I attended a pretty nice Coffeehouse a few years back that was titled “Acts2Night”, and ever since then I’ve always assumed Acts 2 is a passage about of fellowship, where people are unified under Christ. It’s true .. at a bit of a stretch. Yes, that message is emphasized in Acts 2:42 onwards, and yes, the Holy Spirit unifies believers, but now that I’m actually reading it it seems like there’s alot more.
The events go as follows, and as I mentioned above I’m choosing to focus on the first two.
- The Holy Spirit comes and the Apostles break out in Tongues.
- Peter delivers a Sermon.
- The believers fellowship.
So right before this passage, Jesus ascends into heaven and then the apostles find someone to replace Judas.
The apostles are all gathered together in one place before the coming of the Holy Spirit, and they begin to speak in tongues as a sign (4) that they are filled with the spirit. It’s at this moment that we can see they are clearly speaking in a real language because they are understood by the Jews (6). This isn’t the gift of interpretation, they are hearing in their native languages (8). They aren’t using this gift to break language barriers either, as they could’ve used Greek for that. It’s the first demonstration of an overflow of the Holy Spirit to change the hearts of these unbelieving people.
And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
There’s a lot of context that comes along with Acts, and it’s definitely a lot easier to appreciate right after reading the Gospels.
First off, can we appreciate the fact that this is the same Peter that denied Jesus 3 times not even a week ago!!! (Acts 1:5 states they will be baptised in the Holy Spirit in a couple days, and this takes place several days after the crucifixion.) This is the same Peter that told Jesus he loved him as a friend would, when Jesus asked him if he loved him unconditionally (John 21:15, needs Greek translation). This is Peter with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then, Peter proclaims that everyone has access to the spirit. In Acts 2:17-21 he says everyone will prophesy, see visions, and be saved by calling upon the Lord. You didn’t just hear the word of God casually before this, God chose people to speak to for him. Yet, an ordinary person is now able to prophesy because of this gift from God, and while there are many other gifts it seems like prophesy is among the most authoritative.
The time after Jesus’ death was a very important period. Jesus promised many, many things to come, and died to bring the World salvation and give us access to the spirit. If Jesus wasn’t God, Jesus’ revolution would settle down, and if nothing happened after Jesus’ ascension it would soon be dead. How come Christianity spread like a wildfire after his death?
Not only were the apostle’s filled with the spirit, they were given authority from God. Look at the way Peter speaks, look at the way he responds (Acts 2:38-41), and look at the way he heals (Acts 3:6)
Everything going on in this passage is ad lib. Peter is convicted, knowing that at this precise moment he is not the one speaking, but the Holy Spirit who choose the exact words that were necessary to change thousands of hearts. And he acknowledges this in Acts 2:33 because he wants everyone to know what this ‘spirit’ is.
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
What do these believers now do? You can even see the change in their lives after they are baptised (Acts 2:42 onwards). This passage is drastic, but it’s literally just the beginning of things to come. The whole book of Acts is filled with, well, Acts of the Apostle’s and similar works they did before meeting their ends for the glory of the Kingdom.
Everything about this chapter displays the majesty of the Holy Spirit, yet we can still take this for granted and disregard the difference the Holy spirit makes in our lives. Should I be seeing these drastic changes in my life too?
Christianity was founded on Jesus’ death, by his trinitarian counterpart, the Holy Spirit. Never forget that 🙂
Michael “Almost got through without an Acts pun” Ru