Acts Two

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

day of Pentecost. “Pentecost,” meaning “fifty days,” was a festival observed fifty days after the feast of firstfruits, which was held on a sabbath day. The feast of firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14) was actually prophetic of the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20), which also had taken place on the first day of the week. Thus Pentecost was held on the first day of the week, and it was on such a day that the Holy Spirit came to indwell the church. Quite possibly this fact played a part in the gradual adoption by the churches of the first day of the week as their regular day of rest and worship (note Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). The weekly observance of the sabbath was in commemoration of the completion of God's work of creation (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11), but God's great work of redemption was now also completed (John 19:30). Thus, by observing their weekly “sabbath day” (“rest day”) on the first day of the week, they would be honoring the completion of both God's work of creation and His work of redemption. Pentecost also commemorated the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, which occurred fifty days after the Passover (Exodus 12:6; 19:1, 11).

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

filled all the house. The mighty wind, representing the coming of the Spirit, “filled all the house” the house; the baptism (i.e., “immersion”) by the Spirit thus was emphasized symbolically when the Lord Jesus first sent Him, fulfilling His promises (e.g., John 7:39; 14:16).

Acts 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

tongues like as of fire. These mysterious cloven tongues seem to depict a fiery root, divided into many individual tongues, enough to reach each person in the company. They were not real fire, however, but “like as of fire.” There have been various speculations as to their nature, but since it was a supernatural phenomenon, these seem pointless. In any case, the mighty wind filling the house and the fire-like tongues reaching each of the company are the audible and visible signs that the Holy Spirit had come, baptizing and filling all of them, fulfilling John the Baptist's prophecy that Christ would baptize them “with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

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.

filled with the Holy Ghost. Although the Spirit's baptism and filling occurred simultaneously in this initial manifestation of His power, the two are separate ministries. All believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ once for all at the time of conversion (1 Corinthians 12:13). They can, however, be filled with the Spirit on more than one occasion and, in fact, are exhorted to “be [continually being] filled with the Spirit” (literal reading of Ephesians 5:18). Note, for example, the repeated fillings recorded in Acts 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9.

other tongues. These were “other tongues,” not “unknown tongues” or “ecstatic tongues.” Except when referring to the actual physical organ, the word “tongue” in the New Testament always refers to a language. In this case, the tongues are the actual languages of the different nations listed in Acts 2:9-11, as made obvious in the context.

Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

dwelling at Jerusalem. The verb here does not convey the meaning of temporary lodging, as though these men had just come to Jerusalem for the feast days, but rather permanent dwellings. These were devout Jews, who had decided, for religious reasons, to move back to Jerusalem from the various foreign lands where they had been raised (Acts 2:8), their ancestors having been deported from Israel in earlier times. There may also have been temporary visitors from these other lands, lodging during the feast days with their Jerusalem friends and relatives.

Acts 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Acts 2:7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

Acts 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Acts 2:9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

Acts 2:10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Acts 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Cretes and Arabians. Altogether, there are seventeen different nations or ethnic groups mentioned in Acts 2:9-11. This seems to be a number of some spiritual significance as representing all the world's nations. See notes on John 21:11.

tongues. These Jews from the different nations could undoubtedly speak Aramaic, for they later comprehended Peter's sermon (Acts 2:14-36), but they were amazed that the 120 Spirit-filled believers were preaching also in the languages of their homelands. This was a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit that not only authenticated the gospel, here being preached for the first time after Christ's resurrection, but also emphasized that God no longer was dealing explicitly with the Jews, but with all nations.

Acts 2:12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

Acts 2:13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

mocking. This was a sarcastic reference to the fact that the followers of Jesus were well known to eschew drunkenness, and therefore would drink only new wine (that is, freshly pressed wine, still unfermented). They could not understand them, and assumed they were speaking gibberish, like drunkards might, and so used this as an excuse to mock their stand.

Acts 2:14 But 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:

Acts 2:15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

Acts 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

this is that. Peter here assures these devout Jews that this strange set of phenomena (the wind, the cloven tongues like fire, the preaching in many languages) was not an occult pagan manifestation of some kind, but an actual fulfillment of an important Old Testament prophecy, as found in Joel 2:28-32.

Acts 2:17 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:

in the last days. This “last days” prophecy of Joel was fulfilled at Pentecost only in a precursive sense. Its complete fulfillment must await the time of the end (see its continuation in Joel 3). Thus Peter's statement: “This is that” (Acts 2:16) should be understood in the sense of “This is like that.”

Acts 2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

Acts 2:19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

whosoever shall call. This application of Joel's prophecy, as found in Joel 2:32, is valid in both its precursive and final fulfillments. See also Paul's use of it in Romans 10:13.

Acts 2:22 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:

Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

foreknowledge of God. Note the juxtaposition here of the doctrines of divine predestination and human responsibility. The full harmony of these paradoxical concepts is beyond human comprehension, but both are clearly taught in Scripture and must be received on faith in the infinite understanding of our Creator.

Acts 2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:25 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:

David speaketh. At this point in his sermon, Peter makes an extended quotation from the sixteenth psalm, quoting Psalm 16:8-11 (in Acts 2:25-27) of this remarkable Messianic psalm, which predicts the Gethsemane prayer; then the trial, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ a thousand years before the fulfillment. See notes on Psalm 16.

Acts 2:26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

my flesh. This was a prophetic glimpse of His brief “rest” in Joseph's tomb, prior to His returning incorruptible from hell (i.e., hades).

Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

not leave my soul in hell. This remarkable prophecy of Messiah's resurrection was not fulfilled by David, as Peter said (Acts 2:29). In fact, Peter and the other disciples could not even understand Jesus' straightforward promises of His coming death and resurrection, let alone the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. But when the event finally occurred, and the Holy Spirit came to indwell and teach them, Peter and the others became powerful expositors of the Scriptures, especially of the Messianic prophecies.

Acts 2:28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

Acts 2:29 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.

Acts 2:30 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;

Acts 2:31 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 2:32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Acts 2:33 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.

Acts 2:34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

he saith himself. See notes on Psalm 110, from which Peter quoted. This prophecy records a remarkable conversation between two persons of the Godhead, implying the rejection of one by His foes on earth, followed by His return to heaven for a time.

Acts 2:35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

that same Jesus. Jesus was His human name as Savior, ordained by God Himself (Matthew 1:21). “Christ” (same as Messiah or “Anointed One”) is the title representing His three-fold office as Prophet, Priest and King—first of Israel, then of all nations. To those who are His own followers and servants, He is also their Lord (Romans 10:9). Thus His full name, so to speak, to those who know Him, is “Lord Jesus Christ.”

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Acts 2:38 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.

remission of sins. Peter's message was climaxed with essentially the same exhortation as preached by John the Baptist—“the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (e.g., Luke 3:3). The difference is that now—and ever since—both repentance and baptism are to be “in the name of Jesus Christ.” This, of course, implies faith in Christ as the only one who can provide remission of sins. Repentance toward God and faith toward Christ are like two sides of the same coin, each of which implies and requires the other. The full meaning of baptism in water also had now become evident, testifying of the baptism of the Spirit, as well as the death and resurrection of Christ. It is not that baptism is required for remission of sins (note, for example, the thief on the cross), but rather that baptism is always inseparably associated in Scripture with true repentance and faith.

Acts 2:39 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.

afar off. This would seem to indicate that Peter understood the gospel message was for all nations, not just the Jews (in fact, Jesus had been quite explicit about this when He gave the Great Commission). However, Peter did not understand at this time that converts did not have to come to Christ by way of Judaism.

Acts 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

the same day. The fact that three thousand people could be baptized in one day has been doubted by some. This was certainly a remarkable response to Peter's preaching—preceded and stimulated, of course, by Christ's resurrection and the miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit. But it was certainly not impossible. Assuming that the 120 disciples who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit had already been baptized in water, either by John, John's disciples, or Jesus' disciples, it would be reasonable to assume that at least half of that company were able to perform the baptismal ceremony. There were a number of brooks and pools in the city of Jerusalem, so sixty disciples performing fifty baptisms each would be quite feasible, and would only take about four hours at the most.

three thousand souls. The precedent set on the day of Pentecost seems to indicate that the new converts should be baptized as soon as they have truly repented and believed in the name of Jesus Christ. The modern practice of delaying baptism until some convenient season, or even ignoring it altogether, is clearly unscriptural.

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

Acts 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

the church. This is the first mention of the “church” in Acts; the context indicates that the reference is to the visible body of believers there in Jerusalem, functioning as described in Acts 2:44-47.