Guests: Bruce Johanson, Carl Cosaert and Zdravko Stefanovic
This week’s lesson focuses on Acts 2:1-4. This is commonly called the story of Pentecost where, according to the promise of Jesus, the Holy Spirit manifested itself in a remarkable manner. Of a sudden, there was heard the sound like a rushing wind that filled the house, and tongues of flame appeared on each of the persons present. It says further that “…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:4)
The affects of this happening were immediately obvious for they all began to speak in other languages which were understood by natives of the various land in whose languages they spoke. Very quickly, a situation developed that resulted in Peter’s great sermon that, in turn, resulted in about 3,000 people believing in Christ and being baptized.
By any measure, such happenings are stupendous. It is no wonder believers have longer for, and worked for, and tried to reproduce Pentecost.
There are several aspects to this happening that should be looked at.
First, there is the promise Jesus made just before He ascended up to heaven in which he said the disciples would be baptized by the Spirit “…in not many days.” (Acts 1:4-5) This is a specific note that the Holy Spirit would come in a more marked way. The disciples were told to remain in Jerusalem together to await the fulfillment of the promise.
A second aspect of this story has to do with the disciples waiting. This time of waiting seems to have been characterized by a great sense of unity and contrition. In Acts 1:14 it indicates that, together with certain of the women, they were praying persistently.
Questions for Discussion:
- Do you think Pentecost can be replicated by having people copy what the early disciples did?
- Do you think there is any connection between Jesus’ ascension and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Why do you think the ascension had to happen first?
There is a perennial discussion connected to this passage, too, over the question of languages vs. some kind of Holy Spirit-generated ecstatic utterance. Here it is clearly language. At least those listening heard known human languages. To be sure, those who heard were astonished, but astonished because of the sudden ability the disciples manifested to speak other languages.
The affects of the fact that these were actual languages should not be missed. People came to faith. By giving this ability to the disciples, the Holy Spirit expanded the borders of the kingdom.
Once again, wind is the way the Spirit is manifested. What thoughts do you have from comparing the Holy Spirit with wind?