Apostles Receive the Holy Spirit

PentecostThe book of Acts or “Acts of the Apostles” is the first book after the Gospels and is believed to have also been written by Luke. Consequently, the first chapter starts with Luke ending his telling of the Gospel to a Roman official, Theophilus, as we saw here.

In The Great Commission  we saw Jesus saying to the apostles “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed with power from on high.”

After he ascended, we read “And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.”

Jesus had been with them for 40 days since his resurrection, but they did not know when this “power” would be coming. In Acts#1:12-14 we see they had returned to the upper room to pray, along with the women who witnessed the resurrection, his mother Mary and his brothers.

The rest of Acts 1 describes one of the things they did during the days they were waiting and going to the temple:

“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, ‘Men and brethren, this Scripture has to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry: “Let another take his office. [Ps#109:8]“‘

They needed to choose someone who had been with them the whole time, not only to replace Judas, but to be a genuine witness to the resurrection. So they prayed for inspiration, cast their votes, and chose Matthias.

In Acts 2, it is the Day of Pentecost, 10 days after the ascension and 50 days since the crucifixion. This was the beginning of the “Feast of Harvest” and there were Jews from regions all around the Mediterranean, Rome and Arabia, numbering many thousands. They would have been in and around the temple grounds.

Luke goes on to say, “They were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [languages], as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

There is much debate over who “all” refers to. But Jesus only promised the “helper” would come to the apostles [John#15:18-16:4]. It is also unlikely there were 120 people in the upper room at the time.

In verses 6-11 we read, “And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marvelled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’”

It would appear the apostles had left the upper room and were now in the temple grounds.

Many thought they must be drunk, but Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles [also suggests only the apostles received the Holy Spirit] and, raising his voice said, “Men of Judea and all who dwell [are staying] in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day [9 AM]. He then goes on to quote from Joel#2:28-32, saying that God will pour his Holy Spirit on all who call on the name of the Lord.

Peter then goes on to chastise those who crucified Jesus saying, “Men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, was a man approved by God to you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as you yourselves know. Him, being delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, by the hand of lawless men, crucified and killed; whom God raised up, having freed him from the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it.”

He then explains how Jesus was the one that the patriarch King David [Ps#16:8-11] prophesied would one day take his throne, “This Jesus, God raised up, to which we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this, which you see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, ‘The Lord [God] said to my Lord [Jesus], “Sit by my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘ [Ps#110:1] Let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter’s argument was irrefutable and the people were “cut to the heart”. They then asked what they should do and Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”

And about three thousand were baptized, most likely in the temple pools, and steadfastly followed the apostles’ teaching and fellowship with the breaking of bread and prayer, during their stay in Jerusalem. And so the birth of Christianity had come, but as yet had no name.

As you can see, it can be hard to determine the sequence of events and to understand the context of verses. We are dealing with a modern translation and the original one did not have verses. It is very easy to miss the underlying message. While I do not claim to have the skills to decide what is the correct understanding, I have researched each topic and read the arguments for and against differing interpretations.

As I said in the introduction, unlike the combined Gospels, this section on Christianity will very much be my understanding. So if something doesn’t sound right to you, then please look into it yourself. You may come to a totally different conclusion, and that’s okay. The more you question things, the more you learn, and that can only be a good thing.

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