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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 2:4-13 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 9 secs

The Outpouring of the Spirit. Acts 2:4-13

The disciples are in the upper room when the Holy Spirit comes in verse 4, and then after that between vv. 4 and 5 some time elapses and they move from there to the southern gates of the temple.

We are told that that morning they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. As we have seen that is not the same thing that we think of in terms of the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit today in Ephesians 5:18. This is a different word that is used than in Ephesians 5:18 where we are commanded to be filled by means of God the Holy Spirit. It is the word pimplemi [pimplhmi] and describes a filling that is first of all a sovereign act of God; the people don't expect it at all. All of a sudden they are surprised and there is this ministry of the Holy Spirit upon them. It is more like the Old Testament ministry of enduement than the New Testament ministry of the filling by means of the Spirit which is related to spiritual life or spiritual growth. The second thing that we see is that it always results in something that is spoken. Zecharias, the father of John the Baptist, is filled by means of the Spirit and then he speaks. Elizabeth and Mary were both filled by the Spirit in terms of this word pimplemi and immediately after that they speak. Later on in Acts 9 Paul is filled of the Spirit and he speaks. So it is always followed by some kind of speech that is empowered or energized by the Holy Spirit. So these occurrences in Acts 2 and Acts 9 are the only times that we have this word used in terms of the church age: only in this transition period covered by the book of Acts. It is not found later on in the epistles as something describing any kind of Christian experience. It first occurs in Luke 2—three times. Then it occurs in the early part of Acts, and that's it. In Luke that is still the Old Testament; it is not the church age. So this is not related to a church age ministry of God the Holy Spirit. 

They just hear the rushing mighty wind. There is no wind, it just sounds like wind. When we look at this in terms of the fulfilment of the day of Pentecost the term Pentecost is a Latin based word related to fifty days. The day came seven weeks plus one day after the second day of the feast of unleavened bread, so Pentecost relates to this fifty-day period after Passover. The observance of this is spelled out in Leviticus 23:15-21. It is a second harvest festival. The first harvest festival is the day of first fruits which occurs three days after Passover. The typology was fulfilled when Jesus was raised from the dead as the first fruits. That is the first fruits of the spring harvest; this is the first fruits of the summer harvest. So it is expressing that God is doing something new at this event. The names that refer to this feast of weeks is first of all feast of weeks, feast of harvest, and also it is called the day of first fruits. In this event the Biblical practice as described in Leviticus was to have two loaves of bread—these were the only loaves that were allowed to be leavened; there was the presence of sin there—presented on one sheet representing the two peoples of God, the two peoples that will come together in one body in the church age: Jew and Gentile who become one in Christ.

All the fest days, the holidays, all looked forward to something that God was going to do in Israel. So we can't say that the day of Pentecost was focusing on the birth of the church, we have to restrict it to something related to Israel. If we look at the progression of events in the spring calendar with the death of Christ on Passover, the resurrection on first fruits, and now what happens on the day of Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit. That was the fulfilment. If Israel had accepted Jesus as Messiah then this would have been the coming of the Holy Spirit that would have been the fulfilment of the predictions related to the new covenant, the coming of the Spirit and the establishment of the kingdom. Here is where we get into that difficult stuff where there is still an offer of the kingdom on the table for Israel but God started something new, and so there are two things overlapping here in this transition zone. The day of Pentecost foreshadowed the coming of the Holy Spirit and what happened was that instead of something happening to Israel it is the birth of the church. But everyone to whom something happens is a Jew. It all comes to Jews, it is happening to Jews and there is nothing but Jewish Christians for the first four or five chapters of Acts.

The first fruits represent the birth of something new. This is the beginning of something new, the new organism which is the church, and the church at this point is just comprised of Jewish believers. God is just focusing on Israel in fulfilment of that Old Testament typology.

We see a transition from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ. In terms of the new stage in history with the coming of the Holy Spirit this is a fulfilment of two things that have been going on. The promise that started with John the Baptist: that one would come after him who would baptize by means of the Spirit and by means of fire. The baptism by means of the Spirit is thus first prophesied by John. He is referring to Jesus who is going to baptize by the Spirit. Then Jesus, just before He ascended to heaven, told the disciples to wait here to receive the promise from the Father, "not many days from now," and they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit. In John 16 in the upper room discourse Jesus had predicted that He would leave but He would be replaced by another comforter, the Holy Spirit. So this event in Acts 2 is the fulfilment of what Jesus had promised in John 16 as well as in Acts 1:4, 5.

This coming of the Holy Spirit is not just some sort of internal, subjective event. They were not having a religious experience, a group hallucination. What we see in the Scripture is that God never operates like that; we never have this kind of subjectivity. When God did communicate something to someone in private it was always validated by something in public. So when God through Samuel, for example, anoints Saul to be the king of Israel there were subsequent events that confirmed that in Saul's life that would give evidence to the nation that God had called him to be the king of Israel. The same thing happens here. Even though there is a subjective reality to the coming of the Holy Spirit on each one of these apostles it is evidenced by three things. There is an external sound like a great wind, there is the visual appearance of fire, and then there is this miraculous speaking in a language that they had neither learned nor acquired. That validated the subjective.

The language that is used in several verses is the term "outpouring," that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the people. This term is not technical, it doesn't mean indwelling, filling, any of these things; it is a general term that deals with all of them. There is the term "outpouring" in Acts 2:17, 18, 33 and these are the only references to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and again in Acts 10:45 when the Spirit came upon the Gentiles with Cornelius. So it is a general broad term for all of these ministries of the Holy Spirit that would include all of the new ministries that would come to the church age believer. The only other clear reference to this that has anything to do with the Holy Spirit is in Romans 5:5 which says the Holy Spirit pours out God's love on our hearts. It is not the Holy Spirit that is poured out, it is that He pours out the love of God; so that doesn't really apply to this either. These ministries are the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer, the giving of spiritual gifts to every believer, the sealing of the Holy Spirit to every believer at the instant of salvation which secures them in their salvation, and then the filling of the Holy Spirit. Of those none can be lost; none are repeatable except for the filling ministry by means of the Holy Spirit.

The next thing that happens, v. 4, is that they are all filled by the Spirit and they began to speak with other tongues. Why did God give the gift of tongues? There is only one passage in Scripture where the purpose of the gift of tongues is given—1 Corinthians 14:21, 22 NASB "In the Law it is written, "BY MEN OF STRANGE TONGUES AND BY THE LIPS OF STRANGERS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, AND EVEN SO THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME," says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy {is for a sign,} not to unbelievers but to those who believe." When Paul uses the word "Law" here he is going to quote from Isaiah 28, so he is not referring just to the five books of the Old Testament but to refer to the entire Old Testament.

This is a paraphrase here, not a word for word quote from the Isaiah passage. As Paul quotes it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he is allowed to paraphrase and reshape text because he is applying it, pointing out how it relates to a particular situation. Here he is talking about fulfilment. This is a literal prophecy in Isaiah and it has a literal fulfilment. The literal prophecy talks about Gentile languages being heard in Israel, in Jerusalem, as a sign of judgment upon the Jews: that the fifth cycle of discipline was coming—military defeat, and scattering through Gentile nations. So the confrontation is stated by God that even though he would speak to the people—not necessarily saying that He would be speaking doctrine to the people, that he was going to be teaching them the Word; but that could be there, it is not a word that is restricted to that—they would not listen. So it is a confirmation of their negative volition, it is not something that is given because it will convince and draw the Jews to God. They are going to hear this, it is going to be a sign of judgment, and the sign of judgment is that they are still not going to listen.

Paul says "tongues are for a sign." That is a purpose clause. "…not to those who believe but to unbelievers." So the purpose of tongues wasn't oriented to believers but was oriented to unbelievers. In the original context of Isaiah it is related to unbelieving Jews, and this was actually fulfilled twice in history, or three times if we want to be technical about it. In Isaiah 28:10 there is a little sarcasm going on in the text, and then the section that is directly quoted is, v. 11: NASB "Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, [12] … but they would not listen." The stammering lips and another tongue [language] is ho0w a foreign language sounds to someone who doesn't know it. What God is saying here is that the way Israel will know that I am bringing about this harshest of stages of divine discipline is that they will hear Gentile languages in the land I promised would be theirs exclusively, not outside the land. This goes back actually to Deuteronomy 28 where God warned Israel that if they continued to disobey Him they would be removed from the land. Deuteronomy 28:49, 50 NASB "The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young."

Let's track this from the beginning to the end. The initial prophecy says the sign of judgment, the fifth cycle of discipline, is that you are going to hear strange languages, languages you don't understand in the land that I [God] gave you. Why is that important? Because when God called out Abraham in Genesis 12 He said: "In you all nations would be blessed." From Genesis 12 on God's plan and purpose was to reveal Himself only through Israel. Divine revelation, the Word of God and the promises of God, as Paul says in Romans 9:3, 4, still belong to Israel. God is going to bless the nations via the Jews. So through the prophets of the Old Testament God spoke and gave His Word and revealed Himself, and gave us the Hebrew Scriptures. Then is 722 BC in the north and 586 BC in the south when God brought about the 5th cycle of discipline they heard Gentile languages in the land. Those are the first fulfilments of Deuteronomy 28. They are hearing a language they don't understand. It is simply the hearing of Gentile languages in the land of Israel. Hebrew is the language of God, not the Gentile languages. The issue is that they were hearing these Gentile languages on the sacred soil of the land God had given them. So when Isaiah comes along, and Isaiah was teaching 100 years before the invasion of the southern kingdom and the conquest by Nebuchadnezzar, he is warning the same thing. It is the hearing of those languages when they should be hearing the language of God that is the sign of judgment, the sign that God is disciplining them and is going to take them out of the land. 

The purpose for the spiritual gift of tongues is not to evangelize, that is what the spiritual gift of evangelism is for. Tongues wasn't given to give special revelation. And it wasn't given to teach the Word, that is why there were apostles and pastors and teachers. For that there was no need for the gift of tongues, that wasn't the purpose. When people were speaking in tongues, communicating in a language they had not normally or naturally acquired they may have given the gospel, they may have taught some things, they may have said other things related to the Word, but that is never the issue in Scripture. The Holy Spirit never tells us what they said when they spoke in tongues, that wasn't the issue. The issue wasn't what they said; the issue was that it was said in Gentile languages. When we get into Acts chapter two where this event takes place and all of a sudden these apostles (only the twelve) were the only ones who spoke in these miraculous languages. It was not something that they had learned or acquired.   

Acts 2:5 NASB "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven." The term "living" here does not refer to a permanent habitation. They are there for a short time, they are there for the feast period. The question is raised: were these "devout" men Old Testament believers? It is implied. We could say that because they are following the Mosaic Law and had come from Rome, Libya, all over Turkey, Asia and many other places for just this one feast day it shows their devotion to the Law and obedience to Moses. So we can suspect that a large number of them are Old Testament believers. Some obviously were not because they become saved at this time. There is a transition that occurs between those who were already Old Testament saints who make their transition into the church and others who were not saved yet and just become saved.

All of a sudden they see these men, the apostles, and when they hear this sound that brought the Holy Spirit upon them, and they come together and try to figure out the source of the noise. Then they see the men speaking to each of them in their native language.  Acts 2:6 NASB "And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. [7] They were amazed and astonished, saying, 'Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?'" Galileans aren't bi-lingual; they can barely speak Aramaic or Hebrew. They were the country bumpkins. [8] "And how is it that we each hear {them} in our own language to which we were born?"{ The word here for language is not the word glossa [glwssa] which was used earlier that is normally translated "tongues," but is the word dialektos [dialektoj] from which we get our word dialect. Then verses 9-11 list these. There are fifteen geographical areas listed.

Acts 2:9 "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, [10]  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, [11] Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our {own} tongues [dialects] speaking of the mighty deeds of God." Most of these are Jews. Some are those who have converted to Judaism.

First we have the disciples who are already saved. Now they at one time become baptized by the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues all in one simultaneous event. We will compare that with the other three events where speaking in tongues occurs in the book of Acts. In Acts chapter eight we have the circumstance where Philip and Stephen are two of six men chosen for a sort of proto-deacon role for the purpose of helping to distribute money and food to the Hellenistic widows, widows of the diaspora Jews that are in Jerusalem at this time. Philip takes the gospel to Samaria and we see that the Holy Spirit is going to be poured out in a separate act on the Samaritan believers. Acts 8:12 NASB "But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike." Then because such a great thing has been happening that they sent word to Peter and John in Jerusalem. [14] "Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, [15] who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit." So when the Samaritan believers first believed the gospel they are not baptized by the Holy Spirit; they are not placed in Christ; they don't receive the Holy Spirit. They just get justified. So Peter and John come down from Jerusalem and under that apostolic authority—the same ones that were present in Acts 2 are the ones in charge now, showing the unity of the church. The Jews hated the Samaritans and had extreme prejudice towards them—they pray for them. Then the Holy Spirit comes on them, showing the unity of the church. [16] "For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [17] Then they {began} laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit." No tongues are mentioned. They don't speak in tongues. Why? Because it is not related to the purpose at this point.

In Acts chapter ten is the episode where God is working in the Gentiles. Cornelius is a centurion and Peter goes to his household, something that was never done. A Jewish person did not go into the house of a Gentile. Peter though, because of the vision that God had given him in the first part of the chapter, goes into the house and explains the gospel and who Jesus is, 10:24-44. A couple of things here to note in relation to witnessing. A lot of things in witnessing are just common sense. What we see here in both cases is that witnessing involves a dialogue. When Peter witnessing and preaches that first sermon in Acts chapter two it is in response to people saying what is going on here. Same thing in Acts 3 & 4. People ask what is happening and there is an explanation, so there is dialogue that is going on. They are not engaged in drive-by evangelism. One thing that is interesting is that when we look at what Peter says in the early chapters he is talking to Jews who have an Old Testament frame of reference. So he doesn't need to explain a lot about who God is, about sin, about a lot of things related to the Law; he is just going to apply those passages to Jesus. But now he is not dealing with Jews. He can't assume they have a knowledge of the Scriptures; he has to explain things a little more fully. So from 10:24-34 we have Cornelius and Peter in a conversation. They are getting to know each other. What is interesting in this event is that when he explains the gospel who Jesus is, while he is speaking, the Holy Spirit falls on them because they believed in their soul and God knew what they believed. God didn't have to wait for them to say they believed; He already knew that. Then they are baptized with water. After that they spoke in languages, they exalted God. It is language that is used for just praising God. It is like in Acts 2. When they spoke in tongues they spoke of the mighty things of God. Does that mean they gave the gospel? If God the Holy Spirit wanted to say they gave the gospel He would have told us they gave the gospel. The point wasn't what they said it was that it was said on the temple mount steps in Gentile languages that makes it a sign of judgment. It is not that they gave them the gospel, not that they explained the Word; it is that whatever it was they said is secondary to the point. The point is that it was said in Gentile languages in a place where it should have been said in Hebrew and where the work of God in Hebrew had been going on to the Jewish people. But because this is a sign of impending judgment it is given in Gentile languages. That is the point. In each of these cases in Acts chapter ten where there is speaking in tongues there is a group with Peter. And they are astounded at what happens. And this is going to be talked about, it will get around, and that is again evidence that judgment is coming.