Devotional # 44. 7/29/13. The Holy Spirit Descends on Men.
This week’s Reading: Acts 2:1-47.
Introduction. Last week we started the book of Acts. These are the actions (or “acts”) of the apostles once Jesus left the earth. In this devotional we’ll talk about the Holy Spirit coming on men.
vv. 1-4. The Day of Pentecost was a feast on the 50th day (“Pentecost” means “fiftieth”) after Passover. It was when firstfruits were given. Firstfruits were the first things of the year (could be a paycheck or harvest) given to God. The Holy Spirit came as ‘the firstfruits of the believer’s inheritance” (Source 1). Many believers were meeting together and the Holy Spirit came upon them. He (the Holy Spirit) appeared as flames on top of the Christians heads and they spoke in tongues. Tongues means a different language (or “tongue”) than what the person had learned. This was: 1. an amazing sign from God, 2. a way for all people to hear God’s word, 3. As we’ll see an unquestionable proof driving people to accept Christ.
vv. 5-11. There were “devout” Jews (because they were expected to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Pentecost) who heard the Christians (all from Galilee, v. 7) speaking and were amazed. The word “Jews” here actually means a Greek speaking follower of Judaism (whether Gentile or Israelite) (Source 2)*. So as these crowds gathered all of the Jews from different nations could understand their own individual languages. This wasn’t crazy gibberish, these were legitimate clearly spoken languages.
*“Jew” here: If you want a summarized proof for this just email me.
vv. 12-15. The people standing around didn’t understand what was happening (would we?!) so they made fun of the men saying they must be drunk. But Peter stands up and says it’s only 9am (“the third hour,” Source 3) and preaches to them about the prophecies told about the Holy Spirit coming.
If you would like to read vv. 16-39 please go ahead. They are very good and are proofs of what God was doing. These are specific to Hebrew history and prophecy which Jesus fulfilled but also remember all the languages spoken a minute ago? This shows that although God started with Hebrews He fulfills with Gentiles too.
vv. 40-47. After the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter there were “three thousand” people who became believers and were baptized. This was God moving in a mighty way, these people went out into the world spreading the good news accompanied with signs. As time went on the people lived in a commune type fashion. It is important that although the people enjoyed their life it was never commanded by God and was not sustainable. In other words this isn’t the ideal way Christians have to live. But for these people it was a special time when they could fellowship together and share the gospel with others.
Conclusion. This is an important chapter for you to read and re-read because it is the first time the Holy Spirit was given (and not removed) to a large group of people. After this point when a person accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit would (and still does) dwell inside of the person. It isn’t scary and different people have different experiences. Some people say they can feel a change in their body and others don’t feel different. Thankfully that is not a proof that the Holy Spirit is within the person but a transformed life is the proof. The Holy Spirit acts as a corrected conscience prodding the Christian to make godly choices. This guidance sometimes leads a person to their death (martyrdom) and other times leads to great fellowship and happy times. We can suppress the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19) but as our lives are transformed we recognize it is not about us but about God’s will.
Source 1: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1634.
Source 2: Richard C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, xxxix. Ἑβραῖος, Ἰουδαῖος, Ἰσραηλίτης.
Source 3: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1635.