Archive for April 2008

Acts 2

April 3, 2008

The 120, including the Jesus’s disciples and “the women” were in “one place,” probably the Upper Room, and they were “of one accord” (Gr. homothumadon).  A violent wind sound came from heaven and filled the room and tongues of flame came and rested on each one. They began speaking of God’s mighty works… in languages other than their own.

The scene then shifts to a public place, where pilgrims hear the speakers. Some people hear the speakers in their own native language, even though the speakers had never spoken that language. Other people thought the speakers were drunk and therefore presumably were hearing something other than those who understood. 

Peter answers their perplexity by interpreting these events as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, that the Holy Spirit would be poured onto everyone and that they would dream dreams, see visions, and prophesy. God would show them wonders in heaven and on earth, with the sun darkened and the moon turned to blood. Most important, everyone who called on the Lord would be saved. Peter claims that this prophecy referred to the coming of Jesus, and quotes from Psalms 16 and 110 to identify Jesus with the child of David who God had promised David would rule forever. 

Finally, Peter shames the listeners by telling them they have crucified the Messiah and urges them to repent and be baptized. He says that the promise of redemption is not only for them and their children, but also for those who are “far off.” Three thousand people follow Peter’s call. They were notable because they shared everything according to need, and marked it by the fellowship of breaking bread and praying. This chapter underlines that they sincerely took joy in eating. And so the congregation grew.
Notes
1.  The opening image is of oneness. The people are together, unified in purpose, and the room becomes filled with sound. The unity is then intensified by the Holy Spirit, which enters each of them and erases the barrier of language that God created in Genesis 11. This then transforms in an unexplained manner to a duality, in which some people understand what is being said, and others imagine that the speakers are drunk.
2.It is unclear what differentiated those who mocked the speakers from those who saw it as miraculous. But those who heard, heard of God’s mighty deeds. One interpretation is that the speakers are not speaking any human tongue, but the language of Heaven, the universal language that existed before Babel divided humankind. The hearers either understand the language of Heaven, which sounds like their native tongue, or they do not, in which case it sounds like drunken babbling.
3. Peter says that “God made this Jesus…both Lord and Christ.” This seems to conflict in some degree with the general doctrine of the Trinity, which holds that the three persons of the Trinity are equal.
4. In John 20:22, the Holy Spirit comes only to the disciples, but in Acts to many.
5.  Pentecost means 50 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover
6.  In 1 Cor. 14:1-33, the tongues must be interpreted. Here, some people understand and some people don’t.
7.  The version of Joel’s prophecy in Acts does not match the Septuagint. “In the last days” replaces “afterwards,” “they shall prophesy” is added, and “above” has been added to “heavens,” “below” to “earth” and “signs” See Chris Haslam’s commentary.