Gift of the Spirit — 2:1-3
Witness of the Disciples — 2:4-6
Responses of the People — 2:7-13
Response of Peter — 2:14-36
Conviction — 2:37
Conversion — 2:38-41
Church Ministries — 2:42-47
2:1 When the day of Pentecost [Gr. “pentekostos” means “fifty” or “fiftieth” because Pentecost celebrated 50 days after Passover (cf. Lev. 23:15-16)] came, they [cf. Acts 1:15] were all together in one place [most likely the upper room mentioned in 1:13].
After the ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:9-11), the disciples returned to Jerusalem (Acts 1:12). They gathered in an upper room (Acts 1:13), along with other believers, and spent time together in prayer (Acts 1:14). Peter also spoke to those assembled concerning choosing a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15-22). Matthias was chosen as Judas’ successor by means of prayer and the casting of lots (Acts 1:23-26).
Pentecost is one of three major annual festivals celebrated by the Jews. Pentecost, meaning “fifty,” was celebrated fifty days after Passover (Lev. 23:15-16). This festival was also known as the Feast of the Firstfruits. When the day of Pentecost had arrived, or was being fulfilled, “about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15) believers were assembled together in one place. Most likely these believers were praying together (Acts 1:14) in the upper room (Acts 1:13). They would experience a day of Pentecost unlike any other and would be used by God to usher in the firstfruits of a spiritual harvest that continues to our day.
Note: Three major annual feasts celebrated by the Jews:
3. Feast of Tabernacles
2:2 [audible evidence of the Spirit’s coming] Suddenly [without warning] a sound [suggests that they heard but did not necessarily feel a rush of wind] like [compared to; resembling] the blowing of a violent [like a tornado] wind [Gr. “pnoes” means “wind” and “pneuma” means “spirit”; a symbol of power (e.g., Ex. 14:21; 1 Kings 19:11)] came from heaven [the source of the sound] and filled the whole house [upper room as per 1:13] where they were sitting.
The Holy Spirit arrived suddenly and made His presence known in an audible way. Those present heard a sound comparable to that created by a violent rushing wind or tornado. Wind often was used as a symbol of God’s power (Ex. 14:21) and presence (2 Sam. 5:24). The disciples heard but did not necessarily feel this violent rush of wind. The Greek words for wind and spirit are similar in sound and spelling. The Holy Spirit is like the wind—unseen but not unnoticed (John 3:8) and available in limitless supply. We who are Christians today have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and His power is thus available to help us as we witness.
2:3 [visual evidence of the Spirit’s coming] They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire [a symbol of power (1 Kings 19:12); God’s presence (Ex. 3:2; 13:21); cleansing (Isa. 6:6-7; Rev. 3:18); and judgment (Deut. 4:24); cf. John the Baptist’s words in Lk. 3:16; no indication that those present felt heat or burning] that separated and came to rest on each of them [God’s Spirit is available to all believers].
The Holy Spirit also made His presence known in a visual way, appearing as fire. Fire often was used as a symbol of God’s presence (Ex. 3:2-4; 13:21), power (1 Kings 19:12), and cleansing (Isa. 6:6-7). There is no indication that those present felt any physical heat or burning from this fire.
This unusual fire resembled the shape of a tongue—a symbol of speech and communication. These flames of fire separated and settled on each person present, suggesting that God’s Spirit is available to all believers. The Holy Spirit empowered these believers and employed their tongues to proclaim God’s message in a supernatural way. He still desires to use our tongues as instruments to share the divine message that can ignite a fire in the hearts of others.
2:4 [oral evidence of the Spirit’s coming] All [not just the apostles] of them [believers in Jesus] were filled with the Holy Spirit [cf. promise of Jesus in Jn. 14:17; cf. Lk. 24:49] and began to speak in other tongues [known languages previously unknown to those speaking them; not ecstatic utterances or “glossalalia” of 1 Cor. 12–14; cf. Acts 10:46: 19:6] as the Spirit [the Person of power who sovereignly bestows gifts on believers] enabled [for this particular occasion] them.
All of those present were filled with the Holy Spirit, thus fulfilling the promise of John 14:17 that the Spirit “will be in you.” To be filled means that they received all of the Spirit’s presence they could contain and that the indwelling Spirit controlled their lives. As a result, the Spirit enabled these believers to speak of God’s mighty deeds (Acts 2:11) in different languages.
The word languages does not refer to ecstatic or unintelligible utterances, but rather to known languages and dialects previously unknown to those speaking them. The people of various nationalities (Acts 2:8-11) present at the feast clearly understood what was being spoken.
Today, many people groups are still waiting to read or hear the gospel in their own languages. Through the initiatives of missionaries and Bible translators, more and more people are learning of the wonders of God and of His love for them.
Note: D. L. Moody reportedly said, “You might as well try to see without eyes, hear without ears, or breathe without lungs, as to try to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.”
2:5 Now there were staying [some had been there since Passover and knew about Jesus’ death and had likely heard reports of His resurrection] in Jerusalem God-fearing [devout; pious] Jews from every nation [Jews of the Diaspora] under heaven.
Devout or pious Jewish people from every nation under heaven resided in Jerusalem. These were Jews of the Diaspora whose families had been driven from Jerusalem and scattered among the Gentile world but who had returned to Jerusalem to dwell there. Many of those present had been born and raised in other countries and spoke other languages. These Jews, as well as pilgrims visiting Jerusalem, were likely aware of the crucifixion of Jesus and rumors of His resurrection.
2:6 When they heard this sound [perhaps both the sound of the violent wind and the languages being spoken], a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard [without the aid of an interpreter] them speaking in his own language [Gr. “dialekto”].
Those empowered by the Holy Spirit did not stay in the upper room but instead bolted! They poured out into the streets declaring the wonders of God (Acts 2:11). The sound of so many languages being spoken at the same time attracted a crowd. The multi-lingual crowd was astonished at hearing their native dialects being spoken by Galileans.
The Holy Spirit continues to help Christians today to communicate the gospel clearly in words people can understand. The word language translates the Greek word “dialekto” from which we get our English word “dialect.” God intended for all peoples to hear the gospel in their own languages.
Today, the Bible has been translated into 2300 of the world’s 6913 languages. Many of the 272 million people without the Bible in their native languages are still waiting to hear what the Jews in Jerusalem heard on the day of Pentecost.
2:7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?
2:8 Then how is it that each of us hears [without the aid of an interpreter] them in his own native language [the purpose of this occurrence of “tongues” was to get the gospel message out to the world]?
2:9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
2:11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God [this was the content of their speeches] in our own tongues!”
2:12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
2:13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine [a senseless explanation that does not account for how “drunks” could so clearly speak a language they had not previously spoken].”
Luke recorded the responses of those in Jerusalem who heard Christ’s followers speaking in other languages. Some of the people who witnessed the remarkable events on the day of Pentecost were bewildered (v. 6). Others were “utterly amazed” (v. 7) and likely stood around with their mouths opened wide. Still others were curious (vv. 8-11) and asked one another, “What does this mean?” (v. 12). And, as always, some scoffed and said, “They have had too much wine” (v. 13).
2:14 Then Peter [spokesman for the disciples] stood up [Peter’s confidence came from the Holy Spirit] with [suggests the others stood with Peter] the Eleven [the other apostles], raised his voice and addressed [means to speak seriously; the first of Peter’s sermons in Acts; Peter’s response to the charge of drunkenness (2:13); sermon was simple, scriptural, and Christ-centered (Swindoll)] the crowd [all those gathered in the Temple area for the Feast of Pentecost]: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this [behavior of the disciples] to you; listen carefully to what I say [behavior of the disciples was related to fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy; cf. Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:14-21; Jesus of Nazareth is the long-awaited Messiah (2:14-36)].
The charge of drunkenness became the occasion for Peter’s first and perhaps most influential sermon. Peter, filled and emboldened by the Holy Spirit, stood up and addressed the crowd of people (v. 14). He dismissed the charge of drunkenness as unreasonable, pointing out that it was too early in the day for someone to be drunk (v. 15). Peter then offered an explanation of what had happened.
2:15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!
2:16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel [cf. Joel 2:28-32]:
2:17 “‘In the last days [the time between Jesus’ first and second comings], God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all [refers to those who are born again] people [all races and nationalities]. Your sons and daughters [cf. Acts 21:8-9 re: the daughters of Philip the evangelist] will prophesy [proclaim God’s saving message], your young men will see visions [a means used by God to reveal Himself to people], your old men will dream dreams [a means used by God to reveal Himself to people].
Peter anchored the miraculous events of Pentecost in the Old Testament (vv. 16-21). He told the crowd that what they had witnessed was the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Joel 2:28-32. Joel spoke of a time when God would pour out His Spirit on all people (v. 17). As a result, they would all prophesy, or proclaim God’s saving message (v. 18). The time Joel had spoken of had finally come. The Holy Spirit was now available to empower all of God’s people for service, without regard to sex or age (vv. 17,18). The Holy Spirit, Peter said, was responsible for transforming ordinary people into people of power.
Have you ever thought of yourself as a person of power? Wealth and material possessions make some people feel powerful. Others feel powerful because they occupy positions of authority. But, as a believer, you have the greatest power of all available to you. And, the best part is, you do not have to be wealthy or in a position of authority to tap into this power. The Holy Spirit resides within you and stands ready to give you the power to have a part in advancing the gospel.
2:18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
2:19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
2:20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
2:21 And everyone [including Gentiles] who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
2:22 “Men of Israel [Jews], listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man [incarnation] accredited [publicly endorsed] by God to you by miracles [mighty works; indicates manifestation of power], wonders [calls attention to impression made upon those who witnessed miracles] and signs [indicates miracles were to direct attention of people to God], which God did [miracles were expressions of God’s power working through Jesus] among you through him, as you yourselves know [many of those present had either witnessed or heard of the miracles of Jesus].
2:23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you [accused Jews of participation in Jesus’ death], with the help of wicked men [Romans], put him to death by nailing him to the cross [crucifixion].
2:24 But God [responsible for the resurrection] raised him from the dead [one of two references to the resurrection in Peter’s sermon (see also 2:32); many had seen the risen Christ], freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him [the Creator and Author of life].
2:25 David said [Ps. 16:8-11] about him [the Messiah]: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
2:26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,
2:27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay [Jesus’ body did not remain in the grave to decay].
2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
2:29 “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried [therefore David was not writing about himself], and his [David’s] tomb [possibly located near pool of Siloam on south side of Jerusalem] is here to this day.
2:30 But he [David] was a prophet [because he wrote of One who would be resurrected from the dead] and knew that God had promised him on oath [cf. Ps. 132:11; 2 Sam. 7:15-16] that he [God] would place one of his [David’s] descendants on his throne.
2:31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.
2:32 God has raised this Jesus to life [His tomb was close by and open to inspection], and we are all witnesses of the fact.
2:33 Exalted to the right hand [position of honor, authority, and equality] of God [cf. Acts 5:30-31; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22], he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
2:34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said [Ps. 110:1; this verse occurs 13 times in NT; most quoted OT verse in NT], “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit [indicates completion of task] at my right hand
2:35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘
2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ [glorification].”
As the crowd continued to listen attentively, Peter spoke about the life and works of Jesus (v. 22). Many of those listening knew of the “miracles, wonders and signs” (v. 22) which Jesus had performed through God’s power. Many of them also knew about the recent arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, which was part of God’s divine plan to redeem sinful humanity (v. 23). Death, however, could not hold Jesus (v. 24). Peter presented various proofs to support the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead (v. 25-35). Peter called upon his listeners to know with certainty that God declared Jesus, whom they crucified, both Lord and Christ (v. 36).
2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart [from Gr. katanussõ which means to be pierced or stabbed with a sharp point; suggests deep conviction; cf. John 16:8 and Heb. 4:12-13] and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Perplexed by what they heard, the international crowd asked the question, “What could this be?” (Acts 2:12). This question became the springboard for Peter’s first sermon. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up and put the events of that day and also the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ into Scriptural context.
When the people heard what Peter had to say they were pierced to the heart or profoundly convicted. It is likely that some of those present had cried “Crucify Him!” in Pilate’s hall (Matt. 27:22). Now they asked, “Brothers, what must we do?” Peter would later write that we should always be prepared to give an answer to those who ask us about the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15).
2:38 Peter replied, “Repent [from Gr. metanoeo which means to turn from sin and to Christ, the One who can solve the sin problem; change of heart and mind (adopt a different view of Christ) that results in a change of direction; means more than feeling sorry for past behavior; urgency: do it now!] and [implies a process; baptism is a response to repentance] be baptized [beautiful picture of death, burial, resurrection of Jesus and of believer’s death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ (Rom. 6:2-7); outward display of inner conviction], every one of you [Peter’s message is for all people], in the name of Jesus Christ [acknowledge Him as Messiah and Lord] for [Greek preposition eis which can also be translated to mean “on the ground of” or “on the basis of”] the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive [at the point of becoming a Christian] the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter answered the crowd’s question by telling them to repent, or to turn from their sin to Christ— the only One capable of solving their sin problem. In addition, Peter told the crowd that they should be baptized—not to receive forgiveness of sins, but as a testimony that they had already received forgiveness through their repentance and faith in Jesus. As believers, Peter assured them that they too would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s promise in Joel 2:32 was for them, their children, and even extended to all whom the Lord our God will call.
2:39 The promise is for you [personal application] and your children [generational application] and for all who are far off [global application; Gentiles]—for all [including future generations] whom the Lord our God will call.”
2:40 With many other words [indicates Luke only recorded a part of Peter’s sermon] he warned them; and he pleaded [to call, beseech, exhort, comfort] with them, “Save yourselves from [only way to do this was by becoming followers of Christ] this corrupt [crooked or perverse; Gr. word for perverse is skolios which means twisted, winding] generation [Peter spoke to people who had witnessed the Messiah’s coming and had rejected Him].”
Luke recorded only a portion of Peter’s sermon. With many other words Peter strongly urged the crowd to do more than avoid hell’s fires. He pleaded with them to save themselves from the influence of their corrupt generation through repentance and faith in Jesus.
Many people today are kept in darkness by our perverse society and its intolerance of Christ’s claim to be the only way of salvation. Jesus came to make provision for our eternal salvation and to empower His followers to live distinctive lives that reflect their heavenly citizenship.
2:41 Those [indicates that not all in the crowd accepted the message] who accepted [to receive] his message were baptized [first step of obedience; public identification with Christ; outward sign of inward decision], and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Three thousand of those who heard Peter’s message placed their faith in Christ for salvation, were baptized and added to the small number of believers. What a response!
I have often thought that I will look for Peter in heaven and ask him what it was like to preach in Jerusalem on that day and have so many respond. And yet I wonder if Peter will look for us and ask us what it was like to proclaim God’s message throughout the world in the 21st century.
Those who join God on mission today continue the spiritual harvest inaugurated on that first Pentecost after Christ ascended into heaven.
The day of Pentecost began like any other day for Peter and the other followers of Christ. By the end of the day however, their lives would never be the same again. The Holy Spirit empowered these ordinary people for the divine task of sharing the gospel of Christ. As a result of their witness, the church was born and a fire ignited that has swept across countries and centuries.
How did this day begin for you? As a believer, you have the same power available to you that transformed the followers of Christ on the day of Pentecost. You too, can expect people to respond positively to the gospel when they see the results of the power of God’s Spirit in your life and hear your testimony. Will you allow God’s Holy Spirit to govern and guide your life today? Will you allow Him to use you to share Christ with someone today? If so, by the end of this day, your life may never be the same again.
2:42 [note four marks of the Jerusalem church]  They devoted [gave constant attention to] themselves to the apostles’ [those who had personally walked with Jesus] teaching [or doctrine; content of teaching was life and teaching of Jesus] and to the  fellowship [Gr. “koinonia”; the only use of this word by Luke in the books of Luke and Acts], to the  breaking of bread [observing the Lord’s Supper and sharing meals together] and to  prayer [essential in life of individual believers and churches].
2:43 Everyone was filled with awe [Gr. “phobos” is common term for fear; reverence], and many wonders [emphasizes the reactions the people had to what God did] and miraculous signs [point beyond the events to the power and purpose behind them] were done by the apostles.
2:44 All the believers were together [suggests unity; together in purpose and spirit] and had everything [their faith in the Lord Jesus] in common [Gr. “koina”].
2:45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need [one person’s need felt by all].
2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts [public meeting spaces available there]. They broke bread in their homes [this was the beginning of house churches] and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
2:47 praising [praise is thanking God for who He is and what He has done] God and enjoying the favor of all the people [this general favor ceased after Stephen’s death]. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved [evangelism is an essential function of the church].