What is the Meaning of Acts 2

Exposition of Acts 2

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C. The Day of Pentecost (2:1-41)

1. The Spirit’s Coming (2:1-13)

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This is the baptism of the Spirit Jesus promised in Acts 1:5, 8. Thus, the mission was about to begin.

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Holy Spirit Anticipated[1]

  • God promised to provide forgiveness of sin and an inward change in the heart

Jeremiah 31:31-34 31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive the iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

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  • The Holy Spirit is instrumental in the NC.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

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  • The pouring out of the Spirit was to occur in the last days

Joel 2:28-32 28 “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. 31 “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the Lord has said, Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

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  • NC instituted in the blood of Christ.

Matthew 26:27-28 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

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Holy Spirit Promised in Jesus’ Ministry

  • John’s testimony

Matthew 3:11-12 11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

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John 1:33 “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’

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Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit; He sends Him.

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  • Jesus promised to send Him

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John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7

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  • Jesus’ post resurrection ministry

Jesus’ post resurrection ministry concerning the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is one of anticipation.

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John 20:22

Jesus commands the apostles to receive the Holy Spirit at the proper time. Cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8

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a. Apostles Speaking in Tongues (2:1-4)

The day arrives, Acts 2:1.

  • Every Jewish man was required to attend the day of Pentecost.

Pentecost means “50th.” Pentecost was 50 days after the Passover.

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There were two physical evidences of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

  1. The great sound.

Acts 2:1

There was a sound that originated in heaven. And it proceeded to the upper room. That sound filled the house. What did it sound like? It sounded like a violent rushing wind. The sound is described, not the feeling of wind. This is what they heard, not felt.

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  1. Fire-like tongues

“Tongue” here is the word for the human tongue. It is also be used to describe spoken language. “So here, the lapping flames that had the visible likeness to tongues enabled the believers to speak in inspired language.”[2]

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These tongues are “as of fire.” They are “like the blowing of a violent wind”

… Luke is striving for words to describe this transcendent experience.

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For Fire, see Ex. 3:2

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Notice the word “filled” occurs in verse two and in verse four.

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Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled [plhro,w ] the whole house where they were sitting.

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Acts 2:4 And they were all filled [pi,mplhmi] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

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plhro,w [more general and continual characteristic of life; not come and go; this is the one that is commanded]

Luke 4:1, “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”

Acts 6:3, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”

Acts 7:55, But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,”

Acts 11:24, “For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:”

Acts 13:52, “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”

Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”

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pi,mplhmi [this filling enabled them to rise to an occasion and minister successfully; temporary]

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Luke 1:41, “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:”

Luke 1:67, “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied,”

Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Acts 4:8, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,”

Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

Acts 9:17, “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 13:9, “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,”

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And so they spoke with other tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to speak those languages. Interestingly, Luke uses a word for filling that indicates it is temporary.

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b. The Bewildered Crowd (2:5-13)

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Read Acts 2:5-13

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The scene: There were many Jewish immigrants from many foreign countries. And when they heard this sound …what sound?

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When they heard the sound of the “tongues,” the crowd gathered. There were 120 disciples who could have been speaking up to 120 different languages, theoretically.

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Galileans aren’t exactly known for speaking multiple languages. And they are here and that is part of the miracle! And those who suggested that they were drunk, probably couldn’t understand any of the languages. So the 120 people were in groups under full control of what they were speaking and they were speaking of the mighty deeds of God.

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And in a group that size, it would still be possible if you spoke one of the languages to pick out the language that you knew, especially as you heard from others what was going on.

Clearly they were speaking real languages!

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Tongues

There is probably no practice that pervades so many forms of contemporary Christianity than the practice of tongues speaking. This practice dominates the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, moves through certain segments of Evangelicalism, and can even be found in Roman Catholicism. Many relate that they have had a “supernatural” experience of tongues, but what we’re most concerned about is what the Bible actually teaches regarding the gift of tongues.

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As we consider these Scripture passages, what questions do we have?

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  1. What is it?
  2. Who practiced it?
  3. What was its purpose?
  4. Should we practice it?
  5. ?
  6. ?

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Let’s turn to…

Mark 16:17

  1. You can speak with it. It can be described as ‘new,’ likely referring to the gift under discussion. Context is one of the miraculous. Likely miraculous.
  2. Plural, the ones who believed. A group, not specific about who would speak.
  3. “Sign” ->attesting miracle. Pointed to something greater than itself.
  4. Perhaps to the same extent as the rest of the list. E.g., we should speak in tongues to the same extent as drinking deadly poison. There are groups who believe this.

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Acts 2:1-11

First historical instance of tongues by the Holy Spirit in the church. Direct result of HS filling.

  1. Real human languages (v.6,8,11). Did they learn it all of a sudden? A miracle.
  2. “they” at least the apostles, likely others?
  3. Indication from the historical context: Authenticated the Gospel message and as a means to spread that message to the many people groups of the world at a time when they were gathered in one place.

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Acts 10:46

Peter is speaking with Cornelius, a Gentile (10:1), about the Gospel. Read 10:44-48.

  1. Languages, clearly Peter draws from his experience in Acts 2.
  2. Gentiles.
  3. A sign that these Gentiles were truly saved and that they deserved equal status with the Jews within the Christian Church. Jew/Gentile distinction doesn’t matter

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Acts 19:1-7

  1. No reason to think it’s not in keeping with previous passages. Just a few years previous to the letters to the Corinthians. Tied to prophesying, which may indicate true languages.
  2. John the Baptist’s disciples. Transitional disciples from the OT to the NT.
  3. First non-Judea recorded occurrence. Time or Location of believers doesn’t matter, nor previous religious experience.

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If that’s what you had to go on, then what do we know?

  1. Miraculous ability to speak unlearned foreign languages
  2. All believers (Mk. 16)
  3. Purposes
    1. Authenticate and spread the message (Acts 2).
    2. Demonstrate that it transcends Jew/Gentile distinction.
    3. Neither previous discipleship, time, or location matter.
  4. Not much.

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But we have the rest of the NT. Tongues only occurs elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 12-14. 14:2 is especially debated.

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Interpreters, just like you, debate whether the gift of tongues was a gift of ecstatic speech or that, like previous passages, it must be foreign languages not previously learned by the speaker.

Occurs in: 1 Cor 12:10, 28, 30; 13:1, 8; 14:2, 4ff, 9, 13f, 18f, 22f, 26f, 39

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Significant 1 Corinthians Passages

1 Co. 12:7-10, 28. List of spiritual gifts.

  1. Spirit-manifested (1 Co. 12:7-10) and God-appointed (12:28).

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1 Co. 12:29-30: Greek very clearly expects a negative answer. No, they do not all____.

  1. NA
  2. Not everyone.
  3. NA
  4. Questionable.

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1 Co. 13:1: Should we include this in data?? Why/why not?

Probably not for the following reasons.

  • Hyperbole “even if I could”
  • Under discussion is tongues of angels (tongues thus far has had no mention of angels)
  1. NA
  2. NA
  3. NA
  4. NA

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1 Co. 13:8

  1. ?
  2. ?
  3. ?
  4. Questionable.

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1 Co. 14

3 contexts that govern interpretation

  1. Literary context (“ripping verses out of their context”). Interpret in light of surrounding verses.
  2. Theological context. Interpret in light of clear passages of Scripture.
  3. Historical context. Interpret in light of history of that time period.
    1. 3 years or so earlier, Acts 19.
    2. For tongues to move beyond real human language to ecstatic speech in 3 years seems unlikely without a divine record. Argument from silence, yes. But we have no reason to assume a shift in meaning other than what we’ve already studied.

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Point of the passage: Prophesy is better than tongue-speaking (14:1 “especially”).

Purpose regarding tongues. To correct misuse of tongues. Note: you can misuse gifts God gave you.

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One speaking in a tongue….

1 Co. 14:2 To whom does he speak? To God (because no one else could understand it, only someone with infinite wisdom). He speaks mysteries…that need interpretation. Without interpretation, it is not revealed.

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14:4 Whom does the tongue-speaker edify? Himself (that’s not a Christian use of gifts!)

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14:5 Whom does Paul wish could speak in tongues? Everyone, but that’s wishful thinking. How do we know? (12:29-30). The prophesier is greater than tongue-speaker. But if interpreted, they are equal b/c other people are edified. You see how he magnifies edifying others, not yourself! Therefore, it is illegitimate to have a “private prayer language.”

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Tell me the point of 1 Co. 14:6-11(It’s vv.12-13!)… “If speaking in tongues, interpret for edification.”

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14-19: fruitful, edification, know what saying, instructing others…this is the purpose of tongues: it’s for others, not yourself! Can’t be private!

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In 1 Co. 14:20-25, more information on its purpose. It’s a sign to unbelievers. He quotes Isa. 28:11f in 1 Co. 14:21. Isa. 28:11f is a prediction of tongues. Its context is one of judgment of the unbelief of Judah, which promises that this people will not listen to God.

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14:23, the hearing of the tongues by unbelieving Jews serves to harden them against the gospel; they conclude that the tongues-speakers are “mad.” And we don’t necessarily want that, but it does harden then, per Is. 28.

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Since tongues was a sign to unbelieving Jews, as a judgment upon their unbelief, it served the purpose of informing them that they failed to believe the gospel that God had set forth through Jesus, the Messiah. Tongues then served as an indicator of the transition between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant and, therefore, tongues is inherently temporary.

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Conclusions

Defined: The gift of tongues is the miraculous ability to speak an unlearned real human foreign language.

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Purposes

  1. Authenticate and spread the message (Acts 2).
  2. Demonstrate that the gospel transcends Jew/Gentile distinction (Acts 10), time and location, and any previous religious devotion (Acts 19).
  3. With interpretation, a purpose is edification (1 Co. 14)
  4. Tongues is a sign of judgment upon Jews for their unbelief, informing them they had failed to believe the gospel. Within this framework, tongues served as an indicator of the transition between the Old Covenant (Jewish, national) and the New Covenant (Jew, Gentile, world). Tongues was, therefore, inherently temporary (1 Co. 14:21-22; cf. Isa. 28:11-12). The transition between the covenants happened once.

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Limitations

  • God did not give everyone the gift of tongues (1 Co. 12:29-30).
  • 1 Co. 13:1 should not be included in our data (hyberpole: angels?; the point of passage is to highlight love, not teach on the nature of the gift of tongues).

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Arguments

  1. The sign gifts authenticated the apostles’ unique ministry. Thus they ended when the apostolic era ended.

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  1. You only build a foundation once.

Ephesians 2:20 [we the church have] been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone,

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  1. Apostles performed the miracles:

Acts 2:43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

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Acts 5:12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.

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2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.

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  • Apostles performed miracles (sign gifts).
  • Apostles were the foundation of the church.
  • You only build a foundation once.
  • Miracles were a part of that foundation.
  • Therefore, miracles were limited to the building of that foundation.
  • Therefore, miracles/sign gifts have ceased.

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  1. Tongues was a sign of judgment upon Jews for their unbelief and served as an indicator of the transition between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant and, therefore, seem inherently temporary (1 Co. 14:21-22; cf. Isa 28:11-12).

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  1. The gift of tongues was a sign that the blessing of salvation was given to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11; 15). This gift having been given to the Gentiles is clearly confirmed today; therefore, there seems to be no need for sign gifts today.

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Furthermore, the gift of tongues is referred to as inferior and limited (1 Co. 14:5, 12-13, 27-28). The New Testament does not present tongues as a spiritual responsibility and it does not urge believers to seek experiencing it. Again, not all believers had it (1 Co. 12:30).

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The Charismatic Movement violates the New Testament’s teaching on the sign gifts, particularly the gift of tongues. People who practice “tongues” today on a wide scale do not speak a known human language. Gibberish is not the Bible’s teaching on tongues. Therefore, the common practice tongues today is in clear violation of 1 Corinthians 12-14.

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Church History

Accounts from early church history (1st and 2nd centuries) are scarce. If tongues and the miraculous continued, we would expect more references. When they are mentioned, they are usually described as having died out. Admittedly, these are arguments from silence. But that is the nature of my position. Tongues has been silenced! The data therefore, lines up with the cessationist position (meaning, the sign gifts have ceased).

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Clement wrote from Rome to Corinth (1st Century). Nothing.

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, wrote to those at Philippi; Ignatius of Antioch wrote to the churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Smyrna, Philadelphia; the Epistle of Barnabas was probably written from Alexandria; The Shepherd of Hermas may have been written from Rome; Papias was from Hierapolis in Phrygia; the Didache may have been written from Egypt or possibly from Syria or Palestine; and the Epistle to Diognetus was probably written from Alexandria.” All nothing. These were all written in 1st or 2nd century. Why the lack of mention? We can ask the question, but cannot necessarily answer it. The lack of references lines up with the cessationist position.

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There are a couple others, but the following 2 specific references are arguably the most important.

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Augustine wrote that the gift of tongues “passed away,”

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In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away.[3]

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Justin Martyr leaves out the gift of speaking in tongues from his lists of spiritual gifts,

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“For one receives the spirit of understanding, another of counsel, another of strength, another of healing, another of foreknowledge, another of teaching, and another of the fear of God.”[4]

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Plus…

Cults Speak Gibberish

  • Ancient Greek Religion: The seeress at Delphi spoke with gibberish and interpreters supposedly interpreted her.
  • Plato refers to several families who spoke in ecstatic utterances.
  • Osirius, Mithra, Eleusinian, Dionsyian, and Orphic cults are associated with ecstatic speech. In 180 A.D.
  • Celsus reported ecstatic utterances among the Gnostics.
  • Lucian of Samosata (A.D. 120-198) described gibberish as it was practiced by the devotees of the Syrian goddess, Juno.
  • Shamans (witch doctors, medicine men, etc.) in Haiti, Greenland, Micronesia, and countries of Africa, Australia, Asia, and North and South America speak with ecstatic speech.

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So, just because you call it “tongues” does not mean it’s from God or that what you are actually doing is biblical.

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Final Position: The Bible and history lead to the conclusion that the sign gifts (miracles, tongues, etc.) have ceased, although the Bible does not expressly obligate God never to use those gifts again through a human being. Technically, on occasion, He could choose, based on the evidence from the Word, to exercise sign gifts again during the church age. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say God will never give the sign gifts to individuals in the church age again. But, as far as on a mass scale, biblical and historical evidence seems to indicate they have ceased.

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Admonition: By the following the Bible’s guidelines on tongues and separation, I would recommend any believer not fellowship with those who speak gibberish (Ro. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:14-15).

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2. Peter’s Sermon (Acts 2:14-39)

a. Explains Event as Fulfillment of Prophecy (2:14-21)

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Peter, this unlearned fishermen, proclaims the gospel to thousands. He first argues that they are not drunk, as some of the men had said. They are likely being charged with drunkenness and so Peter as the spokesman feels pressed to explain. They’re not “full of sweet wine.” They may have thought this since there could’ve been men that did not hear their particular language being spoken. Plus, it is the third hour of the day, which is nine o’clock in the morning.

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Instead, Peter argues that this is “a kind of fulfillment.” I am intentionally vague on this point. This is not an exact, total fulfillment; that is not the point. Notice Peter’s wording, “this is what was spoken of.” That’s different than saying, “what Joel said has now been entirely fulfilled in this event.” To say “this was what was spoken of” gives some room that there may be fulfillment later.

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Read Acts 2:17-21. It interesting note is here’s the addition of the final phrase of verse 18. Why did he add that phrase? It emphasizes Peter’s point. There will be the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit; [… note ‘all flesh … little did Peter know that the Gentiles would receive it, Acts 10!]…. And these various people groups “shall prophesy” occurs in verse 17 and “prophesy” occurs at the end of verse 18. And his point is that what is happening on the day of Pentecost is prophesying. They are speaking in tongues and that is, when understood by the hearer, at least functionally equivalent to, prophesying.

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And Peter goes on to quote the whole passage in Joel 2 in order to get to the call of salvation at the end of the quotation. And so after Peter’s addition at the end of verse 18 until the end of that quotation is what will happen in the future. Peter quotes it, at least in his own mind, to get to the call of salvation. Indeed, the day of Pentecost is the forerunner to the eventual fulfillment of these events literally.

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So Peter explains the event with prophesy… now…Peter…

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b. Explains Event as Exaltation of Jesus as Christ (Acts 2:22-39)

Having explained the role of the Holy Spirit as prophesied in Joel, Peter moves on to the body of his sermon. Peter seeks to establish guilt (Matt. 27:25) to the Jewish people as a whole. At the beginning in verse 23 and at the end of his sermon in verse 36, we have this accusation that the Jewish people crucified Jesus.

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As well, Peter desires to prove that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. He concludes his message with that statement (Acts 2:36). This is a sermon to Jews with arguments to convince lost people that Jesus is God and the God-appointed Messiah all the while attempting to establish their guilt.

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Peter has three main arguments. First, Jesus’ life of miracles proves that he is the Lord and the Christ (v.22). Second, in verses 23-32, the resurrection also proves that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. And thirdly, in verses 33-39, the exaltation of Jesus proves that he is the Lord Christ, who poured forth the Holy Spirit.

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1) Miracles Prove Jesus is the Lord Christ (Acts 2:22)

Peter uses three different words for miracles.

  • Miracles: deeds of great power
  • Wonders: focuses on the response of the observer
  • Signs: points to something greater than the miracle itself, proofs for person and message.

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Peter argues they were well-known:

  • “attested to you by God”
  • “in your midst”
  • “just as you yourselves know”

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2) The Resurrection Proves Jesus is the Lord Christ (2:23-32)

Why wasn’t Jesus’ miracles enough? Because Jesus was crucified. And the Jews did not adhere to a doctrine of a dying Messiah.

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Therefore, he states in verse 23 that God had predetermined this plan of crucifixion. God had known beforehand his plan to accomplish this. Nevertheless, in a perfect mix of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, the Jews of that day are still responsible. “They nailed him to a cross.” And they did so through the Romans, godless men.

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But you can claim that the crucifixion was God’s plan, but how do you prove it? Through the resurrection. And so Peter proclaims in verse 24 that God raised Jesus from the dead. And this is an ordinary claim; the evidence is available.

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Keep in mind, that Jesus’ tomb is merely yards away. If the Jews wanted to determine if Jesus’ tomb was empty, they could go and look at it. Because of the nature of Jesus’ entombment and resurrection (Roman soldiers, etc.), the best explanation for the empty tomb is the resurrection of Jesus. For more on this, you can take my apologetics class. ?

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Peter argues for the resurrection of the Messiah from Psalm 16. He quotes David in verses 25-28 and then argues his point from those verses in verses 29-32. Read Acts 2:25-32

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When David wrote what he did as recorded in Acts 2:27, he could not have referred to himself because his body was in the grave and it did experience decay. David knew that God would not abandon David to the grave… David knew his body would not be dust for ever, but that he would be raised from the dead.

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But the next line “Your holy one” … would not be allowed to undergo decay… That’s quite a statement. Peter’s point is that David died and was buried and his body did undergo decay. So who is this psalm talking about? Peter’s point is that it is talking about the Messiah. And that he would not be allowed to undergo decay; in other words, he would be raised from the dead before experiencing decay. This would assume his death. In other words, the Messiah is in the grave and not undergoing decay means that in fact he had to die! Therefore, the Jews had no excuse for not believing in a dying Messiah.

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Peter’s third argument that Jesus is the Lord and the Christ, is Jesus’ exaltation to the Father’s right hand. In other words, if Jesus can accomplish the events of the day of Pentecost, then he must be the Lord and the Christ that the Old Testament Scriptures predicted.

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3) Exaltation of Jesus Proves Jesus is the Lord Christ (Acts 2:33-36)

Read v. 33. How do we know that Jesus has poured forth ”this which you both see and hear” … The events of the day of Pentecost? Because Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of God and he has received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit. And how do we know it is Jesus?

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Because of Psalm 110:1…. It is more clear in the Hebrew…”Yahweh says to my Adonai, sit…”

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In other words, David is listening in on a conversation. He hears God the Father speak to God the Son, the Messiah, “sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” In other words Jesus has been raised from the dead, He ascended back to the Father and He sat down at the Father’s right hand and He is now, verse 33, says exalted. And having been exalted He poured forth the promise He received from the Father of sending the Holy Spirit. His exaltation, and thus His Lordship and Messiahship, is the only thing that explains the events of Pentecost.

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Think of being in the crowd that day. This is the best explanation that proves the most facts (explanatory scope). In other words, how do you explain Jesus’ empty tomb and the events of the day of Pentecost? Somebody says yes, Jesus was raised from the dead I have heard but I wasn’t there…. And he appeared to those who believed Him, the disciples. How will I know this really happened and it wasn’t some conspiracy?

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Pentecost!

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How do you explain the day of Pentecost? Reasoning to the best explanation … Or shopping for the best explanation… requires that all the facts be explained. That Jesus died, was raised, and exalted proves the events on the day of Pentecost.

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C. Calls for Response (2:37-40)

Having proved that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who has poured forth the events of the day of Pentecost, Peter now calls for a response.

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He asked the question in verse 37, and then Peter gives his application in verse 38.

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Acts 2:37-38

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To repent, means to turn… To have a change of heart about the direction of one’s beliefs and actions… And to turn to the Lord and to embrace Peter’s message here. Now you notice that it is coupled with baptism. And the issue is here “is Peter giving the formula for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit?”

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In other words, is repentance and baptism required for forgiveness and the receiving the Holy Spirit? There has been much ink spilled on the matter, but I think it is simple enough to understand that Peter’s desire here is not to give a theological explanation between the relationship between repentance, baptism, forgiveness, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. That’s not his point. And if you were confused about this, you could merely keep reading in Acts 3:19.

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The promise of forgiveness and the reception of the Holy Spirit is for all… All the children of the Jews and all who are afar off… Which would include Gentiles… As many as the Lord will call to himself…. Here we have the sovereignty of God in salvation.

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In verse 40 Luke admits that he had not recorded the entirety of the sermon. Those who had received his word were baptized, 3000 people. Notice baptism was immediate.

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Meaning of Christian Water Baptism

“The Meaning of Christian Baptism”

Christian baptism is the act of immersing a professing believer in water as a public declaration. It symbolizes (1 Spirit Baptism [i.e., Christ immersed you in the Holy Spirit. Through this, He placed you into the body of Christ] and (2 your spiritual union with Christ and His death, burial and resurrection. To symbolize (1 and (2, the Bible teaches us to practice immersion.

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Water baptism is immersion in water: The word “baptize” in the New Testament means, “to immerse.” Immersion is the act of placing the believer under water (Matt.3:6; John 3:23; Acts 8:36).

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Water baptism is for a professing believer: A professing believer is someone who has committed himself to the person and work of Christ. A believer in Christ declares his faith in Jesus as Lord over all and that God has raised Jesus from the tomb. He also believes that Christ’s death satisfies the justice of God against his sin. A believer has repented of, i.e., turned away from, his sin. Instead of seeking sin, he seeks to reject it.

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Water baptism is a public declaration: The setting of baptism in the New Testament is clearly public (Matt. 3:5-6; Acts 2:38-41). It is a declaration of identifying oneself with Christ’s work (Ro. 6:1-11).

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Water baptism is a symbol of union with Christ by Spirit baptism: Water baptism is a symbol of 2 things that happened at salvation (Spirit baptism and union with Christ). Spirit baptism is Christ immersing a believer with the Holy Spirit. The result is that the believer is a member of the body of Christ (e.g., compare 1 Co. 12:13, “with one Spirit”; cf. John 1:33, “with the Holy Spirit”) and is in union with Christ, or “in Christ” (Ga. 3:27). Illustration: Just as John the Baptist immersed with water, so Christ immersed with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11).

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Water baptism is a symbol of and identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection: In Romans 6:1-11, there is a close connection with water and Spirit baptism. Spirit baptism is discussed in Romans 6. It clearly has spiritual power (Ro. 6:4 “walk in newness of life”; 6:5 “united in his resurrection”; died to sin with Christ: 6:6-11), but water baptism does not have spiritual power (1 Pet. 3:21). Since the same word, i.e., “baptism” is used of both water and Spirit baptism, water baptism is meant to be a symbol of Spirit baptism. See also Col. 2:11-12

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Conclusion

Christian baptism is the act of immersing a professing believer in water. By obeying this command, you are making a public statement, a testimony of your faith.

  1. You believe, by God’s grace, that Christ immersed you in the Holy Spirit and placed you into the body of Christ.
  2. You believe, by God’s grace, you are “in Christ,” and now you are spiritually united with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

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In verses 41-47, we have the description of the church. What exactly did the early church do? How did the Lord add to their number? What was there focus?

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There were four things (vv.42).

1. Apostolic teaching

2. Fellowship: the sharing spiritual blessings.

3. The Lord’s supper, referred to as the breaking of bread.

4. Prayer

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There were four results to this kind of church focus (Acts 2:43-47).

1. Fear and awe, an appropriate emotional response given the signs accomplished among them.

2. Fellowship, the sharing of material things, 44. Think of the day of Pentecost: all the people from all over the known world have come to Jerusalem and received Christ. Someone would’ve stayed others would’ve perhaps gone back home with other believers. There was great financial need. Chapter 5 again records this kind of sharing. But this kind of sharing is not mentioned afterwards, so it may have been temporary. “As is needed is the key.” Acts 5:4 proves it is not required.

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3. Favor enjoyed, v. 47. …for now, at least!

4. Church growth, the Lord adding to their number, v. 47.

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Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from What is the Meaning of Acts 2

Go to New Testament Books Page

Go to Acts Main Page

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  1. Structure adapted from Gary Reimers unpublished lectures on the Holy Spirit.

  2. John B. Polhill, vol. 26, Acts, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 98.

  3. Philip Schaff, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. VII (New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886), 497.

  4. Roberts, Alexander ; Donaldson, James ; Coxe, A. Cleveland: The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. I: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325 (Oak Harbor : Logos Research Systems, 1997), 214.

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