Study Notes on Acts 2:1 – 14
The People of God Immersed In the Spirit of God
1)The Spirit Came (2:1 – 4)
The Promise Fulfilled
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer 31:33
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezek 36:25,27
- Jesus had promised believers would be baptised in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) :
“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Cor 12:13
- After Pentecost Acts never uses the phrase “baptism of the Spirit” – believers are said to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit
- How could a group of frightened, puzzled and largely uneducated men take the news about Jesus across the Roman Empire?
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
- God is more willing to pour out His Spirit than we are to ask:
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Lk 11:13
The Promise Fulfilled at Pentecost
- Pentecost occurred on the 50th day after the Passover, and was the culmination of the Feast of Weeks, originally celebrating the end of the grain harvest
- After the Exile it became one of the great pilgrimage feasts where those who lived in remote areas of the Roman Empire returned to worship God, uniting and reminding them of their history
- Two leavened loaves were offered before the Lord (Lev 23:16,17)
“Thus, the two loaves commemorating the tablets of stone came to illustrate Jew and Gentile coming together in one new organization called the church. Unlike most other sacrifices, these loaves had leaven in them, a picture of the sin that would exist in a church made up of sinners saved by grace.” Jon Courson
2) The Spirit Enabled Witnessing to the Nations (2:5-13)
Jews From Many Nations Heard About Jesus In Their Own Language
The list of nations, “provides one of the most comprehensive ancient catalogues of the Jewish Diaspora (Jews living outside Palestine) and is confirmed by other ancient lists (esp. Philo, Embassy to Gaius 281–284), by early Jewish archaeological remains, and by many ancient literary sources. It is only natural that first-century Jerusalem would be filled with devout Jews ‘from every nation under heaven’ (Acts 2:5).” ESV Study Bible
- A fulfilment of the promise to Abraham that all nations would be blest through him (Gen 12:3)
- If communication only was the aim, then Greek would have sufficed (thanks to the conquests of Alexander the Great 400 years earlier)
- This was direct, personal communication of the Gospel!
Tongues – A Message from God in a Different Language
- Paul spoke in tongues and possibly God initiated this in him, “I speak in tongues more than you all.” 1 Cor 14:18
- When Peter was in the house of Cornelius preaching, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers and they spoke in tongues (Acts 10:44)
- Paul told the Ephesians about Jesus Christ, laid hands on them for the power of the Spirit, and they spoke in tongues (Acts 19:1–6)
- Not every believer has this gift (1 Cor 12:7 – 10)
- In the gathered church tongues should only to be used if they can be interpreted (1 Cor 14:27,28)
“Though Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost, and spoke with tongues as the Spirit gave him utterance, yet he did not think to set aside the Scriptures. Christ’s scholars never learn above their Bible; and the Spirit is given, not to do away the Scriptures, but to enable us to understand, approve, and obey them.” Matthew Henry
The Church Formed AND Equipped
“By the Spirit, one body (of Christ) was formed, and all the gifts are due to His perpetual presence” W. J. Erdman
- Previously the Spirit had descended on individuals – prophets, kings, priests – but now He is poured out on all God’s people c.f John 16:7
3) The Spirit Ushered in the Church Age (2:14 – 21)
We Live in The Last Days
- Joel prophesied that the Spirit would be poured out on God’s people in the last days (2:17)
“His saving death and resurrection have been accomplished, and now the work of the Holy Spirit in building the church is a key event in the history of salvation that needs to occur before Christ returns.” ESV Study Bible
The Keys of the Kingdom
“Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’.” Matthew 16: 16 – 19
- Christ build’s His kingdom on the confession of faith that He is God’s Son and all that means for us (“the rock”)
“The “keys of the kingdom of heaven” therefore represent at least the authority to preach the gospel of Christ (cf. Matt. 16:16) and thus to open the door of the kingdom of heaven and allow people to enter … Peter first used this authority by preaching the gospel at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-42). But the other apostles also were given this authority in a primary sense (they wrote the gospel in permanent form in the New Testament). And all believers have this “key” in a secondary sense, for they can all share the gospel with others, and thereby open the kingdom of heaven to those who will enter it.” Wayne Grudem
Israel Was Being Offered a Second Chance
Israel was being offered a second chance to bow before their Messiah, this offer was a fulfilment of Jesus’ last request on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
If the last days had arrived, why was the Spirit of the Lord not poured out on the priests, the Rabbinic schools, the scribes, the Pharisees? It was actually poured out on those who knew Jesus, who had been with Him after his resurrection.
Although the church is a progression beyond Israel (we have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit), it is not the permanent replacement of Israel (see Rom 9 – 11, esp. 11:25-27). God still has His people in Israel and they will recognise it’s true Messiah at some point in the future!
Have We Experienced, or are Praying For, the Spirit’s Renewal?
“It’s important that someone is tracking the hurricane and telling us what it is doing, but when it comes to Pentecost it is far more important that you are out there in the wind, letting it sweep through your life, your heart, your imagination, your powers of speech, and transform you from a listless or lifeless believer into someone whose heart is on fire with the love of God.” Tom Wright
“have our churches today got enough energy, enough spirit driven new life, to make onlookers pass any comment at all?” Tom Wright