The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 2

Act 2:1

DAY OF PENTECOST: Called in OT the day of firstfruits (Num 28:26); the feast of weeks (Exo 34:22; Deu 16:10); and the feast of harvest (Exo 23:16). From "fifty": held 50 days after Passover (Lev 23:16). The time of the giving of the covenant (Exo 19; 20).

CAME: "Had been fulfilled": Jewish day is a measure to be "filled up".

IN ONE PLACE: Prob the temple itself (v 46) -- the one area large enough to accommodate several thousand people.

Act 2:2

VIOLENT WIND: A "rushing, mighty wind" (KJV): associated with the cherubim and the Glory of God: Psa 18:10; 104:3; 148:8; Isa 25:6; Eze 1:4,24; 37:9 (Rev 11:11); Joh 3:8.

AND FILLED THE WHOLE HOUSE WHERE THEY WERE SITTING: "House" = "oikos", the usual way to ref to Temple (Act 7:47,49; Luk 13:35; 19:46; etc). The temple is again filled with the Glory of God.

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26). "Jesus kept his promise. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles to the accompaniment of a great sound and what looked like tongues of fire (Acts 2:2,3).

"From that day onwards, the power of the Holy Spirit shewed itself in these men in a number of impressive ways. They spoke with different languages, they were inspired to preach in a way which moved men to repentance, they were guided to faultless interpretations of the ancient scriptures, and they were able to bring honour to the name of Christ by doing miracles of healing such as he had done. No wonder people have called the book of the Acts of the Apostles 'The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.'

"The New Testament shows that these powers were for others, besides the apostles only. Other members of the growing church found themselves sharing in this rich overflow of blessing" (WGHS).

Act 2:3

TONGUES OF FIRE: Cp Psa 39:3; Jer 20:9. A fiery sword barred paradise; a fiery tongue reopened it. Cp Isa 6: burning coals placed on Isaiah's lips to prepare him for a special preaching effort (Tes 51:190). Fire = purification and salvation on one hand; judgment and condemnation on the other.

THAT SEPARATED AND CAME TO REST ON EACH OF THEM: KJV has "cloven"; RSV has "distributed". One great fire was split up into many smaller "tongues" of fire, resting upon each individual. Yahweh is a burning fire; burning words of His inspiration: cp Psa 39:3; Jer 20:9; Exo 3:2; 19:18; 1Ki 19:12; Mat 3:11; Rev 4:5.

Act 2:4

ALL OF THEM...: All the 120 (Act 1:15; cp Act 4:31), including women (Act 2:17). Other instances: Peter (Act 4:8), Stephen (Act 6:5; 7:55), Paul (Act 9:17; 13:9), Barnabas (Act 11:24), the disciples (Act 13:52).

WERE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: As promised by John: Mat 3:11. And by Jesus: Joh 14:16-19,26; 16:7-14; Luk 24:49; Acts 1:8. And by Joel: see vv 5-11. Miraculous signs through the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:42,43; 6:8. Its purpose: Acts 8:6,7.

"To the thoughtful mind the greatest argument for the resurrection of Christ must always be the fact that Christianity rose with its founder. Nothing but Resurrection can explain the transformation of the men we saw running in panic from Gethsemane into the fearless evangelists of the Acts of the Apostles. These cowed, despondent men stood forth in the city they dreaded and faced rulers and people alike, indicting them for slaying their Lord, announcing his resurrection, and baptizing thousands of repentant Jews who trembled at their words. Before they had been in mortal fear of arrest; now they were to go forth boldly facing imprisonment, persecution and death, and they were to go forth gloriously, counting it joy to suffer for his sake" (MP 353).

AS THE SPIRIT ENABLED THEM: Or, "gave them utterance" (RSV): a peculiar word used only in Acts. Apparently to denote loud, clear, miraculous utterance.

Act 2:5

STAYING: That is, only for the short period of the Feast.

Act 2:6

BEWILDERMENT: The sw used in Gen 11:7,9 LXX: the "confounding" of the tongues at Babel. This is the miraculous reversal of that event!

Act 2:7

UTTERLY AMAZED: Those who heard were in "ecstasy", not those who spoke!

GALILEANS: Who were the 120? The 12 apostles, and prob the 70 (Luk 10:17-20), and the Lord's relatives and close friends (Act 1:12-14). Cp ideas, Isa 9:1,2; Mat 4:15,16). The Galileans spoke a different dialect than the Judeans. They were considered crude, unlearned, inept in Hebrew (cp Joh 7:52; Mar 14:70).

Act 2:8

With Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, it would be impossible for them to make three annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great feasts. Jews from distant lands might favor coming at Pentecost, because of the better weather and traveling conditions in May.

Act 2:9

JUDEA: The dialect of Judea being different from that of Galilee.

Act 2:10

EGYPT: Jews were very numerous there.

Act 2:13

Act 2:13.

TOO MUCH WINE: "These men are full of new wine" (AV). Indeed they were (Mar 2:22)! "Excess of wine may give a man more TONGUE, but not more TONGUES!"

Act 2:14

THEN PETER STOOD UP: See Lesson, Peter: The look. "He who had not endured the questioning of a poor girl (in the High Priest's palace), now in the midst of the people -- all breathing murder -- discourses with such confidence that this very thing becomes an unquestionable proof of the resurrection" (Chrysostom).

LIVE: Cp v 5: perhaps sig all who were "staying" in Jerusalem, even temporarily. Any way, he expands his "audience", from Jerusalemites (here) to all men of Israel (v 22).

Act 2:16

Peter exploits the then-current signs of the times...

Act 2:17

ALL PEOPLE: No longer to be restricted (cp Gal 3:28).

YOUR... DAUGHTERS: Cp Philip's 4 daughters (Act 21:9).

VISIONS... DREAMS: By day... and by night.

"The claim, sometimes made, that the Bible promises a revival of Holy Spirit powers in the last days, is correct, but the Scripture verses are often wrongly used, and nearly always misapplied. 'And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions' (Joel 2:28).

"The apostle Peter quoted these words at Pentecost (Acts 2:17), and applied them to Jews in Jerusalem in his time. If, as seems likely, there is to be a further fulfillment of these words, it can be expected to begin in Jerusalem as a blessing upon believing Jews, since the Joel passage specially mentions Mount Zion in Jerusalem (v 32); and then spread to believing Gentiles after the pattern of the bestowal of Spirit gifts in the first century. This scripture would therefore throw considerable doubt on the claims of modern charismatic movements whose beginnings are claimed to be everywhere except Mount Zion in Jerusalem" (WGHS). See Lesson, Holy Spirit gifts, available today?

Act 2:21

First fulfillment: escape of Christians from Pella.

The ultimate reason for the giving of the Holy Spirit (from Joel 2:32): opening the way of salvation to Gentiles (Rom 5:5; Act 5:32; 8:6-12; 1Th 1:5). The finishing of the Bible brought about this purpose (see Rev 22:18,19: the seal of completion). Later, Spirit gifts to cease: 1Co 13:8-10.

CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD: Or, "calls the Name of the LORD upon himself": cp Act 22:16; Jam 2:7; Gen 48:16.

Act 2:22

ACCREDITED BY GOD TO YOU BY MIRACLES, WONDERS AND SIGNS: Proven by demonstration. The witness of the Father: Act 8:17,18.

"Think about those words, 'Jesus of Nazareth, a man APPROVED of God'. The Father was approving of the Son. As his ministry began the Father's words were, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased'; and on one occasion, the Son himself said, 'I do ALWAYS those things that please Him.' Extraordinary words that God should approve of a 'man' or be pleased with him. Yet Enoch also 'pleased' God. [Heb 11:5] Indeed men and women of faith always do. On more than one occasion God indicates that his pleasure is predicated not on sacrifices and rivers of oil, but on FAITHFUL and trusting service: 'To this man (or woman) will I look, to him who trembles at My word.' [Isa 66:2] Such are men and women approved of God" (Ken Chalmers).

AS YOU YOURSELVES KNOW: Even those who attributed the miracles to Beelzebub acknowledged the fact.

Act 2:23

SET PURPOSE AND FOREKNOWLEDGE: Predetermination and man's freewill joined together: "Yet it was the LORD'S will..." (Isa 53:10).

WITH THE HELP OF WICKED MEN: Yet this purpose was forwarded by wicked men, who did not understand how they were fulfilling the will of God: 1Co 2:8; Mat 21:38.

Act 2:24

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

AGONY: Birth-pangs: Christ was "born" of the Holy Spirit from the tomb. Cp Col 1:18; Rev 1:5.

OF DEATH: Psa 116:3; 118:27.

IMPOSSIBLE: That is, incompatible with the Divine purpose.

Act 2:25

AT MY RIGHT HAND: In a court of law, the advocate stands at his client's right hand (Psa 109:31).

Act 2:26

MY BODY ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE: "My flesh shall encamp on hope" -- pitching its "tent" on the firm foundation.

Act 2:27

Resurrection (both that of Christ and that of his followers) is the foundation of life after death. V 27 is quoted from Psa 16:10, establishing the resurrection as an OT doctrine, as well as a NT one.

NOR WILL YOU LET YOUR HOLY ONE SEE DECAY: Jesus was buried in a tomb where no bodies had previously been laid: Joh 19:41.

Act 2:29

// Paul in Act 13:35-37.

CONFIDENTLY: That is, without reserve; freely.

PATRIARCH: Founder of royal line.

DIED AND WAS BURIED: Thus, this prophecy cannot apply to him.

HIS TOMB IS HERE TO THIS DAY: On Mt Zion, only about half a mile from where Peter was standing... where many of Judah's kings shared a common tomb.

Act 2:30

KNEW: Davidic covenant: from 2Sa 7:16; Psa 89:3,4,35-37; 132:11; Luk 1:32. Even Jews knew the Messiah would fulfill the covenant to David: John 7:41,42.

Act 2:31

...Prob Christ's tomb was by now sealed up again: so no one could verify the absence of his body.

Act 2:32

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

V 31 (Psa 16:9-11) ends with Christ in heaven, at God's right hand. Vv 34,35 (Psa 110) begins with Christ in heaven, at God's right hand. Order of events: resurrection, ascension, return, conquest.

WE... ALL: That is, the apostles (Act 1:22).

Act 2:33

EXALTED: "See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted" (Isa 52:13).

RIGHT HAND OF GOD: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (Psa 16:11).

AND HAS POURED OUT: The Holy Spirit, a power subservient to the Father and the Son -- used by them, poured out, given, a passive thing (cp v 38).

Act 2:34

Heaven is not the dwelling place of the redeemed: John 7:33,34; 8:21-23; 13:33; Mat 6:10. "No man ascended to heaven": John 3:13.

Act 2:35

UNTIL: See Lesson, AN, Conditional deferment.

Act 2:36

THIS JESUS: "This same Jesus" (Act 1:11).

Act 2:38

Vv 38,39: Israel was constituted a nation by power of Spirit at Sinai (Exo 19:5,6,17-20), but following generations share in the blessings of that Spirit-birth (Deu 29:14,15). Spiritual Israel became a nation by the same Spirit-power at Jerusalem (vv 2-4; 1Pe 2:9,10); following generations partake of the blessings of that Spirit-birth (v 39). However, in neither case did the later generations see or possess Holy Spirit gifts in the same way as did the first generation! See Lesson, Gift of Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38,39).

REPENT: Baptism without repentance is meaningless. An old Jewish allegory pictures a proselyte being baptized, but never letting go of the serpent in his hand (LTJM 1:273).

AND BE BAPTIZED: Peter convinces the Jews of the Messiahship of Jesus: vv 22-36. Baptism: the first act of obedience after believing: Acts 8:12,36-39; 9:18; 10:47,48; 16:15; Luke 24:49. These obeyed: Acts 2:41.

Act 2:39

THE PROMISE IS FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND FOR ALL WHO ARE FAR OFF -- FOR ALL WHOM THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL: Quoting Isa 59:19-21: 'To those in Jacob who repent God (through the Holy Spirit?) will give the gift of forgiveness of sins... to yourselves, and to your children, and to your descendants from this time on.'

ALL WHO ARE FAR OFF: That is, even Gentiles (Eph 2:13). Cornelius in Act 10:43-48.

FOR ALL WHOM THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL: That is, EVEN for all... Even beyond the second generations, and even beyond the Gentiles in distant lands in the first century. The promise of the forgiveness of sins was and is for all men and women, in all time, and everywhere... whom the LORD will call!

Act 2:40

SAVE YOURSELVES: Lit, "Be saved." What saves us? Grace (Eph 2:8,9). Hope (Rom 8:24). Belief (Mar 16:15). Baptism (1Pe 3:21). Gospel, and its memory (1Co 15:1,2). Blood of Christ (1Jo 1:7). Faith (Rom 5:1). Works (Jam 2:24). Ourselves (Act 2:40). Endurance (Mat 10:22). What saved the "drowning man"? The rock, the rope, another man, himself... or all of them?


Act 2:41

See Lesson, Acts, conversions.

The increase of the gospel: Act 2:41,47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1,7; 9:31; 12:24; 19:20.

ABOUT THREE THOUSAND: Not necessarily all baptized that same day, but the process of instruction began then! At the giving of the law, 3,000 were slain (Exo 32:28); with the gift of the Holy Spirit 3,000 were saved (Act 2:41).

Notice sequence in Joshua: an army of "about three thousand" (Jos 7:4); another army of "about five thousand" (Jos 8:12); and a king "hanged on a tree" (Jos 8:29). Cp sequence in Acts: 3,000 converts (Act 2:41); 5,000 converts (Act 4:4); and "Jesus, whom you killed by hanging on a tree" (Act 5:30; 10:39).

Act 2:42

The memorial meeting (each Sunday: Acts 20:7; 1Co 16:1,2; 11:26-30) summarized: note the typical connections with the Holy Place in tabernacle and temple: (a) "apostles' teaching" or "doctrine": the lampstand, its light burning bright; (b) "fellowship": the offering or contribution; (c) "breaking of bread": changed and eaten by priests every 7th day; (d) "prayer": symbolized by the altar of incense [cp Exo 25].

Act 2:43

MANY WONDERS... WERE DONE BY THE APOSTLES: Acts 4:33; 5:12 -- not by the whole congregation!

Act 2:44

TOGETHER: Gr "epi tou autos": may imply unanimity of spirit and not sameness of physical location. Cp "everything in common" (here) and "to meet together" ("with one accord": AV) (v 46).

COMMON: Gr "koinonos": fellowship.

This idea of "having all things common" only seems to exist here in this original community at Jerusalem. This was forced, presumably, by the circumstances: many new converts were away from their homes, and they would need to pool their resources in order to stay together for a while. Elsewhere it seems it was not the case; Paul spoke quite often of the rich and the poor: 1Ti 6:17; Gal 2:10; 2Co 8:13-15; 9:6,7; 1Co 16:2.

Act 2:45

SELLING THEIR POSSESSIONS AND GOODS, THEY GAVE TO ANYONE AS HE HAD NEED: Despite the "commonality" of v 44, there was still some discretion as to disposal of personal property.

AS HE HAD NEED: Why such need? Mostly, due to the persecutions that arose. Cp Act 24:17; Rom 15:26; Gal 2:10; 1Co 16:1; 2Co 8:1-4; 9:1,2,12; Heb 10:32-34.

Act 2:46

TOGETHER: Gr "homothumadon", lit 'one mind'. Sw Act 1:14; 2:1,46; 4:24; 5:12; 8:6; 12:20; 15:25; 18:12; 19:29; Rom 15:6.

TEMPLE COURTS... THEIR HOMES: A combination of public and private worship. Did they meet in various houses, organized according to the peculiar language of each group (Tes 54:177)? Cp houses in Rom 16:5; 1Co 16:19; Col 4:5; Phm 1:2.

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