Articles – Acts 2

Acts 2 “The Day of Pentecost”


“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).

It would be hard to overestimate the importance of Acts chapter two. James D. Bales (a well-known preacher of yesteryear) wrote a handy little volume on Acts called The Hub of the Bible. Like the hub on a wagon wheel, the spokes extending from the hub are absolutely essential to the proper working and use of the wheel. If even one spoke is broken, then the value and safety of the wheel is compromised. Just so, there are a number of “spokes” extending from Acts 2. These spokes are essential to a correct understanding of the rest of the NT. That is a bold statement; I believe it is true; I believe it can easily be illustrated by examining what Acts two teaches and by examining the far- reaching consequences of the establishment of the Lord’s church, the sending forth of the Holy Spirit of God, the preaching of the gospel in the name of Jesus Christ, and the terms of salvation that are enjoined upon all men. Let’s begin our study from Acts two, the Bible “hub.”

Acts two tell us the time and place of the fulfillment of the promise to baptize the apostles in the Holy Spirit. This was a promise made through John the Baptist early in his ministry as the forerunner of Jesus. Matthew 3:11 says: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Jesus reiterated this promise shortly before His ascension (Acts 1:4-5). The kingdom, Jesus said, would come with power (Mark 9:1). The power came on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the apostles (Acts 2:1-4). Inescapably, the kingdom came or was established on Pentecost. This is what Jesus promised (Matthew 16:18-19).

By reading John fourteen through sixteen, we can see that the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles was a specific promise made to the group of men that Jesus chose to be His ambassadors in carrying the gospel into all the world. The promise of the Holy Spirit in this case was specific to the apostles; only the apostles received the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost; they, by the power of the Spirit, spoke in tongues/languages as they preached the first sermon in the name of the risen Savior. Pentecost brought spiritual life, fellowship with the Savior, and the blessings of salvation. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come” is a statement full of meaning for you and me.        Randy Harshbarger – August 4, 2013

Acts 2  “Speaking in Tongues”


“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). The time came for the unfolding of prophecy. There is a preciseness to Luke’s narrative. The disciples were in an “upper room” (Acts 1:13). Acts 2:46 says they were in the temple (see Luke 24:53). The place(s) occupied by these early disciples probably changed; the time of the events of Acts two, though, is precise.

There are two meanings to Pentecost; one is agricultural, the other is historical. In the beginning Pentecost came in the middle of three Jewish harvest festivals. Deuteronomy 16:16 says: “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.” Exodus 23:16 says: “and the Feast of Harvest, the first fruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.” When all the grain had been gathered, there was a celebration—Feast of Harvest. This was Pentecost because it occurred seven weeks or fifty days after Passover. Later in the OT, Pentecost came to be celebrated as the anniversary of the giving of the Law of Moses at Sinai; that is, the Law of Moses was supposedly given fifty days after the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. While it is tempting to find symbolism in the harvest of Pentecost and the great harvest of souls on this particular Pentecost, that is probably saying more than the Bible says.

What happened on the Pentecost of Acts 2? First, Luke says that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). This was a great event. This supernatural occurrence was not at first understood by the people in Jerusalem. They were confused because they heard the apostles speaking in languages that they, the people, understood (2:6). They asked what does this mean? (2:12). Were the apostles drunk? They were just ignorant Galileans; how could they speak in other known tongues, languages that the gathered people recognized?

Whatever the apostles were doing, it was not the result of being drunk. “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day” (Acts 2:15). It would have been atypical for most citizens of Jerusalem to imbibe that early in the morning. Maybe, though, the auditors were simply hearing wrong things. “And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?” (Acts 2:8). Speaking in tongues was joined with hearing and understanding the tongues. Or, maybe Luke just got mixed up and reported the entire episode wrongly. Would you normally expect a physician to be that imprecise about something so momentous? (Luke 1:1-4).

The truth of matter is that the tongues spoken on Pentecost were known, recognized languages. The apostles received the Spirit as had been promised by Jesus (Acts 1:5). This was a clear demonstration of fulfilled prophecy. This was a demonstration of God’s power to do what He said He would do. This was the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, Pentecost is the hub of the Bible. – Randy Harshbarger – August 11, 2013

Acts 2 “The Sermon”


Peter’s Pentecost sermon is recorded in Acts 2:14-36. What did this apostle preach on that notable day some 2000 years ago?

First, Peter identifies Jesus. Acts 2:22 says: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know.” Jesus was man (not just a man cf. John 1:1, 14). Yet, He was a man who lived in a particular, well-known place in 1st century Palestine. God “attested” to Jesus; that is, the Father sent out His Son and His Son spoke for Him, the Father. Peter knows that none in the audience could possible deny the miraculous deeds Jesus performed. What Jesus did, He did publically (John 20:30-31).

Second, there was the death of Jesus. Acts 2:23 says: “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.” This man, known by the people on Pentecost, had been put to death. Judas, Pilate, the soldiers, the crowds, etc., all had something to do with the crucifixion.            Yet, Jesus’ death on the cross was a part of the Father’s will—His will that would make salvation for all possible (John 3:16).

Third, there is the resurrection of Jesus. Acts 2:24 says: “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Peter then quote David’s psalm (16:8- 11) which says that the Savior would be raised. David could not be referring to himself; he was dead and buried and the people knew it. Rather, as a prophet, he spoke of the resurrection of Jesus. Peter concludes by saying: “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).

Fourth, after the resurrection of Jesus, then came the exaltation. Jesus was exalted to sit at God’s right hand—a position of honor and recognition. Acts 2:33 says: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God….” Now Peter applies Psalm 110:1 to Jesus. David did not ascend to heaven; he was dead and was in the grave. Jesus, though, was by the Father’s right hand. Now, all of Israel could know, be assured of the fact that Jesus was alive and well; they could know that He was Lord and Christ.

Fifth, Peter speaks about salvation. In response to the convicted hearts and the ensuing question “What must we do?” Peter replied: “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). These conscience- stricken people were told to repent and be baptized for the remission/forgiveness of their sins.

Sixth, after Peter continued to exhort those gathered in Jerusalem, soon, three thousand obeyed the Lord’s will. Luke 24:47 says: “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” This is what took place on Pentecost. What a wonderful day that was!  –  Randy Harshbarger – August 18, 2013


Acts 2 “The Gospel for Today”


Peter said that Jesus was a man who was “attested” to by the Father. Jesus was put to death by wicked men. He was raised from the dead, as the prophets had foretold. He was then exalted to a position by God’s right hand. This resurrected Christ promised salvation to all who would obey His will. And when people did what He told them to do, He added them to His spiritual family. This was the beginning of the gospel. That same gospel continues today.

The Messianic Age had dawned. This was possibly only through the earthly ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, in a position of honor, was (is) the head of the new Israel. The activity of the Holy Spirit of God, among other things, served as notice that salvation was available to all who would come to Jesus (Heb. 2:1-4). Pentecost marked the beginning of the “last days.” And hearing, believing, repenting, and being baptized emerged as the salient elements in apostolic preaching.

For those today who have obeyed the gospel and thus have been added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47), the challenge to be faithful is a real one. These NT Christians came face to face with Jesus—some literally, others through the preaching of His word. They, as do we, had to focus on Jesus. Peter told these people to listen to Jesus; we must do the same. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God ….” (Acts 2:22). You cannot faithfully preach the gospel without preaching Jesus. The death and resurrection of Jesus eventually led to His exaltation. Later in Acts (17:30-31), we see Jesus emerging as the judge of all.  The message of the resurrection was proclaimed in a scriptural and historical context. That is, Jews (the “men of Israel” gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost) would have known something about OT prophecies such as Deuteronomy 18, Isaiah 53, Psalm 16, and Joel 2. Then, Peter says that he and others with him were “witnesses” of the events surrounding Jesus. None could deny even the miracles that Jesus performed. We are not eyewitnesses, but we have the testimony of those witnesses.

The gospel contains promises for all who will obey. That’s why the gospel is “good news.” Jesus died and was raised for us. Our sins, through His blood, can be wiped away. The message of the Spirit can make us new people in Christ. We can find freedom from filth, defilement, and self-centeredness. Let us remember that the gospel demands a radical turn from sin; that is what repentance is all about. Being raised to walk in newness of life is serious business.

It is not enough to merely preach Jesus. We have to live in Him. We have to live His message. We have to tell the story of Jesus. That is the gospel for today.  – Randy Harshbarger – August 25,2013