All Together in One Place – Acts 2

Icon of the Pentecost

Icon of the Pentecost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. – Acts 2:1

This verse is the subject of so very much misunderstanding, contention and disagreement. For now, we will focus on what this “one place” means. Some people are stuck on the “upper room” of Acts 1:13. But that just does not work. The attraction of attention that follows in the verses to come because of the sounds of voices indicates that they were present in some publicly accessible place. Some house with a large courtyard or very close to a large area of the temple compound is most likely where the maximum amount of pilgrims who speak other languages would be able to hear what happened.

The next question, of course, is who “they” refers to in the above verse. Again, there are many who are stuck, in this case on the 120 people mentioned in Acts 1:15. But that does not work either for more than one reason. It has now been 10 days since Jesus ascended to heaven. Before the early church fathers started putting chapter divisions in the Books of the New Testament, context for that first verse above would be easier. The comments of Don Dewelt and J.W. McGarvey do a good job of explaining this:

“The persons thus assembled together and filled with the Holy Spirit were not, as many have supposed, the one hundred and twenty disciples mentioned in a parenthesis in the preceding chapter, but the twelve apostles. This is made certain by the grammatical connection between the first verse of this chapter and the last of the preceding. (J.W. McGarvey, The Acts of the Apostles, Cincinnati, Standard Publishing Company,” 1892)

“The fact that the antecedent of any pronoun is found by referring back to the nearest noun (or pronoun) with which it agrees in number etc., clenches the argument of the baptism of only the apostle’s in the Holy Spirit.” (Don Dewelt, Acts Made Actual, Joplin, Missouri, College Press, 1958)

And the last verse of Chapter one says:

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

English: The Pentecost Mosaic, in the center i...

What happened was the sound of a mighty rush of wind (not actual wind) filling the house, and divided tongues “as of fire” rested on each one of the apostles (not literal fire – but resembling fire). They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Then we are told that (especially because of Passover) there were devout men from every nation dwelling in Jerusalem; and a multitude of them heard what was happening and came to see and hear for themselves.

Each of them heard the apostles speaking in their own language. Verses 9-11 name a laundry list of countries with different languages that the people hailed from. Of course, they were amazed; and then something important was said: “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

That is another clue that only the Apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit on this occasion. The fact that all of them were Galileans could only fit with the Apostles themselves. Even if it were possible that the 120 people who others insist upon were all from Galilee, these people could not identify so many as being so!  Also, Jesus Himself made a promise only to the apostles that “the Helper” would come, and they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, Acts 1:5).

Why is it important to understand that? This “Helper” that they receive will be with them forever (John 14:16), so they would have the power and understanding that the Lord intended for them to have to perfect the word of God and His church before they all are done on this earth. This was the responsibility of the Apostles, as His chosen messengers.

The ability at this time to speak in other tongues was no parlor trick either. It served to show many people from many nations that this was an act of God, and that these men were speaking for the Lord. Each of them would return eventually to their lands, and the gospel would literally spread like wildfire – getting its first big opening boost from this day.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Ten Days Until Pentecost – Acts 1

It is in verse 12 that Luke’s account of the time between the ascension of Jesus into heaven and the day of Pentecost seems to confuse a great many people. It begins with the apostles returning to Jerusalem after Jesus has gone from the mount called Olivet. The text says that it was a “Sabbath day’s journey.” According to rabbinic law, Jews were prohibited from walking anywhere that was beyond what would amount to a little more than a half mile. The generally accepted length of this Pharisaic law is about 2000 cubits. A more important point at this juncture is that from the day of Jesus’ ascension to heaven until the Day of Pentecost (next chapter) is 10 days. File that away for now.

English: Mount of Olives.

English: Mount of Olives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in Jerusalem in verse 13, the apostles went up to the upper room, where they were staying. The text then names them – all eleven of the remaining apostles. Eleven apostles staying in one upper room. A little crowded perhaps, but not overwhelmingly so, especially for the times. The next verse tells of how they were “with one accord devoting themselves to prayer together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers.”

Uncannily, some scholars have taken that to mean that all of those women, as well as Jesus’ mother and brothers were staying in that room as well! We find that utterly preposterous. Forgetting the impropriety of such an arrangement in the first place, this upper room was not a high school gymnasium, after all! It would have been cramped  for just the eleven.  They were staying there, but naturally they would not spend all of their time in that room. Jesus hadn’t commanded them not to leave their room. No, the verse was not saying they were doing all of those things in that small room. Luke is merely describing how they spent their days while waiting for this “power” from the Holy Spirit.

Then, in verse 15, Luke says  “In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120)…” Even more incredibly, many scholars even place the entire 120 of them inside that upper room! One has to wonder just what sort of upper room these people are imagining – not to mention, just what sort of building! The term translated “in those days” merely means that the action being spoken of occurred during the time period contextually. So we are not talking about the apostles coming back from Olivet, doing some praying, and then Peter getting up to make a speech all in the same room and on the same day.

At this point, one might ask, “so what?” Indeed, why is any of this important? It will become quite important when we begin chapter 2 next week, and we will refer back to this. For now, it is enough to realize that the apostles were not sharing that upper room with half of a village, nor were they spending all of their time every day there for 10 days. It was a place to sleep and/or eat.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Acts 2 – Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

At Pentecost, a priest presented two loaves of leavened bread, representing the thanks of all Israelites. It also commemorated the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.

There were three annual feasts at which Mosaic Law required every male to be present – Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles.    The Feast of Weeks was also known as the firstfruits of wheat Harvest, the Feat of Ingathering (Exodus 34:22-23, Numbers 28:26-31), and Pentecost.  Pentecost also commemorated the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.  The day of Pentecost was the fiftieth day after Passover.  The name comes from a Greek adjective meaning “fiftieth.”  In this instance, counting up from Passover fifty days, the day fell on Sunday.  Jesus was crucified on Friday.  Appropriately, both His resurrection and the Holy Spirit immersion for the Apostles both occurred on Sunday.

The first four verses describe one of the most momentous occasions in the entire Bible.  The description of the sound and of the visual display – “rested on each one of them” – is of an awesome event, but what happened was much more magnificent than just this spectacular sensory description.  Some commentators ascribe what took place in these verses to have happened to about 120 people.  But in doing so, one has to take the context of  verse 1 (“they were all together in one place”) all the way back to the 15th verse of chapter one.  But the actual context of verse 1 is more properly associated with the verses just prior to it, particularly verse 26 – the last verse of chapter one (“And they” – the apostles – “cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”)  It is helpful to remember that the chapter divisions are not inspired, but made later by ordinary men (and sometimes in unfortunate  placement of location in the text).

This Holy Spirit baptism was for the twelve apostles, and it was expected and foretold for them alone by Jesus in several verses (Luke 24:49, John 14:26, and Acts 1:4-5, to name a few).  The power (to which Jesus referred) that it gave to them was the ability to recall all that He had taught them and finally understand the whole true meaning of His words.  It was the power to understand the full meaning of His death and resurrection, and to know with certainty the whole truth about the will of God and what is expected of us. It provided the very basis of the authority for the teaching of the Apostles from that point forward.  From this moment forward, that authority is evident in even the way they speak, for they speak for the Lord.

The significance of the Apostles speaking in other tongues on this occasion was two-fold.  First, Luke tells us in verses 5 and 9-11 that there were people from a list of nations that named most of the Roman world of the first century.  The “sound like a mighty rushing wind” and that of the twelve Apostles speaking in other languages quickly attracted a “multitude” of people, a great many of whom were amazed, as each heard them speaking in his own language.  Getting the attention of such a large number of people was undoubtedly one of the goals.  But just as importantly, what they witnessed proved that “the mighty works of God” (verse 11) being spoken of were voiced by authority not coming from ordinary men.

Tomb of David; one traditional site; Bethlehem.

Peter begins his sermon by telling them that what they were witnesses to was prophesied by Joel (Joel 2:28-32).  Then he begins telling them about Jesus, how David prophesied of his death and his resurrection without his flesh seeing corruption.  He quotes David from Psalm 110 and Psalm 16:8-11.  Then in verse 36, he tells them that they crucified the Messiah – the one that God had made “Lord and Christ.”  Verse 37 says they were cut to the heart, and wanted to know what they should do.  Verses 38-39 were the most important answer to any question ever asked:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

The church was begun that very day with “about three thousand souls” being added!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Joel 2 – The Day of the Lord

Joel 2 begins in verses 1-11 with reference to the locust plague that brought terrible destruction, and warns of even worse judgment.  Verse 12 is a call for repentance.  There is still time to avoid disaster.  As has always been the case, the Lord gives the people hope if they will only repent.  Verses 28-32 are quoted by Peter in his sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2:16-21.  The time of revelation and prophecy that Joel points to in verses 28-29 will be followed by a time of destruction (verses 30-31).

The prophet Joel

The prophet Joel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But verse 32 says that those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  In Peter’s sermon, this is echoed as he continues, culminating in Acts 2:38, where he names the method for “calling on the name of the Lord” in both the first century and today – “repent and be baptized.”  Here in verse 32 of Joel the words are “the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”  In Acts 2:39, he says that “the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.