2:1 Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all with one accord
in one place.
2:2 Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a
and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
2:3 Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one
sat on each of them.
2:4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with
as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak.
2:5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every
nation under the sky.
2:6 When this sound was heard, the multitude came together,
and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own
2:7 They were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another,
"Behold, aren't all these who speak Galileans?
2:8 How do we hear, everyone in our own native language?
2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia, Judea,
Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia,
2:10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya around Cyrene,
visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
2:11 Cretans and Arabians: we hear them speaking in our languages the
mighty works of God!"
2:12 They were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying one to another,
"What does this mean?"
2:13 Others, mocking, said, "They are filled with new wine."
The Jewish Pentecost
Pentecost is a Jewish festival so ordained in the Law of Moses. It was
on of the three major feasts for which all males of Israel were required
to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem. (Ex. 23:14-19) And for this
reason we find such international diversity in Jerusalem at this time.
It was also called the Festival of Weeks. "Celebrate the Feast of Weeks
to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the
blessings the LORD your God has given you." Deut 16:10 It occurred
50 days after the Passover (when the Lord also had been crucified)
It was a harvest celebration, and as such we might view the Pentecost of
Acts 2 as a sort of Firstfruits from the reaping of gospel. It was the
start of the Church.
Speaking in Tongues
Although in 1:5 Jesus referred to this as being baptized with the Holy
Spirit, here we don't see that expression but rather the expression "filled
with the Holy Ghost" (kjv) which is an effect of being baptized with
the Holy Spirit. The filling is indicated by outward expressions. In this
case the Spirit manifested itself by giving the ability to speak in foreign
languages ordinarily unknown to the speakers. There are of course many
other ways in which the Spirit can manifest itself, but it chose to do
so in this manner at this time.
In Genesis was saw that when men were united against God in building
the tower of Babel that God divided them by imparting to them a diversity
of languages. But here we see when men are united with God that God brings
unity even symbolically through a common understanding of language.
Furthermore we might infer that God's Word needs to be communicated
in the language of the people. I applaud the efforts of Wycliffe and other
such organizations devoted to such an effort. And it is even with reluctance
that I have to use the KJV when quoting large sections of scripture because
of copyright restrictions. For the KJV being archaic and a majestic language
is often difficult to understand, especially for non-native speakers.
God chose Galileans, ordinary uneducated people. But if you read over-educated
writers - higher theologians and such - it is often difficult to understand
what they are saying. (OK, I'm guilty of that at times!) The Bible is actually
pretty easy to understand. And it was meant to be so.