Pentecost Acts 2:1-47

June 3, 2009

Again, just a type version of a recent study we did over here; this time over Acts 2 on Pentecost Sunday.

Four verses of action (Ac. 2:1-4) require a whole chapter of explaining.  Four verses of action filled with intriguing imagery and occurrence that have goaded many to wonder at the Old Testament connections of the event.  The feast of Pentecost is underway.  A time when the “firstfruits of the harvest” are brought in and celebrated (Dt. 16:9-11).  The sound of wind or spirit (what a wonderfully ambiguous word!) without presence of wind draws us back to the creation story (Gen 1:2, 2:7).  The tongues of fire remind us of YHWH’s leading of his people through the wilderness (Ex. 13:21).  The coming of the Spirit recalls Moses’ longing “that all the Lord’s people were prophets”  (Nu 11:29).  And the varying languages spoken in the tongues of “every nation under heaven” and their confusion are both reminiscent of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11).

Frankly, its not surprising those who witnessed the event responded as they did.  Confusion: “How is this happening?” (Ac. 2:7).  Questioning: “What does this mean?” (2:12).  And skepticism, or even cynicism: “They’re drunk!” (2:13).

And so, amid such thoughts, Peter stands up to preach a three point sermon, each revolving around Old Testament quotations.  As I’ve studied the passage, it seems the theme of Peter’s message is stated in his first point/quotation: we are in the last days. Here’s how I see Peter’s message breaking down:

Point #1 Acts 2:14-21 – The Spirit is here (Jl. 2:28-32)–therefore, the last days have come, restoration is here and the firstfruits of the great harvest of God are already being brought in! (Note: Pentecost vs. the desolation of Joel 1-2:11)

Point #2 – Acts 2:22-32 – Death is already being defeated (Ps. 16:8-11) in Jesus’ body–therefore, Jesus is living proof that death and all his friends are already being condemned by the life that is already available in Jesus!

Point #3 – Acts 2:33-36 – Jesus is already reigning (Ps. 110:1)–therefore, how will you live, in these last days, when life is finally being restored?

The implications of the message are simple.  How will you reorient your life around the current reality Peter has just declared?  Will you live as if the end were not already so near?  Will you live in the death you have always known?  Will you choose slavery to the old masters?  Or, will you live these last days enjoying life under the great King?