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Acts 2:1-13: The Arrival of the Holy Spirit
The ministry that Jesus began in Israel will continue and spread throughout the world. That wasnít entirely obvious at the beginning. Perhaps the death of Jesus would scatter his followers. Perhaps Jesus would be remembered as another revered Rabbi within Judaism. Perhaps the world would end soon with Jesus returning in power. Instead, his followers were led to think of a mission to the entire world, Jew and non-Jew alike.

Verses 1 to 4: The Holy Spirit comes to the disciples

Here are some things to notice in these verses:

  • A mighty wind. Wind is often a sign that accompanies the appearance of God. See Genesis 1.2 and Psalm 18.10. Wind is also one of the meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words for Spirit.
  • Fire also accompanies some appearances of God. See Exodus 3.2 and 19.18 for examples.
  • Tongues of fire. The text is clear that it is describing how this vision appeared. It looked like this. Luke is not saying that there were real body parts burning above their heads..
  • Spoke in tongues. Actual human languages that native speakers could understand. This is different than the speaking in tongues that Paul descrives in 1 Corinthians chapter 14. There, the speech is in a language, but it is a language that no human speaks.
  • Pentecost. The word literally means "the 50th day." Fifty days after Passover was the Jewish festival of the Grain Harvest. (See Exodus 23.16; 34.22). Jesusí crucifixion took place around the time of Passover, so this gathering is also 50 days after that happened.


Verses 5 to 13: The Reaction of others

Here are some things to notice in these verses:

  • What people heard was the disciples simultaneously speaking in several different languages. For example, the Meads realized that there was someone speaking Median, and the Partians heard someone else speaking Parthian.
  • The areas where people came from are quite varied. Note that these areas include not only people from various provinces of the Roman Empire but also some Eastern nations. Trade among these areas was common in ancient times. It isnít remarkable that you could find someone from all of these places in Jerusalem at the same time. On the other hand, some obvious places are missing: most of Greece, and Galatia (part of modern Turkey). These areas are mentioned later in Acts and in Paulís letters.

Last updated 12/16/00; © 2000 John P. Nordin