have.”
There is a third reference to Pentecost in Acts 20:16. Paul wants to return to Jerusalem before Pentecost if possible. This was a dangerous journey, especially since Paul wanted to deliver the collection from the Gentile churches at Pentecost. By delivering a gift to the poor in Jerusalem the Gentile churches demonstrate that they too have received the Holy Spirit. Paul’s return to Jerusalem at Pentecost is calculated to highlight his harvest among the Gentiles. That there are three references to Pentecost are not unexpected since Luke repeats important events three times several times in Acts (Cornelius’ conversion, Paul’s conversion, the rejection of Israel, etc.)
Whatever the intended imagery, the day represents the largest crowd in the Temple area since Passover fifty days before. Peter and the other apostles will be able to preach to large crowds of Jews gathered to worship God in the Temple (Acts 2-3).
What is there in Peter’s sermon that makes some use of this Pentecost imagery? Why did God choose Pentecost for the outpouring of the Spirit?
Bibliography: W. L. Knox, Acts, (NCB, Oxford: Clarendon, 1967), 80-84; N. Snaith, “Pentecost, the Day of Power,” ExpTim 43 (1931-32): 379-80; Mark J. Olson, “Pentecost,” ABD 5:222.
37 thoughts on “Acts 2 – Pentecost in the Book of Acts”
Repeating Joel’s words, Peter is speaking out the end times. Jesus himself says in Acts 1, “It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority.” If it was me as a Jewish man, I would be fearing for my life, thinking that the end times were near with all of the “gibberish” and different tongues speaking around me. Peter’s imagery reminds me of an equivalent a Billy Graham revival. We don’t know when Christ will come back to earth to rule and reign. Yet, we also do not know when God will pour his Spirit, and when it will invigorate us for the right time. It is only by those who can really bring it out, like Peter, Paul, and the other men of missions.
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
It does seem evident when looking at the context of the day of Pentecost during the Old Testament and that we can acknowledge parallels between it and the passage of Acts 2-3. Though there may not be a direct correlation mentioned between the giving of the first fruits and the accounts of Pentecost in Acts, but the outpouring of God’s Spirit and the resulting three thousand souls saved does show us the fruit of God working in people’s lives through the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 3 we read what Peter says to a lame man that they come across at the Beautiful Gate on the temple: “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” The language of Paul surrendering what he has to aid this man – the Holy Spirit’s power – sounds like there may be ties in his verbiage to the day of the Feast of Weeks celebrated by the Jews.
Being gathered together as they were and after receiving the Gospel and recognizing its power, it says that the people, “were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:45-47). If Pentecost was a time of declaring God’s ownership of the land, these believer’s actions declare that they knew everything was the Lord’s and therefore shared it among them, not selfishly holding onto “their own”.
Reblogged this on James' Ramblings.
I would argue that one of the reasons the Pentecost was chosen for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is because of the large gatherings and celebrations that happened during that time. There were a lot of people celebrating together and it made it an opportune time to teach to on Jesus and the Holy Spirit. For example, in Acts 2:5 there were Jews from every nation dwelling together in Jerusalem, and Polhill in the ESV notes suggests that this took place in the temple, the only place that could accommodate three thousand persons (2083). So, it was a very large group. After the Holy Spirit filled the believers, they came out to the temple and were speaking in tongues, but the Jews who did not believe could understand what they were saying in their own language, just as if someone was speaking in Portuguese and you understood them in English. The people did not know what it meant, and Peter took this opportunity given by God to teach on the Holy Spirit and the Messiah. The power that was displayed in what occurred caught the Jew’s interest and they listened, some became believers and were baptized (Acts 2:37-41), and then spread their new faith in their travels to their nations.
“Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1- 4). When the people were gathered at the Pentecost two things happen. The pouring of the Holy Spirit and the apostles receiving power. I believe that God chose the Pentecost as the setting for the pouring of the Holy Spirit because, during that time many believers were gathered at the Pentecost. “Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel” Exodus 34:23. When the people gathered they need to hear God’s word. Which is why the Pentecost was indeed the right place for the pouring of the spirit.
God works in so many different ways! I think that there are so many times that He does the impossible. He goes against science with so much of His works. I think that it is so easy to get caught up in daily duties that God can get lost within the mix of things. Pentecost was a day that God showed His power to remind them that He is still there. Throughout the events that take place, God is always there. The people were already celebrating the work that God did for them. It was the best time for God to make known to them that He was the God who was sovereign over their harvest. It is easy to take credit of something that we do without giving credit to where it belongs. God wants people to know that He was is the One that is sovereign over everything and that He is present in the midst of the people. People cannot look to themselves for salvation no matter how great they think they are. Peter says in Acts 2: 38, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the Holy Spirit.”
I believe that the reason that God chose Pentacost to pour out the spirit because of the large gathering of the Jews. People of the Jewish faith were gathered in Jerusalem from all parts of the known world during this time. This means that a large quantity of people were able to hear about the teachings and life of Jesus, and because of the disciples speaking in tongues, people from all nations could understand what was being taught. This meant that, with the amount of people who were hearing the gospel and having the ability to bring it back to their homelands, Jesus’ message could be spread faster to more people. Also, as you said in your blog, this time parallels when, it is thought, Moses was given the law.
These correlations bring up some interesting possibilities. The one thing that comes to mind is that God works everything according to his plans and his purposes. This feast would bring many people from various regions in order to obverse the holiday. The evidence and outcome that has been recorded through the scriptures is that many came to Christ at Pentecost. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Point being, God chose this time because the harvest would be the greatest. There is the possibility of a connection between Pentecost and Moses giving of the Law. Whether there is or not I do not see as very significant. However, the reason God chose Pentecost is the same reason any marketing business would want to get brands all of the New Years Eve ball drop in New York. Hundreds of thousands of people are watching the ball drop. As for Pentecost, the Scriptures detail the several different nations that are present when Peter stands up and addresses the crowd. Thus, the time in which the Holy Spirit comes is not by chance, but more of a strategic play that helps jump start the church.
Pentecost was an important time for the Israelite people. They took time to remember God’s grace and the first fruits He had provided for them. The first time Pentecost occurred was at Sinai when Moses presented the Israelites with the Ten Commandments. Most Christians today remember Pentecost as the time when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. Acts 2:3-4 says, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” Why is the timing of this event, during Pentecost, important? Is it? Some suggest it is significant “since Moses gave out the Law to Israel on this day, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to the church” (Long). In both the original and the Acts 2 record of the Pentecost, a gift was given from God to His people in order for them to better govern their lives. “As God constituted His people through the theophany and giving of Torah at Sinai, so now God marks out his people through this new theophany that is marked by the outpouring of the Spirit” (Jipp 41). The timing of this gift is important, because it directly mirrors the original Pentecost. In both cases, something descended to God’s people offering them guidance in their daily walk with Him. Also, in both situations God moves in a fiery way. In Exodus, He descended on Mount Sinai like fire (Exodus 19:18). In Acts, He descended on the disciples (Acts 2:3). The difference is that in Acts 2 God gave His people a new way to guide their lives. Instead of a set of rules, He gave Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit. Despite the differences, both were events that altered the believers’ lives.
Piggybacking off of Longs reference to the number three throughout Acts, it is interesting that Acts 1:7-8 describes three locations that the disciples will be witnesses in. Before Jesus ascended he specifically listed Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth as places that needed the Gospel. So the question is why these three specific regions or areas? According to the class notes, the history of the New Testament moves with the Holy Spirit (Long 3).First the gospel was presented to the Jews, then to the Gentiles and eventually to the known world. This shows the relationships between the different cultures that interacted with Jesus. The Jews were God’s chosen people and were waiting for the Messiah, they had direct influence and teaching concerning Jesus. The Gentiles knew Jesus by association but were not directly involved with the happenings of the Jewish faith. Those living at ‘the ends of the Earth’ (Ethiopia) probably had no connection or understanding of the religious differences that involved the Jews and the Gentiles. It is interesting that when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost, it showed itself as ‘divided tongues’ as of fire ( Acts 2:3). This can be interpreted as showing that even though the people gathered were of different nations, they were united by the Holy Spirit into the same kingdom of God. In my mind, I visualize each nation being represented by an individual tongue that was cut from the same whole object (fire), and when divided showed the individuality of the nations but when put together showed the completeness of God’s kingdom. Maybe I am reading to far into this analogy or metaphor but it does show how God is not limited by our human divisions or understanding.
One possible reason for the time of the outpouring of the Spirit was because of the diverse multitudes gathered. Acts 2:9-11 describe all those who were listening. Later in the chapter, in verse 41, it describes that three thousand of these people were saved. This means that after the holiday, these people would depart and return to their homes. This broad reach that these people had likely quickened the spread of the Gospel.
Another possible reason for this time was that the people were likely already mindful of God. Because this holiday was about giving their bounty to God and to declare His ownership, they may have been primed to receive the Gospel through their worship. They also set aside the time for God. Instead of focusing on work or everyday life, they had the time to listen to the disciples.
Another possible reason, as you mentioned, was the parallel of the commandments and the outpouring of the Spirit. Again, the first Pentecost was when Moses gave the people the ten commandments. So it may be fitting that at this Pentecost was when God gave the people the Holy Spirit. Correct me if I am wrong, but the first Pentecost was when the law was established, and the Pentecost when the Spirit came down was the beginning of the abolishment of the law.
It might also be a combination of some of these things. Maybe it would be strategic to have Pentecost on a holiday which many gather as well as it being summer. This would allow for more people to hear the word initially, and since it was summer with warmer weather and food likely easy to get ahold of, the spreading of the Gospel would be faster than if it were in winter. Also, since it was summer, travel may have been easier.
During this time of the Pentecost there were many other celebrations going on. Such as festivals. People come to festivals, and lots of them. This would be the perfect time for God to outpour His spirit. Throughout the bible there are instances where Jesus has the chance to speak/preach. Most of these instances come when there are crowds. And I think the significance of that is because it gives the point of, Jesus is really who He says He is. Not that you need a large crowd in order to spread the word of God, however, people just really needed to hear this. The blog states that during the festivals that I had stated above, these festivals were supposed to have the theme of “God declaring ownership of the land and his grace in bringing forth food.” Which I can only imagine, that when someone with authority such as God, using this as a theme, for a teaching, people will come to this. Just like in (Acts 2:23), “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and knowledge of God.” God had a plan for these festivals, why not make this the time to do it.
It seems that Pentecost was an extremely effective time for God to pour out His Spirit on the disciples because of the variety of people present at the event. There were apparently Jews present from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5 ESV). Since Jesus specifically mentioned that the gospel was to be spread first to the Jews, then to others (Acts 1:8), I read the account in Acts 2 as God’s way of creating an efficient means by which the disciples can get the gospel message outside the walls of Jerusalem. Just thinking about the idea of 12 men spreading the message of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins to the whole world is a daunting task, but if the first step in that process is converting 3,000 Jews from many countries, then the task becomes much more manageable. Could God have chosen another time to pour out His Spirit? Of course! But this specific celebration seems to be logistically efficient and helpful for the disciples. Had the message not been given to those who would leave Jerusalem and go to other counties, there is perhaps a chance that the persecution from the Sannheddrin and Saul would have wiped out the outstanding church in Jerusalem. Regardless, it seems to me to just be a logical place to start.
It is an interesting and thought-provoking question– “Why is Pentecost the time God chose for the outpouring of the Spirit?” I think that the answer is summed up in basically one statement or sentence in this post. Pentecost was the Jewish celebration of when Moses received the Law from God, so I believe that the Holy Spirit intended to descend at Pentecost in Acts 2 to represent the receiving of the Law to Moses and the Jews in Exodus 19. The imagery plays an important part in this when Luke writes that the Spirit descended like tongues of fire, I believe he was intentional in including that in the passage because of the fire that was pouring down when Moses received the Law. Thus, Luke, being a Jew himself, wrote of that imagery to connect the receiving of the Spirit in Acts 2 with the receiving of the Law to Moses in Exodus. Furthermore, I believe the Spirit intended to descend specifically in Acts 2 because Pentecost, being an instrumentally important Jewish celebration festival, had a large gathering of Jews for whom the Spirit could potentially dwell in not long after the death of Christ as a powerful display of God’s glory. Imagery is very important, I agree at least, for this passage and it is very important to understand the history and background of Israel in order to better understand the context and narrative depicted in Acts 2.
God’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost had a few specific intentions. First off, God intended on pouring out His Holy Spirit to the believers during this time that they might see its power on display through the teaching. The disciples were looking and waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; although they did not know what that would look like. God chose this time because He wanted to answers the disciple’s questions and concerns about what the Holy Spirit could do and how it would change them as individuals. Secondly, Pentecost drew in many people and Jews that would be impacted by the Holy Spirit’s work through the disciples. Additionally, the crowd there at Pentecost would be the same crowd that was in Jerusalem for Passover. These people, while perhaps not aware of Jesus’ ministry, would certainly be familiar with his crucification. The familiarity of the crowd to the death of Christ meant that Peter’s words to the crowd would not be misunderstood. Furthermore, the references that he makes to Scripture would also be understood by a crowd of Jews that would be aware of the Scriptures. Thirdly, the Pentecost, as mentioned by Dr. Long, coincided with the time at which the Law was given to Moses. This imagery reveals the obvious turning from the old law to the new law. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost pointed the disciples and the Jews in the crowd to Jesus’ sacrifice, God’s intentions, and the Holy Spirit’s power.
A good point is brought up in this post, after the fact, making a reader think about the potential reasoning for the timing of the outpouring of the spirit to occur during Pentecost. Without much thought some people may assume that everything occurring at this time was simply a coincidence with little meaning. Personally, I think the reason everything happened right at Pentecost was not a coincidence at all. There may have been some strategy of this events placement in history on God’s part. We know from biblical texts, like Acts 2, that the Pentecost was a large gathering of people coming together 50 days after the Passover. During this time period Jesus was crucified, buried, rose again, and ascended (a lot to happen in a short period of time). The reason I think it is important that the Holy Spirit poured out to people at this specific time was because of the opportunity that existed, sharing the message to people of many tongues and various nations at a large gathering such as this. After this “fire” came to the people they now had the message of Christ and could share it with others when they went back to their homes away from their families in other nations. If the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension would have happened at any other time we might not see the same spread of the gospel and Christianity might not look the same. God knew exactly when to have this all occur and he chose the perfect time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to happen, for his will to be done.
There is definitely a significance to the fulfilling of the Holy Spirit happening on the day of Pentecost. For my Biblical Interpretation class, I wrote my final paper on Acts 2:1-13. After reading several different commentaries as well as other sources I came to the conclusion that Pentecost is significant in this passage for a few different reasons. One of these reasons is that the festival Pentecost was when the Israelites celebrated Moses being given the law on Mount Sinai. When the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit it was the beginning of the new law. The Jewish faith was no longer relevant. From that point forward anyone who asked God for forgiveness and accepted Him as their savior was saved and was a part of the church. In Jeremiah 31:33 the Lord says, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” He is referring to us being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is also believed that the book of Ruth took place during Pentecost. Ruth converted to Judaism and was an ancestor of King David.‘“There may also be a messianic significance in the choice of this work, i.e., that all the world will turn to Judaism eventually”’ (Long). Because of the new law written on our hearts, anyone can become a part of the body of Christ.
If Pentecost is celebrated on the day Moses received the Law, this makes sense why the Holy Spirit would be poured out on that same day. The Law of Moses was given to Israel as a covenant between the Lord and His people. In Acts 2:17, Peter refers to the prophet Joel, saying that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit would signal the starting of a new messianic age (Polhill, p. 2084).
As the Holy Spirit comes, we see that this moment is long anticipated. Not only from when Jesus ascended, but since the prophets spoke long ago. I think God chose Pentecost for the outpouring because it is marking to the prophecies and beliefs of a new time beginning to rise. This helps us see the fulfillment of the prophecies in full circle.
Peter’s sermon refers to Joel’s prophecy which has rich imagery within the scripture. In Acts 2:33, Peter describes the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in order for the believers to see and hear. The outpouring gives us the picture of something God has been awaiting, yet something that cannot be contained. No man can stop an outpouring, especially of God’s Spirit.
Another example of imagery is the “darkened sun and bloody moon.” Although it may not be literal, but it shows how all the earth will be consumed, following the descriptions that those who put their trust in Jesus will be saved (Polhill, p. 2084).
Pentecost is a marking of a new promise of the Lord being fulfilled. Pentecost is a start of a new era, one where the people of God are marked by His Holy Spirit. This results in many people getting saved and healed, bringing the glory to the One who paid it all.
As we read scripture, and delve deep into the word. It could be easy to over look simple questions. Maybe, not even knowing that we are able to ask questions. As someone who enjoys taking deep dives into studying scripture, I can easily get caught up in the dense theological topics and questions we face that cause for endless research, where most times you never really find a satisfying answer. But even the “simple”, yet also no so simple, question “What is the significance of the time?” can reveal a lot of great conversation and mystery. Wondering and pondering the mystery of the word. It doesn’t give us an answer explicitly, so then we try to understand implicitly what might be the answer, or hopefully find the answer that is most fitting. “Why did God chose Pentecost for the outpouring of His Spirit?” (Long). Many great, and possible point are brought up. It seems to me that the most probable answer to “Why God chose Pentecost” is that it was a the next occasion, or event where the most amount of people would come together in one place, and where God had a large, diverse group of people to further spread the gospel and even show the diversity of the body of Christ, not being exclusive to those willing to believe. The more inplicit ideas are that Pentecost was a festival of offering first fruits and God’s ownership of the land. In a way the first fruits of the harvest are those who were the first to receive the Holy Spirit. Another reason is what I think to be the most allusive idea is the connection to the law being given to Moses at this time, and now God giving the Holy Spirit. I don’t think any of these are damaging to the context of the passage, and infer great points. I think all of them actually bring out marvelous perspective of the passage. It could be possible that we are wrong, and maybe we’re way off of the reason God chose Pentecost. Is it also possible all these perspective have some merit to them. Maybe fully, maybe some more than others, or maybe a slight combination of each. No matter the fact, I find it comforting that although this is a challenging question to answer. Everything God does, he does for His own glory, and means for good to proceed from his purpose.
This is by no means meant to be cynical, but the choice of God to send His Spirit upon the apostles on Pentecost may have been entirely practical. The apostles had been commissioned to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:16- 20), and the gatherings of people for Pentecost serves as an excellent opportunity for that to happen. After all, “Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians” (Acts 2:9-11) all just happen to be within earshot of the apostles when the Holy Spirit arrives. These are just the sort of people who happened to be nearby during this occurrence, and there may have been even more nationalities and cities represented elsewhere in Jerusalem. With the Spirit showing up at Pentecost, there is an immediate opportunity for the apostles to reach people who have traveled great distances and (presumably) will be returning back to their own locals soon. This means not only are their great crowds there to receive the gospel, but by the nature of the event that caused there to be great crowds, the gospel is then going to be spread abroad. While I agree that there is probably a great deal of spiritual significance to the timing, I just wanted to highlight how practical it is from an evangelism perspective as well.
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is an extremely important part of Christian history. At this event, the coming of the Holy Spirit fulfilled of a prophecy in the Old Testament as stated by Joel. In Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:16-17, he states, “But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” (English Standard Version). I believe that there was no coincidence in the timing of this event because God is a God of order, and He has a specific plan for everything. The coming of the Holy Spirit was necessary to occur after Christ’s death and resurrection, which had occurred within 50 days of each other. Once Christ had died and was resurrected, the Holy Spirit needed to come to dwell inside of believers in order to expand God’s kingdom. As Peter mentioned, the last days were inaugurated at the start of the Pentecost, so now we are waiting for the second coming of Christ and it is our responsibility to expand the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit that lives within believers plays an instrumental part in witnessing to others in order for us to tell others the truth about God and our savior Jesus Christ. I believe that the significance of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is because there was a large gathering of people from many tongues and nations when this occurred. Acts 2:8-11 discusses a long list of nations which signified different nations becoming witnesses for what has occurred. Polhill states that at the time of Pentecost, the converts were mainly Jewish, so a worldwide convert began at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (p. 2083).
God chose Pentecost, in my opinion, for one simple reason. When you think about Pentecost, you obviously would think about how many people (Jews/believers) would be attending this event. This event, as stated above, was a giant event that would’ve been celebrated by many Jews along with Shavuot. I hate making statements like this, but anyway, if I was God it would make perfect and logical sense to release your spirit onto the hundred (plus) group of Jews especially because there were a significant number of them in one area at one time. Also, if the disciples who will be recording this would be present. Not only would there be a significant number of Jews in this location, but this event was also a huge celebration for Jews as well. There was a lot of meaning to this day. Acts 2:1 (Footnotes) “Pentecost was the second of the annual harvest festivals, come 50 days after Passover” (Polhill, 2082). In Peter’s sermon after, we see many things being used for Pentecost in terms of imagery. The biggest one in my opinion is when Peter calls out the crowd for killing the messiah. Basically, he is saying that Jesus did what He said He was going to do, and even though they were acting out of ignorance, they still killed Him by their shouting to “crucify Him”. Jesus even declared and told the people that He will send His spirit down to indwell in people, so Peter bringing light to that is huge in this sermon. Peter also referenced the scriptures of Joel and David to also confirm that the Spirit would come down, and Jesus would raise from the dead.
I had never put too much thought into what Pentecost was when I read about it in Acts. It was something that I kind of passed over and did not realize that there was so much significance to the Jewish festival. Something that really took me by surprise in the blog was that the book of Ruth is read during the festival. As the blog post points out, there are many valid reasons for why this may be. The one that strikes me the most is the theory that it is read because Ruth was a convert to Judaism and that the whole world may turn to Judaism. I think that this is very interesting because there are many other books of the Bible that could be read instead, but Ruth is still chosen. Another part of the blog that really made me think was why Luke decided to mention Pentecost multiple times throughout the book of Acts because there could be multiple different reasons. One theory that I liked was from Keener, which talked about how there was not a big significance to mentioning this other than the fact that it lets the readers know that it was shortly after Passover and it provides an explanation for the large crowd. I think that this is the easy answer, but I would like there to be more. We can see in different parts of the book of Acts that people are given the Holy Spirit (Acts 2 and Acts 10) with mentions of Pentecost. I think that there may be a more significant reason for mentioning Pentecost than just providing context for readers.
It is key to recognize the salience of Pentecost in the culture of the people during Bible times.. Pentecost was heavily celebrated by the Jews in this time of history. Reading Acts 2 we know there are roughly 3000 people listening to Peter preach.(Polhill) With the Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Weeks it brought large amounts of Jews from all over the area which created a crowd to preach to. Jews would have known who Jesus was and most likely heard of His resurrection by this time. At the end of the article there was the question “Why did God choose Pentecost for the outpouring of the Spirit?” I could not help but think that this was the most perfect time for this. With the large number of Jews being present it created a perfect scene for Peter to share the gospel and convert these God fearing people, creating a perfect scene to welcome the Spirit. This crowd of Jews was a mixture of converted and blood Jews who were there to worship God. After listening to Peter their hearts were in the right place for receiving the Spirit. This group of Jews was a portion of God’s chosen people and why would God not want to outpour His spirit on them? A closing thought about the outpouring of God’s Spirit. The notes from class states “A new age begins, but is not consummated”. As the Spirit is given to this group of born again believers a “new age” has begun for God’s people and it is unlike any other age.
The Day of Pentecost is by far one of the most significant yet one of the most perhaps underrated and overlooked events in all of scripture. The act of the Holy Spirit coming down upon the 3,000 people is truly breathtaking and miraculous and it is a huge turning point for the church. The gift of the Holy Spirit was foretold by Jesus and the people were expectant- once the Holy Spirit came down, it was a promise kept and fulfilled. Perhaps the choice of Pentecost for the outpouring of the Spirit was due to the large number of people that were present. It’s not that God is a big fan of spectacle and needed as many witnesses as possible, but the fact that several people were present was important for not only having several people witness this event and be equipped to share the gospel and Holy Spirit with others but to show the world that the Kingdom of God is alive, active and forthcoming, and the work that Jesus had done not end with His death on the cross, that was just the beginning. It also helps that the Pentecost was a well regarded Jewish celebration, and now the concept of Pentecost has an entirely different level of significance. It was now up to these people who have received the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel to all the nations.
To answer the question about what the most significant part of Peters Serman was would be when people were filled with the holy spirit, and they started talking in their native tongues. Some people were questioning and then others were mocking those people who were filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter stood up for those people by saying the words of the prophet Joel (Acts 2:15-21). I think that this was one of the most important parts of Peter’s sermon because he told people they were wrong which is very risky when wanting to reach them with the message. But this is also how the sermon started due to the uproar of confusion. I think that God chose Pentecost because it was a time when there were a lot of people around the passage says that it was a time when people gathered in the temples. So, the people were already in the temple and there were a lot of people there. The ESV talks about the event in the sub notes like this event turned into an event when the Holy Spirit came into play and the reactions of the Jews who were also there. This helps because it shows that maybe God wanted others to be around when He gave His people the Holy Spirit so that they could question it and hear the sermon on what just happened.
The Pentecost in the Book of Acts is one of the most important things to happen in Christian history. This is because it commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks. With all of this being said it is important to know that the significance of this even happening is what follows the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, which marks the beginning of the Christian church’s mission to the world. All of this can answer the question of: Why did God choose Pentecost for the outpouring of the Spirit? God choose this to happen because he wants people to know his power and his presence among us. The Holy Spirit will empower us to be witnesses to Christ’s presence among us and His message. We all know the message is the forgiveness of our sins. Following what Long put in his blog talking more on Acts 2 and 3 and how important it is, he says, “the day represents the largest crowd in the Temple area since Passover fifty days before. Peter and the other apostles will be able to preach to large crowds of Jews gathered to worship God in the Temple” (Long). When we look at what the Bible says about the Pentecost it comes straight from Acts in verse 1 which says, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (King James Version). Reading through Scripture we can see this was one the most important things to happen in the Bible, it shows much significance to God and how powerful he is as well. It is also important to know Peter’s message on the day of the Pentecost because he responds by giving specific instructions to God’s covenant people, with his message being to repent in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, which in turn you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Pentecost in the Book of Acts is important to read and remember for the many gifts of God and the dying and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Peter’s sermon they were all sitting with divided tongues as fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. They were then filled with the Holy Spirit. This is in the beginning of acts 2 and I believe this is one of the most significant parts of his sermon. Peter then lifted his voice and addressed them, giving ear to his words and spoke through the prophet of Joel. This was significant as he spoke of scriptural proofs, which is mentioned in the ESV notes. Why did God choose the pentecost for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? After reading Acts 2 and this blog it is unclear to me why He chose the pentecost. What is clear is that the filling and outpouring of the Holy Spirit was something that was promised and it doesn’t mean there was no Holy Spirit previous to this. The Holy Spirit was being introduced to people in a new and more powerful way, this signified the coming of the covenant age. These were notes mentioned in the ESV study bible that helped me better understand the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today the pentecost is still celebrated by a lot of Christians, we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit and it is celebrated on the 50th day after Easter Sunday. I have not been that up to date with the pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, this blog was very informative to my understanding of Acts 2.
Mr. Long shares in his blog post that Pentecost (Feast of Weaks) occurs fifty days after Passover. Pentecost is the second of the three main agricultural festivals of Judaism (Polhill, 2008, 2082). It is seen as a time of harvest and thanksgiving towards God’s blessings. The outpouring of the spirit described in Acts 2 is considered to be a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples after his ascension as described in Joel 2:28-32, and Matthew 3:11 (Polhill, 2008, 2082). I believe that the timing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost may have served to emphasize the idea that the gospel message was intended for all nations, not just the Jewish people. The diverse crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the festival would have included people from many different cultural groups, making it an ideal setting for the spreading of the gospel. In this way, the choice of Pentecost as the occasion for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit would have emphasized the gospel message and the inclusive nature of God’s love and salvation. The Holy Spirit came upon the people in a way in which they did not know how to react. There was a lot of confusion amongst the people. Peter in his speech to the people in Acts 2, was told in a way for all the people, not just the Jews, to hear and see the Power of God, the Holy Spirit. Reading this blog post and walking through Acts 2 has allowed me to obtain a better and clearer understanding of the coming of the Holy Spirit that is celebrated by many Christians on Pentecost every year.
Long makes it clear that Pentecost offered a situation and opportunity that would’ve been otherwise unavailable. Jews from various regions, and all across the world, came together as one large group (Polhill). It was, as one body of Jews, that the Holy Spirit was poured out among them; and, after Pentecost, they all went out, returning to their homes or going elsewhere. God didn’t fill everyone with the Holy Spirit while they were separated and distant from one another, he intentionally chose a time when thousands of his people would be joined together as one body. Acts 2:6 says, “And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.” It’s clear that having one large, diverse group all experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit was a way to unify the Jews. No longer were they separated by language or distance, rather, they were all together and able to fully understand one another. This displayed the unifying power of the Holy Spirit.
Although there may be other significance or symbolism to why God chose Pentecost to present his Holy Spirit to the people, I think it’s clear that Pentecost offered a unique opportunity to unify the Jews in a way that would otherwise be impossible. It would be easy to say that God chose Pentecost out of convenience or out of practicality, but I think he chose it out of significance. It was an event that was already significant for the Jews as they were travelling from far distances to come together as one group. By using this valuable time, God was able to offer them something more than they could have ever expected. Toward the end of Acts 2 in the ESV Study Bible, there’s a heading that states, “The Fellowship of the Believers” (p. 2085). This points to the Jews unification and ability to not only speak and relate to one another, but to truly fellowship. Acts 2:43-44 says, “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” God didn’t just choose Pentecost out of convenience, he chose it as a significant place to show his people his awesome power. And, as they were experiencing this awe and amazement, they were joined together as believers in fellowship.
You talk a lot about the various significance scholars ascribe to the day of pentecost in this chapter. Yet you end with stating that there is likely little meaning to this coincidence. Growing up, I fell into the same tendency as most people that this Pentecost event was quite significant. Yet now I see the reality that there is only one thing that makes this event significant. This marks the beginning of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In a response to one of last week’s blog posts, I claimed that the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit’s initial appearance in the story here in Acts chapter 2 makes sense in that regard. Chapter 1 set the stage for the story in the aftermath of the ascension of Jesus. Chapter 2 is the arrival of our main character and the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the world.
So how would I say God uses the scene of Pentecost to enhance his story? I’ll at least observe the pattern noted by some scholars. The gift of the law at Mt. Sinai could have been 50 days after the passover, a pattern repeated with the bestowal of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. It is difficult to write this off as mere coincidence knowing that there is an author behind these events. I think I tend to believe in the intentionality behind such coincidences, though I still couldn’t tell you what their meaning is.
When reading the blog post Acts 2 – Pentecost in the Book of Acts there were many things to learn from it that your typical Sunday school neglects to dive into. I love the stance and interpretation that it takes referring to it as “God’s ownership of the land and his grace in bringing forth food” (Sanders, Judaism, 139). It brings forth such a sweet submission of the things that the followers of Jesus had been blessed with that year. Although we often neglect to practice and remember the Pentecost some of these practices are reflected in the disciplines Christians commonly practice today. One of the most major foundational disciplines that is practiced in homes today is prayer before a meal. Families bow their heads around the table, hold hands and thank God his blessings and commonly the food on the table and roof above their heads, and familiar?
While this is a common parallel, a totally separate topic that must be addressed is the importance of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. While some scholars try to deny this statement it proves to be true. We see throughout these verses and scripture the spirit coming onto different people groups who follow Jesus in waves. The “outpouring” is mentioned multiples and is backed by the witnessing of speaking in tongues, and shouts of joy. It also does align as Long states that Moses gave the Law on that day so that then Jesus too gives the gift of the spirit to his followers.
Throughout so many events in the New Testament, especially in the Gospels as well as Acts I find many instances of recapitulation. Not that I prescribe to that theory of the atonement necessarily but there is some merit in that. Jesus being the perfect recap Adam in that he is a first “new man” and instead of leading us into sin He leads us out from it. Jesus as well being like that of Moses who led the Children of Israel out of Slavery after 400 years, Jesus himself leading us out of sin 400 years after the prophets as an additional recap. It makes much sense for God to use both Passover and Pentecost as days for both the atonement as well as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Like Passover Jesus makes the necessary sacrifice to cover our sins, and like Moses giving the law on Pentecost, Peter makes known the new law we are under, the Law of the Spirit. Peter makes use of the imagery of Pentecost and offerings in Acts 2:17-21 with the “pouring out of my Spirit” quoting the prophet Joel. Now is a movement into the new age of the Messiah, we are now as Paul would put it later in Romans 12:1, living sacrifices to God. We are to offer ourselves up to Him and are in the process of being sanctified and conformed to the image of His son.
The Pentecost and the Passover, the timing of them, the reasons, and all of the other things about these occasions I didn’t mention have never been something I was taught either in church or Sunday school, so reading this post has been so insightful. Knowing which holiday starts and ends the fifty days, knowing what the Week of Feasts was, and also knowing what Shavout means made reading Acts 2 and understanding it that much more interesting. When Long included the paragraph about how Ruth was read each year was interesting. You don’t normally associate the book of Ruth to be involved in something that was introduced in the New Testament, but Long explains this because Ruth was a convert to Judaism as well as she was to redeem the lineage of King David.
Another thing I found interesting in this blog is that there are three references to the Pentecost and Long references that this is a reoccuring theme for Luke to recount occurences three times. One of the questions that you asked us: why did God choose Pentecost for the outpouring of the Spirit, can be answered by looking at the power and presence God wanted us to feel when the Holy Spirit was finally poured out and showed to others that it is something we can feel.
It was extremely interesting to learn about the Feast of Weeks and how it occurs after Passover at 7 weeks. God in His amazing grace revealed to the Jewish people His provision of land to them and made it prosper. I also think it’s interesting how God seems to be into numbers and attaches meaning to them. God is not a God of confusion but of organization and structure (1 Cor 14:33) and I personally believe that He carries meaning and purpose in every single thing He creates because that is just how awesome He is. If He numbers the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7) and cares about the sparrows when they fall (Matthew 10:29-31) I know that God has purpose and meaning in all His creation. All this to say that I do think that Moses’ giving of the law to the Jews is parallel with Christ allowing the Body of Christ to receive the Holy Spirit. I liked how P. Long brought up the similarities and comparisons between Exodus 19:18 and Acts 2 and also brought up how the beginning of the harvest is also like when the believers received the Holy Spirit and what a great joy and celebration that was and still is! I can’t help but think of how the first fruits during the harvest represent and correlate to the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 and how ironic that is. In this whole paragraph, I wanted to emphasize my opinion on how and why I believe that God decided to give the Holy Spirit on Pentecost! It’s because He’s beyond amazing and has meaning and purpose in all that He does.
I would guess a few different reasons for why God would choose Pentecost for the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. One thing that would make an obvious impact was the number of people gathered at the time. “Pentecost was the second of the annual harvest festivals, coming 50 days after Passover” (Polhill, p. 2082). With this in mind, Passover happened right before Jesus’ death and resurrection, so it would not make sense to have the outpouring during this festival if God was going to take advantage of the natural amount of crowds in town. The next best time is during Pentecost. Also, it was not time for the outpouring until after Jesus had left them, which he didn’t do until 40 days after resurrecting. Being only 10 days, it was just enough time that God allowed space for the disciples to pray and wait with anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. I also imagine that God, often working as part of some sort of themes or familiarity, may have been drawing from the tradition of Moses bringing down the law in Exodus, then bringing them the Holy Spirit in Acts.