Acts 2:1-11; John 20:19-23
Jewish law required the Jewish people to observe a harvest festival called “the feast of harvest” (Ex 23:16) or “the day of the first fruits” (Num 28:26), or “the feast of weeks” (Ex 34:22) because the countdown was seven weeks or a week of weeks (Dt 16:9).
The word Pentecost is found in Tobit 2:1; 2 Mac 12:32 and in the New Testament (Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8). Pente is the Greek word for five or fifty.
Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. The Gospel is the story of Jesus and Acts is the story of the early church. Luke began his Gospel with the story of Jesus’ birth. He begins the book of Acts with the story of the church’s birth. The Spirit responsible for the birth of Jesus is also responsible for the birth of the church. Jesus alluded to the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost when he told his disciples to “wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5)
Christians retreated into hiding after the crucifixion and waited quietly for God to act. Now the time has come! Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind…. Tongues (glossai) like fire appeared…. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages (glossais—tongues), as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak“ (vv. 2-4). The heavens roar! Fire burns! The Spirit of God fills! Disciples preach! Crowds wonder! This gift comes “from the sky” (v. 2a)—from God. “a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind…Tongues like fire” (2-3). Wind and fire, two great symbols of Pentecost, testify to God’s presence among these disciples:
At the creation of the world, “Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7). Now at Pentecost, God’s great wind/breath breathes life into the new people of God—the church. But it isn’t the wind that fills the house, but “a sound like the rush of a violent wind.” The purpose of these signs (sound/fire) is to announce the presence of the Spirit. No tornado or hurricane is required—just the sound will do.
“Tongues like fire”(v. 3). In the Old Testament, God showed his presence as “a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch”. Now, at Pentecost, tongues of fire draw the crowds to the disciples and the message that they proclaim.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit” In the past, God has set his Spirit on a chosen few, but in the era that begins with this first Christian Pentecost, God gives the Spirit to all who belong to the believing community.