Acts 2:1-13 NASB
¹When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
²And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
³And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
⁴And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
⁵Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. ⁶And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.
⁷They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? ⁸And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? ⁹Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, ¹⁰Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, ¹¹Cretans and Arabs-we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
¹²And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” ¹³But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”
Acts 2:1 KJV
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
It is a pity that the NASB and different other translations leave out of their text that they were there “with one accord” for the word “homothumadon” is in the Greek text, and my opinion is, that this word has an special meaning in the whole event of Pentecost.
On the day of Pentecost around the hour of the morning prayer (Acts 2:15), all the disciples were together, probably in the temple (cf. Luke 24:53).
This group of disciples consisted not only of the twelve apostles, but of ‘all’, including the brothers of Jesus and the women of Galilee, who are also mentioned in Acts 1:4.
They were there “homothumadon” (one of desire, with one accord, cf. Acts 1: 14).
This also certainly points to the united prayer for the filling with the Holy Spirit, which Jesus had promised them (Acts 1:4,5,8).
The expression “at the fulfillment of the day of Pentecost” is typical of Luke (cf. Luke 9:51) and indicates that the period of waiting, which ends with the day of Pentecost, has come to an end.
The word “Pentecost” is a corruption of the Greek “pentëkostë” which means “fiftieth” (day). This name is taken from the fifty days that the Israelites were to number after the day on which the first sheaf of grain of the new harvest was presented to God as an offering (see Leviticus 23:15-21; Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:9). This offering was usually made on the second day of the Feast of Unleavened bread; the feast of weeks of Moses (Pentecost) ended the grain harvest.
Acts 2:2 KJV
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) was accompanied by an audible and a visible sign of God’s glory.
First, from heaven came “a sound LIKE A mighty stormy wind.” Mind you, Lucas only mentions that the sound was LIKE that, not the presence of wind.
Incidentally, storm wind is a symbol of God’s glory (cf. 2 Samuel 22:11; 2 Kings 2:11; Job 38:1, 40:1; Psalms 50:3; Hebrews 12:18).
Furthermore, the word “pnoë” (wind) is used in the LXX as a translation of the Hebrew “rūach” (spirit, breath, wind). A sound of wind thus fits perfectly with this outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples (cf. John 3:8).
This sound ‘filled the whole house’, with Luke’s choice of words reminding us of the revelations of God in the temple (see 1 Kings 8:10,11; 2 Chronicles 5:13,14; Isaiah 6:4).
It is, of course, possible that the house where they were sitting still refers to the upper room mentioned in Acts 1:13. However, Lucas’ choice of words, in Acts 2:15 mentioned time (during the morning prayer, cf. Luke 24:53) and the presence of a large crowd (cf. vs 6,41) rather suggest that the Holy Spirit was poured out in one of the temple rooms or porticoes (compare Acts 3:11; 5:12; John 10:23).
These spaces were also called “oikos” (lit. house) (Josephus Ant. 8,3,2).
Acts 2:3 KJV
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
In addition to an audible sign of God’s presence, a visible sign appeared: “tongues AS OF FIRE.” They saw a light phenomenon, similar to what Moses saw in Exodus 3:2.
Again, there are no real fire flames.
The word “glossai” (tongues, here: flames) returns in the next verse, but in the sense of “languages”.
The many ‘tongues as of fire’ were distributed in such a way that it sat on each of those present.
The verb form “ekathisen” (he sat down) is singular.
The subject is not indicated, but it may mean that each (singular) of the ‘tongues’ was placed on one of the people present, but also (and this is what I think) that the Holy Spirit was given to each of them personally (so not just as a group).
No doubt these flames like fire are a symbol of the power of the Holy Spirit, that was given to each of them.
We must remember that the two phenomena mentioned (sound, tongues like fire) are not the Holy Spirit Himself, but signs of God’s glory accompanying the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And while Bibles for children and youth, and other books give much attention to the visible phenomena, I think more attention should be given to the fact that they all received the Holy Spirit. These signs are given to us so we should give notice to the fact, and remember it. God gave His Spirit to us.
When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, a physical form like a dove was discernible and a voice sounded from heaven (Luke 3:22; cf. Matthew 3:16 ff.).
In Acts 4:31 it mentions a kind of earthquake, but elsewhere (Acts 8:17; 10:44; 19:6) these phenomena were missing.
Both signs were presumably short lived (see Acts 2:6).
Acts 2:4 KJV
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance
At that time the disciples were “filled with (with) the Holy Spirit.”
This was fulfilling Jesus’ promise that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).
“All” indicates that not only the twelve apostles, but all the disciples present, both men and women (Acts 2:17,18), received the Holy Spirit.
This fulfillment was followed by a permanent indwelling of the Spirit in the disciples (cf. Romans 8:9,11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).
The first expression of this indwelling of the Holy Spirit was speaking in ‘other tongues’ (cf. Acts 10:46; 19:6; Mark 16:17; 1 Corinthians 12:10,28), whereby “glōssai” (tongues, cf. Acts 2:13) means “languages” (cf. Isaiah 28:11).
On this occasion they were the vernacular languages of the in Acts 2:9 ff. said peoples (cf. Acts 2:6).
Later, when new translations were introduced, the old word “tongue” (meaning language or dialect) stayed in the translations.
The caused that certain churches (especially the Pentecostal churches) this got a whole new meaning, and they even speak of “tongue language” (language language?) as if it is a language like English, French, or German.
“Speaking in tongues” took in these churches the meaning of a (prayer) language, which is uttered, while the people themselves don’t understand what he or she is saying.
My opinion however is that Peter, when he spoke his sermon to the people, that was understood by all of them in different languages, knew very well what he was saying. Hence I link this speaking “in other languages” to the universal language that was spoken, before the language was confused in Babel.
These churches however hold it that Peter only spoke to “the others” (probably local Jews) who mocked them.
Acts 2:5 KJV
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Jerusalem was also home to Jews who had immigrated from far away. And also this day was a special day that caused the Jews to come to Jerusalem. Even from the surrounding countries.
Luke here calls them “pious men,” because they made the journey to Jerusalem for religious reasons.
Some had come to study the law and apply it concretely, such as Paul from Tarsus (Acts 22:3), others were driven by a desire for the restoration of Israel and the coming of the Messiah, and still others wanted to be buried in the Holy City.
“kat-oikountes” (resident) implies that Luke has in mind these immigrants and not especially the pilgrims who were in Jerusalem in connection with Pentecost.
Acts 2:6-8 KJV
⁶Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. ⁷And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? ⁸And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
By “phònē” (sound, voice) can be meant both the sound (Acts 2:2) of the wind (cf. John 3:8) and the voice of the disciples.
That such a large crowd could gather so quickly among the disciples indicates that this first outpouring of the Holy Spirit probably took place in the temple, or else in a place that was readily accessible to the public.
The Jews of foreign descent were baffled because they heard the disciples speak in their own mother tongue, the language of the country where they were born.
We may imagine that the different disciples each proclaimed in a different language the great deeds of God (cf. Acts 2:11). These languages were recognized by the foreign Jews.
These foreign Jews were amazed.
The reason for this surprise was that they could rightly not imagine that these ‘Galileans’ could speak so many foreign languages.
The word “ouk” (not) indicates that to the question “Behold, are not all these that speak there Galileans?” an affirmative answer is expected. They could probably tell from the clothing of the disciples that they were from Galilee, or they had already got to know the group of disciples in the temple before this day (Luke 24:53).
It is now established that the disciples actually spoke in the languages (Acts 2:11) of the regions where these foreign Jews “were born.”
The countries concerned are listed in Acts 2:9-11.
The Galilean disciples were not recognized by their Galilean Jewish dialect, because they spoke precisely in the foreign languages.
By the Holy Spirit, by speaking in tongues (in other languages; Acts 2:4,11), the curse of the confusion of tongues (cf. Genesis 11:5-9) that separates the nations was temporarily lifted.
The Holy Spirit gives a foretaste of the coming kingdom of God, in which there is no longer room for this curse. Then perfect communication will be possible between the people of the different nations.
Acts 2:9-11 KJV
⁹Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, ¹⁰Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, ¹¹Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
“All the nations under heaven” (Acts 2:5) are now further specified.
Luke starts his list of nations and countries from east to west.
Major Jewish minorities resided among all the afore mentioned peoples and areas.
▪︎ The ‘Partn’ lived just outside the eastern border of the Roman Empire in what is now northern Iran.
▪︎ The Medes and Elamites lived east of the Tigris in present-day Iran. However, both names date from the time of the OT, when part of the ten tribes were also deported to this area (2 Kings 17: 6).
▪︎ Luke then mentions the inhabitants of Mesopotamia ‘, present-day Iraq. The Jews mainly settled here during the Babylonian exile.
▪︎ Then follow the inhabitants of Judea,
▪︎ of Cappadocia (Eastern Turkey),
▪︎ of Pontus (Northern Turkey)
▪︎ and Asia (Western Turkey).
▪︎ Phrygia was located in the interior of the province of Asia. Here were the famous cities of Filadelfia, Laodicea and Colosse.
▪︎ Pamphilia covered part of the coastline of southern Turkey. Here was, among other things, the city of Perge (Acts 13:13).
▪︎ Nearly a million Jews lived in Egypt, mainly based in Alexandria.
▪︎ Still further west are “the regions of Libya near Cyrene,” where a quarter of the population consisted of Jews. These Jews even had their own synagogue in Jerusalem (6:9).
▪︎ Thousands of Jews also lived in Rome. Luke here calls them “epi-démountes” (abiding, abiding) to indicate that they had not all settled permanently in Jerusalem.
From all the aforementioned countries and nations, both born Jews and “proselutoi” (Gentiles converted to Judaism) had settled in Jerusalem.
These “prosélutoi” (often rendered “proselytes” or “fellow Jews”) usually did not speak Hebrew, but they were circumcised and kept Jewish law.
▪︎ Many Jews had also settled on the island of Crete (cf. Titus 1:10-12),
▪︎ while in Arabia converted to Judaism still lived in Arabia until the 7th century AD. However, the contacts of Judaism with this area date back to the reign of Solomon (10th century BC).
All these Jews and fellow Jews heard the disciples “speaking the “megaleia” (greats, great things) of God. However, the whole expression can best be rendered: they heard them “magnify God” (cf. Acts 10:46).
With “glōssai” (tongues, languages) these are clearly the languages spoken in the mentioned near and distant regions and countries (cf. Acts 2:8).
The ‘sound AS OF a storm wind’ (Acts 2:2) and the ‘tongues AS OF fire’ (Acts 2:3) had apparently ceased, because the bystanders no longer mention it.
Acts 2:12-13 KJV
¹²And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? ¹³Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
After enumerating all the countries and peoples from which Jews and fellow Jews had migrated to Jerusalem, Luke takes up the words of Acts 2:7 again.
The assembled Jews asked each other, “What would this be?” They could well understand the words of the disciples, but the meaning of this praise in many languages was not yet known to them, and they could not understand what happened, and why all could hear them in their own language.
The “others” mentioned by Luke here were probably Jews from Jerusalem and Judea, who had no knowledge of foreign languages.
The miracle of languages passed them by (cf. 1 Corinthian. 14:23).
Incidentally, even if they had recognized the words of the disciples as foreign languages, many of them would have denied the divine origin of this miracle. After all, they had also done this with the miracles of Jesus (cf. Luke 11:15 ff.). The disciples were now charged with drunkenness.
“gleukos” (sweet wine) is presumably wine that has been preserved for longer use, by means of honey and spices.
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