Acts: Chapter 2
Note: A big part of Acts Chapter 2 is focused on what is called “The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit.” We will not be discussing this controversial subject this at length in this study because I have already addressed it in depth in another study. To see this study, go here: https://jesusalive.cc/bso-baptism-of-the-holy-spirit . (If you have been a part of my live study, we will already have addressed this topic.)
Pentecost! Let me begin by quoting from my “Liberty Bible Commentary” (words in [ ] are my additions).
“Pentecost [from Gr. word for “fifty] was the third great Israelite feast mentioned in Leviticus 23 [the other 2 being Passover, and the Feast of Tabernacles]. It was a harvest festival fifty days after Passover week [specifically the Feast of Firstfruits – Num 28:26]. This particular Pentecost, however, was to have greater significance than those which had preceded it.
Old Testament Pentecost occurred fifty days after Israel left Egypt and the Passover lamb was slain. New Testament Pentecost occurred fifty days after Christ rose from the dead, the Lord being our Passover Lamb.
Old Testament Pentecost celebrated the birth of the nation Israel (Ex 19:5). New Testament Pentecost celebrated the birth of the church (2:41-47).
Old Testament Pentecost witnessed the slaying of some three thousand souls (Ex 32:28). New Testament Pentecost witnessed the saving of some three thousand souls (2:41). The former pointed typologically to the latter.”
***Note: Pentecost was also known as the “Feast of Weeks” (Ex 34:22-23)(Deut 16:10) and the “Feast of Harvests” (Ex 23:16)(Lev 23:16-17).
Let’s begin by reading (Acts 2:1-13).
(Verse 1) “all with one accord in one place”
The “all” would be likely the “about 120” people mentioned in (Acts 1:15). Included in the 120 would be the disciples, Mary, and the brothers of Jesus (Acts 1:12-14).
The Greek word for “accord” in “one accord” is “homothumadon.” It is used 12 times in the New Testament (10 in Acts, 2 in Romans), and it means “homos” = “same” and “thumos” = “mind.” A term we use for this today is “like-minded.”
“In one place” might be the Upper Room, but because 120 is a pretty large number of people to place in the “upper room” of a house, many believe this “place” might have been a part of the Temple. (The “house” mentioned in Verse 2 could be the Temple: see Acts 7:47.)
(Verse 2) “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind”
The Holy Spirit has been pictured as “wind” previously: (Ezek 37:9-10,14)(Jn 3:8).
(Verse 2) “they were sitting” Often, God’s people would “stand” when praying, and “sit” when listening or waiting on God.
(Verse 3) “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.”
“Fire” is associated with God’s presence over and over in the Bible (Ex 3:2-6)(Ex 13:21-22)(Ex 19:16-18)(1 Kin 18:38-39)(Mt 3:11-12). These “cloven tongues” may not have been “literal fire” though. Note that the verse says “like as of” fire.
(Verse 4) “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost”
Any person who had the Holy Spirit prior to Pentecost would have had a temporary infilling like what we see in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon some people for limited periods of time to help them accomplish a task for God (Ex 28:3)(Ex 31:2-5)(Judg 3:9-11)(Judg 6:34)(Judg 11:29)(Judg 14:5-6,19)(Judg 15:14)(Ezek 11:5). However, He did not reside in people permanently, and could even be taken away (compare: 1 Sam 10:10 / 1 Sam 11:6 to 1 Sam 16:14)(Ps 51:11). This is changed at Pentecost. From Pentecost forward, the Holy Spirit would reside in believers permanently (Eph 1:13-14)(Eph 4:30)(2 Cor 1:22)(2 Cor 5:5)(2 Th 2:13)! Jesus alludes to this, when in speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit in (Jn 14:17), He says, “He dwells with you and will be in you.”
(Verse 4) “and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
As we will see in the following verses, these “tongues” were other languages. The Greek word “glossa” is used for the tongues that were spoken. “Glossa” in Greek means “a language, specifically one unacquired” (Strong’s). In other words, the tongues that were spoken were an actual “language,” not unintelligible babbling as some believe.
(Verse 5) “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”
“Devout” Jews were expected to gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, and are seen doing so here.
(Verse 6)(NASB) “And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together and they were bewildered, because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.”
The “sound” is almost certainly the “rushing mighty wind” that is mentioned in verse 2. That sound brought them there, and when they arrived, they heard the different languages.
(Verse 7)(NKJV) “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?”
Quoting from the “MacArthur Study Bible:” “(Galileans) – Inhabitants of the mostly rural area of northern Israel around the Sea of Galilee, Galilean Jews spoke with a distinct regional accent and were considered to be unsophisticated and uneducated by the southern Judean Jews. When Galileans were seen to be speaking so many different languages, the Judean Jews were astonished.”
(Verses 9-11) In total, we have 16 lands mentioned here (Rome, being split into 2 groups: “Jews and proselytes” makes 17). Notice what was being said by the people who were speaking in “tongues;” they were proclaiming “the wonderful works of God.” ***Note: When the “Baptism Of The Holy Spirit” was given to the Gentiles in (Acts 10:44-48), they also “magnified” God in tongues.
(Verses 12-13) “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” (13) Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
We clearly have two groups of people being contrasted here. The people who heard and understood the words that were being spoken, and viewed it as miraculous, versus those who heard and did not understand the words that were being spoken, and viewed what was happening as people being drunk.
If we look at why “tongues” were being spoken at Pentecost, this clears up much confusion.
Let’s turn to (1 Cor 14:21-22). In these verses, Paul is referring back to (Isa 28:11). Let’s look at this too. What is Paul saying here by referring back to (Isa 28:11)?
In (Isa 28:11), God issued a warning to the Jews that He would use people who spoke in another tongue as a sign of His judgment. When Paul correlates this verse with the tongues spoken in Acts, it seems clear that when people spoke in tongues in Acts (also see: Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-7), it was also a sign of God’s judgment for the Jews. In other words, each time “tongues” were spoken in Acts (the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”), unbelieving Jews were present, and it was a sign of God’s judgment upon them. These are represented here as those who thought the people speaking were drunk.
***Note: Therefore, “tongues” were not given as a “sign” that a person had received a “second experience” with the Holy Spirit, but rather they were given as a “sign” to unbelieving Israel.
Peter’s Sermon! Next, let’s read (Acts 2:14-33).
(Verses 14-15) Peter takes his position as the leader of the 12 disciples, and preaches the first sermon of the what would now be the “church” age. Notice who he is speaking to: 1. The “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem,” 2. The men who thought that those who were speaking in tongues were “drunk.” Again, he was speaking to “unbelieving Israel (Jews),” to whom the “tongues” were given as a sign.
Peter says that since it is only “the third hour” (9 A.M.) “all” of these men would not be “drunk.” My “Believer’s Bible Commentary” elaborates on this, adding, “Jews engaged in the exercises of the synagogue on a feast day abstained from eating and drinking until 10:00 a.m., or even noon, depending on when the daily sacrifice was offered.”
(Verses 16-21) Peter then quotes from the Book of Joel (Joel 2:28-32) to explain that what is happening was prophesied by Joel. However, nearly all scholars believe that these verses in Joel were only partially fulfilled at Pentecost, with most yet to be fulfilled in the “last days” (the time leading to Christ’s Second Coming). In other words, what happened at Pentecost was only a foretaste of what would be fully fulfilled later.
My “Believer’s Bible Commentary” explains it like this, “The quotation from Joel is an example of the Law of Double Reference, by which a Bible prophecy has a partial fulfillment at one time and a complete fulfillment at a later time. The Spirit of God was poured out at Pentecost but not literally on all flesh. The final fulfillment of the prophecy will take place at the end of the Tribulation Period” (which is the start of the Millennium). In speaking of all flesh, MacArthur says, “This indicates all people will receive the Holy Spirit, because everyone who enters the millennial kingdom will be redeemed (Mt 24:29-25:46; Rev 20:4-6).”
(Verse 22) “Jesus of Nazareth” Jesus was referred to by this name 12 times in the Gospels: (Mt 21:11)(Mt 26:71)(Mk 1:24)(Mk 10:47)(Mk 16:6)(Lk 4:34)(Lk 18:37)(Lk 24:19)(Jn 1:45)(Jn 18:5,7)(Jn 19:19), and 7 times in Acts: (here, 3:6, 4:10, 6:14, 10:38, 22:8, 28:9)
(Verse 22)(NASB) “a Man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst”
Jesus Himself said a number of times that His miracles were done to confirm that He was from God (Jn 3:2)(Jn 5:36)(Mk 2:10-12), and so that people would believe in Him (Jn 10:37-38)(Jn 20:30-31)(Mt 11:2-6). (Also see: Heb 2:3-4).
(Verses 23-28)(NASB) “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God”
At the beginning of creation, God in His “foreknowledge” knew that man would sin and need a Savior, and He made a “plan” to send (“deliver”) Jesus as Savior (the Messiah) (see: Rev 13:8, Acts 4:27-28, Acts 13:27-29). God then shared this “predetermined plan” with prophets, and gave them prophecies concerning the Messiah. These included His suffering (Ps Ch. 22)(Isa Ch. 53) and resurrection (Ps 16:8-11) [Quoted in verses 25-28]. (Also see: Acts 26:22-23, Lk 24:25-27,46, Acts 17:3)
***Note: It is interesting to note that Peter slightly changed David’s words in (Ps 16:11) from “You will make known to me the path of life” to “you have made known to me the ways of life.” Future tense to present tense. David looked forward to the events, Peter has now witnessed them.
(Verses 29-36) In these verses, Peter is making it clear, and explains that when David wrote his prophetic words in (Ps 16:8-11 = Verses 25-28), he was not speaking of himself, but instead of Jesus.
(Verse 29)(NASB) “the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.”
Peter’s first proof that David was not speaking of himself is because the tomb of David was still visible (at that time), and he was in it. Therefore, he was not resurrected.
(Verse 30)(NASB) “So because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne” (KJV and NKJV say “would raise up Christ to sit on his throne”)
Secondly, as “a prophet,” David had in fact received an “oath” from God that the Messiah would one day come through Him (therefore, David’s prophecy was not about himself). This “oath” that God had made to David is found in (2 Sam 7:11-16). This is pretty awesome, so let’s turn to it. This oath is also repeated in (1 Kin 9:1-9)(Ps 132:11).
(Verse 31)(NASB) “he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.”
Christians are somewhat divided on this point, but the majority seem to believe that after Jesus died, His body remained in the grave, but His spirit and/or soul descended into Sheol (or the heart/lower parts of the earth). Sheol was made up of two places: Paradise and Hades. All of the people who died in the Old Testament went to one of these two places. Believers went to Paradise, and non-believers went to Hades. We can see a picture of these two places in Jesus’ story of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in (Lk 16:19-31). Lazarus was in Paradise (also called: Abraham’s Bosom), and the Rich Man was in Hades. A great gulf separated these two places. In Hades, the Rich Man was tormented (Lk 16:23-24), and in Paradise, Lazarus was comforted (Lk 16:25).
When Jesus was on the cross, He told the thief next to Him that He would join Him in Paradise that same day because he believed in Him (Lk 23:43).
When Jesus died, He spent 3 days (Mt 12:40) proclaiming His victory and the Gospel to those in Sheol (1 Pet 3:19)(1 Pet 4:6). It was a message of joy for those in Paradise, and a message of sorrow for those in Hades.
However, as we see here (and in verse 27), Jesus’ soul was not left in Hades to see corruption, as prophesied in (Ps 16:10). Instead, He was resurrected from the dead on the 3rd day.
(Verse 32) “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”
Peter proclaims that both he, and the other 11 disciples (verse 14) were eye-witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. (Also see: Acts 1:22, Acts 3:15)
Small Rabbit Trail! An excellent way to show a “triune” God is to look at attributes that the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all share. For example, if I asked you: “Who raised Jesus from the dead?” what would be your response? If you said, “God,” you would be right, as it says in this verse. However, if you said: “the Father,” “Jesus,” or “the Holy Spirit,” you would also be right. How can this be? Because ALL are God, and ALL are one!
Who raised Jesus from the dead?
Jesus: (Jn 2:19)
Holy Spirit: (Rom 8:11)
Father: (Gal 1:1)
God: (Rom 10:9)
(Verse 33) “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”
In (Jn 7:39)(Jn 15:26)(Jn 16:8-15), Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be sent after He returned to the Father. This occurred after the 40 days (Acts 1:3) He spent on Earth after His Resurrection, when He ascended to the Father. (Mk 16:19) says this, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” (Also see: Lk 24:51)
Also, remember from Acts Chapter 1 that we looked at (Lk 24:49), where Jesus told the disciples to go to Jerusalem to wait for the promised Holy Spirit, and we see them obeying that command in (Acts 1:4-8). Now, notice in this verse (33) that Peter explains that everything which was being “seen and heard” was the fulfillment of what Jesus had said. Since He was now “at the right hand of God (the Father) exalted,” the promised Holy Spirit had been sent, and that was what was happening at Pentecost.
(Verses 34-35) “For it was not David who ascended into heaven”
Thirdly, Peter says that David was not speaking about himself in his prophecy because he had not “ascended into Heaven.” In fact, David wrote another Psalm (Ps 110:1), in which he prophesied that it would be the “Messiah” who would ascend to the “right hand of God.”
“The Lord said to my Lord” = God the Father said to God the Son (Jesus Christ, the Messiah)
***Note: Psalm 110:1 is quoted or referred to more in the New Testament than any other Old Testament verse. While on Earth, Jesus quoted this verse in (Mt 22:41-45)(Mk 12:35-37)(Lk 20:41-44) to declare His deity.
(Verse 36) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Peter concludes his first sermon (which began in verse 14) by letting the “house of Israel” know that everything he had said was proof that Jesus was the Messiah, and that they had “crucified” the Messiah! In stating that Jesus was/is “both Lord and Christ,” Peter was pointing to the deity of Jesus = Lord, and His Messiahship = Christ.
(Verse 37) “Now when they heard this, they were pricked (“pierced” NASB) in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter’s sermon, now empowered by the Holy Spirit living within him, was so powerful and convicting that the listening Israelites were convinced they had killed the Messiah. They were were greatly grieved, and almost certainly afraid of retribution from God. They asked Peter and the disciples, “What shall we do?”
(Verse 38) “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
This verse is the source of MUCH controversy amongst Christians. How is a person saved or born again? Some use this verse to show what is needed. I could talk about this debate for pages, however, I am going to try to keep this somewhat brief, and I will share a link from the website if you want to know more.
With respect to salvation, “mental ascent and acceptance” is the key to salvation. We must be willing to confess that we are sinners, accept that Jesus Christ died to pay for our sins, be willing to repent and turn from our sins, confess that Jesus is Lord, and accept and believe in His resurrection from the dead. “Believing” in these things by “faith,” and calling upon the name of the Lord is how we are saved. When we do this, we “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”).
Notice that I did not add “baptism” here. Baptism is a “work,” and the Bible says that we are not saved by “works,” or things that we “do.” This is why I said above that “mental ascent and acceptance” is the key. The Bible does tell Christians to be baptized, and we are to do this as an act of obedience “after” we are saved as a sign to others of our faith in Christ. But, again, we do not do it to be saved. If you want more on this, with Bible verses, please go here: https://jesusalive.cc/baptism-for-salvation .
As for explaining why Peter uses “baptism” in this verse, I am going to quote from my “Believer’s Bible Commentary.
“It is important to notice that only Jews were ever told to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (see Acts 22:16). The nation of Israel had crucified the Lord of glory. The Jewish people had cried out out, “His blood be on us and our children” (Mt 27:25). The guilt of the Messiah’s death was thus claimed by the people of Israel.
Now, some of these Jews had come to realize their mistake. By repentance they acknowledged their sin to God. By trusting the Lord Jesus as their Savior they were regenerated and received eternal forgiveness of sins. By public water baptism they dissociated themselves from the nation that crucified the Lord and identified themselves with Him. Baptism thus became the outward sign that their sin in connection with the rejection of Christ (as well as all their sins) had been washed away. It took them off Jewish ground and placed them on Christian ground.”
(Verse 39) “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off”
All who were saved would receive the “promise” (the Holy Spirit: Acts 1:4, Lk 24:49). This “promise” was extended to the Israelites (the Jews), their children, and the Gentiles (“all that are afar off”) (see: Eph 2:11-13).
(Verse 40) “And with many other words did he testify and exhort”
This seems to point pretty clearly to the fact that Peter spoke way more (“many other words”) than what is recorded here. However, since God inspired what is written in the Bible, we have all that God wanted us to know.
(Verse 40)(NASB) “Be saved from this perverse generation!”
Who do you think is the “perverse generation” that Peter is talking about?
(Verse 41) “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”
So powerful and convicting was the preaching (“word”) of Peter, that “about 3000 souls” were saved that day!
What these “3000” did afterwards, in the remaining verses (42-47), is sometimes referred to as an outline for what the “church,” consisting of all believers should be. Looking at these verses, what do you see?
(Verse 47) “having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
It should be noted that this “favor” with the “all” the people did not last long. Persecution and opposition were soon to follow.
The use of the word the “church” (Gr. ekklesia) here is the first of 18 uses in the book of Acts. As we spoke of previously in our study on “The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit,” when Jesus gave Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19), I believe this pointed to God using Peter to bring people into the “church” group by group in the Book of Acts: First: the Jews, which we have seen in this chapter, Second: the Samaritans (Acts 8:14-25), and Third: the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48).