The advent of the Holy Spirit was on a Jewish feast day—”Pentecost.” The origin of the day of Pentecost and instructions concerning it may be found in Leviticus 23:15-22—”And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave-offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat-offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave-loaves of two tenth deals: They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the first fruits unto the Lord. And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams; they shall be for a burnt-offering unto the Lord, with their meat-offering and their drink-offering, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord. Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin-offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace-offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first-fruits for a wave-offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. And ye shall proclaim on the self-same day that it may be a holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all dwellings throughout your generations. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shall thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.”

“On the morrow after the seventh sabbath,” or just “fifty days” after the resurrection of Christ, “the day of Pentecost was fully come” (Acts 2:1 with Leviticus 23:15-16). This day marks the advent of the Holy Spirit. He came down from heaven to minister among men on the earth. He came according to Old Testament prophecy. His personality, together with the purpose and power of His ministry, are clearly set forth in the book of Acts.

The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was not a “mystery.” God had announced the coming of His Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy trinity, through the prophets just as clearly as He had announced the coming of His Son, the second person of the Godhead—”Yet now hear, 0 Jacob My servant; and Israel whom I have chosen: thus saith the Lord that made thee: Fear not, 0 Jacob, my servant; and thou Jesurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s: and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob: and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel. Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside Me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:1-6).

The Holy Spirit came as a personal witness to the ministry of the risen Christ in connection with Israel and the Kingdom—”Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:29-32).

He came not to “speak of Himself” but to guide believers into “all truth” and to glorify Christ—”I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hash are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:12-15).

Throughout the book of Acts, the power of the Holy Spirit is manifested. Zechariah 4:6—”Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord of hosts” could be spread out over the entire book. It is His power and His power alone that enabled the apostles and the believers to do the unusual things recorded in the book of Acts.

Christ came from glory to the earth to dwell in a body which the Father had prepared for Him; but the Holy Spirit came to dwell in every body which God has prepared through the cleansing blood of Calvary. The believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit—”What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

As we study the book of Acts from chapter 2 through chapter 28, we shall see the purpose and power of the Holy Spirit working out through the believer in whom He is sealed and in whom He lives.

“When the day of Pentecost was fully come,” that little company of believers who had been under the teaching of the risen Christ for forty days, and who had witnessed His ascension, were all waiting in “one place” and with “one accord” (Acts 2:1). They believed the testimony of the risen Lord who had told them to wait in Jerusalem “for the promise of the Father,” and that they should “be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5).

When the Holy Spirit came He found the believers “sitting,” not rolling. He manifested His presence among them by a sudden “sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). There is no suggestion in the scripture that these waiting disciples put on any kind of a demonstration while they tarried for the Holy Spirit. We have every reason to believe that they quietly waited for His coming.

Both the purpose and power of the Holy Spirit was manifested through the “cloven tongues” of the believers—”And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:3-4).

The “cloven tongues” appeared unto them. That is, they were seen by the believers. Cloven tongues mean distributing tongues, or tongues that parted themselves and delivered the message in different languages. This explains how the believers, on the day of Pentecost, could speak in “other tongues” as the Spirit gave them utterance, and how that devout Jews “out of every nation under heaven” heard them speak in their own language wherein they were born—”And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:4-11).

The “other tongues” of this passage are quite different from the “unknown tongue” of I Corinthians 14:2—”For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”

In Acts 2, God spoke to His chosen people who had gathered back to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost. They were there from every nation under heaven and they were accustomed to speaking the language of the nation wherein they were born. It pleased God on this occasion to give power to the believing remnant to speak to their brethren with cloven tongues, or tongues that distributed God’s message in different languages.

In I Corinthians 14:2, we are told that through the unknown tongue men may speak “unto God” but “not unto men.” The unknown tongue was used by the Holy Spirit to speak mysteries which man could not understand. This is why God always appointed one to interpret when a man spoke before a congregation in an unknown tongue (I Corinthians 14:27-28). However, there was no need for an interpreter on the day of Pentecost when the believers spoke in “other tongues” that could be understood by everyone present even though they were of different languages.

Peter’s Pentecostal Message

The “devout men, out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5), who had gathered at Jerusalem to observe Pentecost, were “Jews and proselytes” (Acts 2:10). When they heard that little company of Spirit-filled Galileans speak “with other tongues” the “wonderful works of God” and when they all understood every man in his own tongue wherein he was born, “they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to the other, what meaneth this?” Some of them even mocked those who spoke in other tongues saying, “these men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13).

In the midst of all this excitement, “Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words.”

Who was this man Peter that he should have a hearing on this important occasion? A few days back, while the Saviour was being tried for His life, Peter had joined himself with the rebels and denied his Lord with bitter oaths. What is he doing here “with the eleven” and why is he the spokesman for the entire group of believers on this day of the advent of the Holy Spirit? It is just another miracle of God’s grace. The grace of God that was sufficient to lift Peter out of the defeat and failure into which he had fallen on the night before the crucifixion and let him win “about three thousand souls” on the day of Pentecost is beyond our power to understand. However, the same grace that worked in Peter’s behalf is available to every living person today—

“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt,
Sin and despair like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss,
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the Refuge, the Mighty Cross.
Dark is the stain that we can not hide,
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely, bestowed on all who believe;
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

“This is That”

Peter was ready to defend the testimony of the Holy Spirit. He said—”For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:”

Since Peter has declared that this which was seen on the day of Pentecost was that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, let us turn to Joel 2:28 and see what he has spoken. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord bath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (Joel 2:28-32).

Peter did not say, this is the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. He said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” If the nation of Israel had repented, or had been turned to God by the testimony of the Holy Spirit through Peter, then God would have restored unto Israel “all things” which He “hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).

Peter was empowered by the Holy Spirit to let the people of Israel know that what they saw and heard on the day of Pentecost was that which Joel had promised, even the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. This promise was made to the nation of Israel in connection with the last days of her earthly ministry, during the millennial reign of Christ. It could not come without repentance upon the part of national Israel. Therefore, that which was spoken by the prophet Joel was not fulfilled on the day of Pentecost and deliverance did not come in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem because Israel would not repent.

The Saviour, Jesus Christ, came according to promise. He walked before God on the earth, an Israelite, in whom there was no guile. Through His death and resurrection the way was opened for the nation of Israel to repent and receive the kingdom blessings as promised through the prophets.

The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, according to promise. On that day God was ready to pour out the Spirit upon all flesh, and usher in the “times of refreshing” providing the nation would turn to the risen Christ (Acts 3:19).

This explains why the Holy Spirit quoted through Peter the promise made by Joel—”And it shall come to pass in the last days saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21).

The Last Days

of Acts 2:17 should be carefully compared with the “last days” of II Timothy 3:1. A careful study of the context of the two passages will clearly reveal that the “last days” of Acts 2:17 have to do with the ministry of Israel in connection with the kingdom, and that the “last days” of II Timothy 3:1 have reference to the ministry of the church, which is the body of Christ.

The last days referred to in Acts are spoken of as the “great and notable day of the Lord” when the Spirit of God shall be poured out upon “all flesh.” This will be a time of blessing and not peril. On the other hand, the last days referred to by Paul in his letter to Timothy will be “perilous times” and not a time of blessing. If we were living in the last days of Acts 2, we would need no jails and penitentiaries. We would not even need to cage the lion, the leopard, or the wolf, because the Spirit of God will be poured out upon all flesh.

The present day conditions throughout the world constantly remind us that we are living in the “perilous times” of II Timothy 3:1-5, and not in the future day of world-wide blessing which will be brought about by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh.

If that “great and notable day of the Lord” spoken of by both Joel and Peter, had come on the day of Pentecost, then the sun would have turned into “darkness” and the moon into “blood” immediately preceding it (Acts 2:19-20). We know that these “wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath” were not seen in connection with the blessings poured out upon the remnant at Pentecost. But these very prophecies will be fulfilled to the letter at the second coming of Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit of God upon all flesh at the close of the future tribulation period and at the ushering in of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-30).

In the light of these and other related scriptures, it seems clear that the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, was not making an appeal to the nation of Israel to come into the church, which is the body of Christ; but was making to them another offer of the kingdom.

“Ye Men of Israel,

hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hash raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it” (Acts 2:22-24).

The Holy Spirit makes it plain that His first appeal is to the people of Israel and not to the Gentiles. Notice how He singles them out in the following verses—”Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known unto you” (Acts 2:14). “Ye men of Israel, hear these words” (Acts 2:22). “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly” (Acts 2:36). “Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this?” (Acts 3:12). This helps us to understand why the saints “which were scattered abroad upon the persecution which arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the Word to none but unto the Jews only” (Acts 11:19).

The man, Jesus of Nazareth, was approved of God “in the midst” of His earthly people, Israel, “by miracles, and wonders and signs, which God did by Him.” While performing these miracles, wonders and signs in the midst of Israel, He was preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23 with Matthew 10:5-7).

After delivering His approved gospel message to Israel, Jesus was “taken, and by wicked hands” was “crucified and slain,” Even though He was taken in hand and nailed to the cross by wicked men, we are told that His deliverance to death was according to the “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” The Son, Himself, was in that holy counsel when His sacrificial death on the cross was determined.

The eternal, triune God spoke through Isaiah saying, “Remember the former things of old: For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10). When the Father, Son and Holy Spirit declared “the end from the beginning,” deliverance of the Son into the hands of wicked men was included.

God allowed men to kill and bury His beloved Son, but He would not allow Satan to hold Him in the grave. “Having loosed the pains of death,” God raised up Jesus from the dead and exalted Him “with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).

Peter Quotes David

The Holy Spirit spoke prophetically concerning the resurrection of Christ in Psalms 16:8-11. He quotes and explains these words of the Psalmist through Peter on the day of Pentecost—”For David speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore, did my heart rejoice and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:25-31).

The flesh of Christ did “rest in hope” for three days in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea; but on the third day, God made known unto Him “the ways of life” through the miracle of the resurrection. The Son of God tasted all of death; but His flesh, though dead, did not corrupt; it rested in hope until the morning of the resurrection when the risen Christ was filled with joy by the countenance of the Father. The Son was separated from the Father while taking our place in death, and during that three hours of blackness and darkness He endured all the suffering and pain that any lost soul will be called upon to endure in the flames of hell. But on the morning of the resurrection He was “full of joy” because He was again in the presence of the Father and looking upon His countenance.

A New Title for the Risen Christ

While living on earth among His people, Israel, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and performing miracles, wonders and signs, the Son of God carried the title of “Jesus of Nazareth, a man.” But this “same Jesus” in His resurrection glory is known as “both Lord and Christ.”

Notice the language of the Holy Spirit in verses 32 to 36 of this second chapter of Acts—”This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, Until I make Thy foes Thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

By the time Peter’s message had reached the climax of verse 36, the Jews were under deep conviction. “They were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They realized that they had crucified “The Lord of glory” and they wanted to know of Peter and the apostles what could be done about it.

The answer was given by Peter in verses 38 to 40—”Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

The Holy Spirit brought the conviction and the question of verse 37. He then gave the counsel of verses 38 to 40 and as many as heard and believed and received the testimony of the Holy Spirit through Peter were saved. Notice the language of verses 41 and 42—”Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” In these verses we see about three thousand souls added to the hundred and twenty who were waiting at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. They continued in the doctrine or teaching of the apostles.

Verses 43 to 47 bring to our attention the use of wonders by the apostles, also the fact that each individual sold his possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. Their continuation in the newly formed church was “with one accord” and their meeting place was the “temple.” The ministry extended also “from house to house.”

The closing verse of this chapter brings us to this statement—”And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Not one was added without the repentance and the baptism of Acts 2:38. They continued to work on the basis that “the promise,” that is, the promise of the Holy Spirit, was unto them and to their children, “and to all that were afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Even though the promise was unto the “far off” Gentiles, they were not accepted as Gentiles until we reach the conversion of Cornelius, some eight years after Pentecost. Those added to the church on the day of Pentecost were “Jews and proselytes.”