1 May. Acts 2:1-4

1 May. The Holy Spirit sets the followers on fire for Jesus

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting."

"They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them."

          (Acts 2:1-4)

 

 

How do you describe the indescribable? How do you put into words the changes that a spiritual gift from God makes in someone's life? That's exactly what Luke attempts to do in today's passage from the Acts of the Apostles.

The Day of Pentecost was the highlight of the Jewish Feast of Weeks or 'Shavuot'. It was the main harvest festival in the Jewish calendar, celebrating the end of the wheat harvest, and was held seven weeks after the first barley harvest (see Exodus 34:22). As it was fifty days after Passover, it became known as Pentecost (‘pentekonta’ means ‘fifty’ in Greek). It usually occurred in late May or early June. Jesus’s first followers were filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Saturday 27th May in 30AD.

John's gospel account tells us that, during the evening of the Sunday after Jesus first rose from the dead, he appeared to his followers in the upper room (at John Mark's house in Jerusalem). He breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.' (John 20:22)

In Luke's account of the resurrection, the risen Lord Jesus appeared several times to his followers. On one of these occasions, Jesus said, 'Wait here to receive the promise from the Father which I told you about. John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised [filled] with the Holy Spirt." (Acts 1:4-5) Luke continues, "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place... They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them." Acts 2:1-4)

Some people imagine these two accounts conflict with each other. In John 20:22, Jesus's followers received the Holy Spirit; then in Acts 2:4, they apparently received the Holy Spirit again. But is this actually what it says in the original Greek language of the New Testament?

The answer is, not exactly! In John 20:22, the Greek says "Receive ['labete'] the Holy Spirit, while in Acts 2:4, the Greek says "they were all filled ['eplesthesan'] with the Holy Spirit". In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus is quoted as telling the followers that they will be 'baptised' with the Holy Spirit ['baptisthesesthe'] if they stay in Jerusalem.

The difference is in the amount of infilling with the Holy Spirit. John says the followers 'received' the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them. Luke says they were 'filled' or 'baptised' (literally 'filled to overflowing') with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

This difference is still evident in Christians today. When people believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and become Christians, Jesus comes to live in them in the power of the Holy Spirit. But not every Christian is so completely filled up with the power of the Holy Spirit that no-one can fail to notice God's Spirit overflowing from them.

And this is what happened on the Day of Pentecost in 30AD. Jesus's close followers had already received the Holy Spirit when Jesus 'breathed' on them before he returned to be in God's presence. But on the Day of Pentecost, God filled them up to overflowing [literally 'baptised' them] with the Holy Spirit in order to strengthen and equip them for the tough times ahead.

Some Christians lead a safe, quiet life of meditation and contemplation, praising God for all their blessings and praying for others. The Holy Spirit equips them to do this.

And some Christians feel galvanised to go out into the hostile world (like Jesus's followers on the Day of Pentecost) and suffer hardship, persecution and even death as they spread the gospel by their words and deeds and usher in the kingdom of God. These modern-day Christian activists (like those in Jerusalem in 30AD) need energizing with a 'double-portion' of the Holy Spirit. And God happily answers their request for more of His power by filling them to overflowing with His Spirit to carry out his will.

Incidentally, did you know that the Greek word for 'spirit' ('pneuma') is exactly the same word used in Acts 2:2 for 'wind' and 'breath'?: "Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind ['breath' or 'spirit'] came from heaven..." They were 'set on fire' and 'filled to overflowing' [or 'baptised'] with the Holy Spirit.

You can read more about these exciting events on the Day of Pentecost @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/the-believers-are-filled…/


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