The Book of Acts week 4 Study will focus on the birth of the Christian church on the Day of Pentecost. We can examine this critical event by attempting to answer the following questions:
What was the original meaning of the Day of Pentecost?
Pentecost (which means "fiftieth") was originally a Jewish agricultural holiday celebrating the harvesting of the grain.
In the Old Testament it was known as the Festival of Weeks (Exo 34:22 and Deut 16:10) because it fell seven weeks after the Passover (hence 50 days and the name Pentecost). Passover celebrated Israel's Exodus from Egypt.
Pentecost also commemorated the giving of the law at Mount Sinai (again, 50 days after Israel's liberation from Egypt at Passover). At the giving of the law, the people of God became the nation of Israel.
What actually happened on Pentecost according to Acts 2
Acts 2:1-47 narrates a remarkable event that occurred on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1).
Read Acts 2:1-4
Read Acts 2:5-12
In response to the crowd that gathered that day, Peter gave a spirited defense of the events that were transpiring:
The Book of Acts indicates that 3,000 people responded to the message and, including the first 120 in the upper room, the Christian church was born that day.
What role does Pentecost play in the Book of Acts?
Read Acts 8:14-16; 10:44-47; 11:15-16; 19:6-7
What theological principles are communicated by the events of Pentecost?
1 Cor 12:10 says that "tongues" is a gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the same word that appears in the Pentecost description when the apostles were speaking to the crowd about the glories of God (Acts 1:5). 1 Cor 14:22 speaks about the use of "tongues" in a worship service.
God's Spirit now lives within each Christian and within the Christian church (See 1 Cor 6:19; 1 Cor 3:16 where "you" is in the plural.) In the Old Testament, God's spirit was given only to specific individuals for specific tasks and he came "upon" a person but did not take up residence with a person.
One of the key principles communicated by the coming of the Holy Spirit has to do with divine history. We are living at the dawn of a new age.
With Jesus' coming and the giving of the Holy Spirit we now live in the blue sphere (the new era, the last days, etc.) This is the place of healing, new life, restoration, new creation and the kingdom of God. We can heal the sick, restore sight to the blind and liberate the oppressed by the power of God's Spirit.
However, we still live in the red sphere (the old era, the old age) of death and sin.
This tension means not that we escape this world awaiting a life of future bliss, but that we role up our sleeves and seek to transform every aspect of this world toward the life giving principles of God's kingdom. This is part of what it means to live "in the Spirit"!
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