The Outline of Chapter Two
Notice the sequence of events found in this chapter.
The Spirit came. This is evidenced by:
The word “Pentecost” means “fiftieth day.” The season of the year was that of Pentecost. Pentecost was one of several national feast days. The first one was Passover, which commemorated their exodus from Egypt. The second one was Pentecost. It was observed fifty days after Passover.
Jesus arose from the dead and was seen for forty days. He then ascended into heaven and ten days later the Spirit descended.
The secret of Pentecost is found in three words repeated four times in the early chapters of Acts – “with one accord.”
Here is unity and harmony – total dedication, total commitment, and total surrender.
They were where they were supposed to be, doing what they were supposed to be doing. When God’s people have this attitude, things will happen.
Sound – wind
Sight – fire
Speech - tongues
“began to speak”
At this point we need to deal with the subject of Tongues. There is much confusion concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the speaking in tongues here in Acts chapter two. The Word of God alone is the rule for Christian faith and practice. God’s living Word of Truth is the believer’s only sure protection against Doctrinal Error and Demonic Deception. The Word of God soundly expounded and implicitly believed and obeyed is a sure defense against Satan and his host.
Therefore, let me emphasize at the beginning: Experience does not prove doctrine, but doctrine does prove experience. To foster or engage in any belief or action which does not have a Biblical Foundation, throws one open to Satanic influence and “doctrines of demons.” Thus we need to be careful when we approach the subject of tongues.
Tongues are Predicted (Mark 16:17, 18)
Tongues are Provided (Acts 2:4-12)
Tongues are Practiced (I Cor. Chps. 12-14)
In Acts 2 there are two Greek words used in translating the word “tongue.” In verses 4 and 11 it is the ordinary word for the tongue (glossa). The word appears 50 times in the New Testament referring to the physical organ as in James 3:5 and Acts 2:3, 26. In all remaining references to the word it always means languages.
In verses 6 and 8 the word is “dialektos,” from which we get our English word “dialect,” which means various forms of the same language. Thus the words are used interchangeably.
The words “other tongues” (v. 4) and “language” (v. 6) are one and the same in meaning. They spoke in a language other than their native tongue they normally used to express their faith. The Jews present that day came from at least 16 geographical areas: “from every nation under heaven” (v. 5).
Notice what Romans 10:17, 18 has to say on the subject. Thus the gift of tongues in Acts 2 was the ability to speak in a language that they had not previously learned.
Now when you come to Acts 10:44-48, you find that the tongues were the same as that of Acts 2. Notice Peter’s explanation in Acts 11:15-17 (“God gave them the like gift as He did unto us”).
The third historical account of speaking in tongues is found in Acts 19:1-7. Evidently these were the same as those in Acts 2. They were languages. There is no reason to believe that the speaking in tongues by these Ephesian disciples involved anything different from the phenomenon on the day of Pentecost and the same sign witnessed by Peter in the household of Cornelius.
The Prophecy of Isaiah – The Apostle Paul in I Cor. 14:21 quotes a significant prophecy of Isaiah related to speaking in tongues (Isaiah 29:10, 11). Moses speaks of the same event (Deut. 28:49). Both predict that the Jews in captivity would be spoken to in other languages. This was fulfilled in both the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. These tongues predicted by Moses and Isaiah were foreign languages. Thus all of these (Acts 2, 10. 19) incidents were real languages of the inhabitants of the world, though not previously learned or known by those who spoke under divine inspiration.
The gift of tongues was a supernatural bestowal intended to perform a specific function ( I Cor. 14:22). Thus the gift of tongues was a sign to the Jewish nation (the unbelieving Jews). The gift was given to confirm or authenticate the message of salvation in Jesus Christ to these Jews (Heb. 2:3, 4) Thus a Sign was a Miracle with a Message.
The great question that needs to be answered is this: Is the modern phenomenon the same gift as that recorded here in the Book of Acts? The only way you can know is to understand exactly what are the marks of the Biblical gift, and then compare it with what we see today.
Whenever the true gift of tongues is manifest it will always be characterized by some distinctive marks. The Holy Spirit always moves in line with the Word of God.
First, as we have clearly seen, the Biblical gift of tongues is always known languages, spoken somewhere on earth. They may be unknown to some people hearing or speaking them, but they are spoken somewhere by someone.
Second, it is very clear that the gift of tongues is intended to be manifested publicly not privately. I Cor. 12:7 The gift isn’t designed for individual benefit but for the edifying of others.
Here at Pentecost the miracle was for the benefit of the thousands of Jews who had gathered from all the nations under heaven. There is no record in the New Testament of the private use of tongues.
third, the Biblical gift of tongues was a sign to the unbelieving (mainly Jews – I Cor. 14:22), and not to believers. Wherever you find tongues in the New Testament, you will always find unbelievers present.
Tongues, which consist of gibberish (strange syllables) is very common in African cults and Hinduism and other religions. But this has nothing to do with the Biblical gift of languages. Well, what are modern day tongues? At best they are a psychological response to a strong inward desire to have something that will give some sense of spiritual or exceptional superiority in some remarkable way. Thus the question of tongues in Acts should be clearly understood as languages.
We return now to the passage before us, which deals with the response of the people.
Immediate Testimony (v. 6)
Impressive Testimony (v. 7)
Inspiring Testimony (v. 11) – definitely of God
The sound, the sight and the speaking caused quite a stir among the multitude of people who had gathered at Jerusalem for the annual observance of the Feast of Pentecost. Luke says in v. 6, they were confounded or confused; in verse 7 they were amazed and marveled; in verse 12 they were perplexed or uncertain.
This doubt, confusion, and criticism prompted Peter to speak. His sermon deals with three main points.
Keep in mind a few important facts about “true preaching”.
Listen to Paul’s challenge to young Timothy (II Tim. 4:1, 2). When the church ceases to make the expounding of the Word of God its main thrust, it becomes a mere social center for a community.
Now let’s go back and examine Peter’s message here at Pentecost. He begins by answering the critics (v. 14, see Eph. 5:18). He first Defends, and then he Declares.
The third hour (9:00) was the time of the morning sacrifice and prayer. Drinking was neither practiced nor permitted prior to these observances.
Having explained what this phenomenon was not, Peter now proceeds to show what it was. Notice how he speaks with certainty – “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” He then quotes from Joel 2:28-32.
What Peter did not say is as important as what he did say. He said that this is what Joel predicted, but he did not say that this event fulfilled what Joel predicted. From other Scriptures we learn that Joel’s prophecy has yet to be fulfilled in a greater way. When Peter quotes this passage he changes the word “afterward” which Joel used, to the phrase, “in the last days.”
It is also important to notice that in this quotation of Joel there is no mention of tongues. Instead he refers to another gift of the Spirit, the gift of prophecy. Prophecy here simply means “the ability, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to declare the Word of God. Thus this age began, Peter says, with the pouring out of the Spirit. It will end, Peter indicates, by the Sun being turned into darkness, and the moon into blood (Joel 2:31; Rev. 6:12). Thus Peter begins by giving us the beginning and ending of this present age of the Spirit. It began at Pentecost; it will end at the close of the Great Tribulation.
The multitude thought the disciples were drunk. This was their way of explaining the tongues being spoken. But Peter reminds them that Joel had predicted that God would do this very thing,
It is quite obvious that only verses 17 and 18 were fulfilled at Pentecost. Verses 19 and 20 still await fulfillment. There is a marked distinction between the “last days” of verse 17 and the “great and terrible day of the Lord” in verse 20. The first refers to that time period between the birth of Christ and the end of this age (the rapture). The latter refers to the Second Coming and Judgment.
These cosmic disturbances will be signs pointing to the Second Coming (Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19:11-16; Jude 14, 15). So the prophecy of Joel covers the entire span of the Spirit’s ministry during this dispensation from the beginning of the Church to the close of the Great Tribulation.
Then Peter turns to his second point. Here he exalts the Person of Christ (v. 22-24). Peter states that Jesus was a man from Nazareth, approved of God, walked among them, performed miracles – wonders, signs – and He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, then was raised from the dead by God.
Verse 23 is very important. The Lord had not been the victim of a Jewish mob, nor the helpless prisoner of Caesar’s legions or Pilate’s judgment. What took place had been planned in eternity past. Jesus had come to do precisely what had been foreordained (II Cor. 5:21; Is. 53:4, 5, 10).
One cannot read the Book of Acts without seeing the prominence given in it to the resurrection of Christ. This is the main thrust of Peter’s sermon here.
(David’s body did see corruption. Reference is to someone else.)
The conclusion is conclusive.
Verse 36 - “Jesus” is His human name;
“Christ” is His official name;
“Lord” is His divine title.
Jesus is both Christ and Lord; He is therefore the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is built upon an empty grave. Thus the resurrection is:
A Solid Foundation of Faith
A Strong Inspiration of Love
A Sure Consolidation of Hope
V. 33 – History is full of landmarks, turning points, and great events upon which everything hinged. The greatest of these was the Day of Pentecost, for it was here that God’s grace was made available for the whole world.
V. 37 – “when they heard this” – at the conclusion of verse 36 – several things happened.
Many have used this verse to prove that baptism is essential for salvation. Their doctrine rests on the little word “for.” The Greek word is “eis” and it means “because of.” So they were to be baptized, not in order to obtain remission of sin, but because they had already experienced the remission of sin as a result of their repentance.
The promise of salvation was
personal – “to you”
universal – “to all who are afar off.”
The word “remission” is interesting. Remember Luke was a physician and here he uses a medical term to denote that a disease has lost its grip on the body. Here sin has lost its control of the soul.
Verses 42-47 have been referred to as the New Testament pattern of the church. Here is our example for conduct.
It is referred to by different terms in the New Testament.
1. High Calling (Phil. 3:14)
Notice the characteristics of this group of believers.
Notice who did the “adding.” Someone has wisely said, “If you have been added by any other person, or in any other way, it is time you were subtracted.”
Thus in this chapter we find that the Church was:
1. Unified (v. 44, 46)
2. Magnified (v. 47a)
3. Multiplied (v. 47b)