- practical contact with and observation of facts or events.
- an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone.
John 14:16-17, 26; 16:5-15;
Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-4
And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Definition of Experience
- practical contact with and observation of facts or events.
- an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone.
What is Pentecost?
Pentecost is significant in both the Old and New Testaments. “Pentecost” is actually the Greek name for a festival known in the Old Testament as the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9). The Greek word means “fifty” and refers to the fifty days that have elapsed since the wave offering of Passover. The Feast of Weeks celebrated the end of the grain harvest. Most interesting, however, is its use in Joel and Acts. Looking back to Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28–32) and forward to the promise of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s last words on earth before His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:8), Pentecost signals the beginning of the church age.
The first thing we note from Joel’s prophesy, is a strange, and wondrous promise from God in Joel 2:28; that God will “pour out His spirit on all flesh” We should pause to consider: what does it mean that God will “pour out” His spirit?
Earlier, we see this same language of something being poured out (c.f. Joel 2:23). There, God promises that He will pour down on His people abundant, providential rain, the early and letter rain, as before (Joel 2:23c) This same language of pouring helps us to understand what the pouring out of God’s spirit. It tells us that God’s act of giving His spirit to His people will be generous, widespread, and visible: like torrential rain flowing down.
The giving of the Holy Spirit is therefore not just a stingy, inconsequential trickle. It is a very active point of view here: where we learn that God will act, He will do something for His people. As is the general context of chapter 2, we learn that God will provide and protect His people, responding to sinful and rebellious people in a generous and gracious way.
Crucially, Joel 2:28 marks a slight transition in all the previous depictions of God’s providence for His people. Notice the very strong, assertive statements: “it shall come to pass… I will pour out… they shall prophesy…” This verse shows us that God will act personally and in a widespread and undeniable way when He gives His spirit to His people.
Furthermore, we also should note who this pouring out of the Spirit is for. In the rest of Joel 2:28, God addresses different categories of the people of Israel:
the sons and daughters (Joel 2:28b),
the old, and the young (Joel 2:28c).
This blessing of the Holy Spirit is for all flesh: all of God’s people will receive His Spirit.
We should also pay further attention to the people groups mentioned in this verse. From the youngest to the oldest, from the servants to those with more, God’s spirit will be poured out to all, without distinction of gender, class, educational levels, or wealth (Joel 2:28).
All of His people will receive His Spirit.
Now from Luke’s account, Ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, on the Jewish feast day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out as promised. With the sound of a rushing mighty wind, and with tongues of fire appearing above their heads, those filled with the Holy Spirit begin to speak in other tongues (1-4). Devout Jews visiting from other countries are attracted and amazed as they hear wonderful works of God proclaimed in their own languages (5-13).
At Pentecost, the disciples witnessed the birth of the New Testament church with the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell all believers.
The description of fire and wind mentioned in the Pentecost account resounds throughout the Old and the New Testament. The sound of the wind at Pentecost was “rushing” and “mighty.”
Scriptural references to the power of wind (always understood to be under God’s control) abound. Exodus 10:13; Psalm 18:42 and Isaiah 11:15 in the Old Testament and Matthew 14:23–32 in the New Testament are only a few examples.
The power in wind gave life in the Old Testament (Job 12:10), whilst the spirit gives life in the New (John 3:8).
Just as the first Adam received the breath of physical life (Genesis 2:7), so the last Adam, Jesus, brings the breath of spiritual life.
The idea of spiritual life as generated by the Holy Spirit is certainly implicit in the sound of the wind at Pentecost.
Fire is often associated in the Old Testament with the presence of God (Exodus 3:2; 13:21–22; 24:17; Isaiah 10:17) and with His holiness (Psalm 97:3; Malachi 3:2).
Likewise, in the New Testament, fire is associated with the presence of God (Hebrews 12:29) and the purification He can bring about in human life (Revelation 3:18).
God’s presence and holiness are implied in the Pentecostal tongues of fire. Indeed, fire is identified with Christ Himself (Revelation 1:14; 19:12); this association naturally underlies the Pentecost gift of the Holy Spirit, who would teach the disciples the things of Christ (John 16:14).
Another aspect of the Day of Pentecost is the miraculous speaking in foreign tongues which enabled people from various language groups to understand the message of the apostles.
In addition is the bold and incisive preaching of Peter to a Jewish audience. The effect of the sermon was powerful, as listeners were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37) and instructed by Peter to “repent, and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). The narrative concludes with three thousand souls being added to the fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers, apostolic signs and wonders, and a community in which everyone’s needs were met.
Peter, standing with the rest of the apostles, explains that what has happened is a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32), who foretold that God would pour out His Spirit in the last days (14-21). He then preaches Jesus of Nazareth to the crowd, reminding them of His miracles, their involvement in His death, and proclaiming that God raised Him from the dead.
As proof for the resurrection, Peter offers three lines of evidence:
1) the prophecy by David, who foretold of the resurrection (Ps 16:8-11);
2) the twelve apostles as witnesses;
3) the Spirit’s outpouring itself, indicative of Christ’s exaltation and reception of the promise of the Spirit from the Father.
In conclusion, Peter pronounces that God has made Jesus, whom they crucified, both Lord and Christ (22-36).
Cut to the heart, the people asked the apostles what they should do. Peter commands them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and gift of the Holy Spirit. With many other words he exhorts them to be saved, and about 3000 souls gladly receive his word and are baptized (37-41).
That gave birth to the church in Jerusalem, which continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayers. Signs and wonders were done by the apostles, while the believers displayed their love and devotion through acts of benevolence and frequent worship. They enjoyed the favor of the people, and the Lord added to the church daily those being saved (42-47).
Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit—the pouring out of God’s Spirit to fill and indwell people—was prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2).
This event just as was predicted by Joel, Isaiah 44:3 also stated
“God said to Israel, “I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.”
The Holy Spirit is pictured as the “water of life” that saves and blesses a dying people. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted another prophecy as being fulfilled: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. . . . And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:28–29, 32).
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit ushered in a new era, the church age. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was a rare gift that was only given to a few people, and usually for specific assignments. When Saul was anointed king of Israel, the Holy Spirit came upon him (1 Samuel 10:10), but when God removed His blessing on Saul, the Holy Spirit left him (1 Samuel 16:14).
Similarly, The Holy Spirit was manifest in the lives of people like Othniel (Judges 3:10), Gideon (Judges 6:34), and Samson (Judges 13:25; 14:6) as well, to enable them to do His will and serve Israel.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on all believers in Christ, and He came to stay. This marked a major change in the Holy Spirit’s work.
Before His arrest, Jesus had promised to send His disciples the Holy Spirit (John 14:15–17). The Spirit “lives with you and will be in you,” Jesus said (John 14:17). This was a prophecy of the indwelling of the Spirit, another distinctive of the church age. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 marked the fulfillment of Jesus’ words, too, as the Holy Spirit came upon all believers in a powerful, visible (and audible) way.
Luke records the event: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2–4). Immediately, the Spirit-filled believers went into the streets of Jerusalem and preached Christ. Three thousand people were saved and baptized that day; the church had begun (verse 41).
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon humanity was the inauguration of the New Covenant, which had been ratified by Jesus’ blood (Luke 22:20). According to the terms of the New Covenant, every believer is given the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Ever since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has baptized every believer into Christ at the moment of salvation (1 Corinthians 12:13), as He comes to permanently indwell God’s children.
In the book of Acts I observed five instances of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The first is on the day of Pentecost: to Jews and proselytes in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-4).
The second is with the Samaritan believers (Acts 8:14-17).
The third is that of the Apostle Paul after he was saved (Acts 9:17).
The fourth is in the house of Cornelius; the believing gentiles (Acts 10:44-47; 11:16-17).
And the fifth is with the believers in Ephesus (Acts 19:1, 2, 6).
And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. In Samaria, when two of the apostles laid their hands on the believers, the Holy Spirit came upon them. It was the same in the case of Paul, in the house of Cornelius, and with the believers in Ephesus.
Significantly, Peter was present at three of the outpourings; Acts 2, 8 and 10.
Three times, God sent the Holy Spirit with demonstrable signs, as the Great Commission was being fulfilled. The same Holy Spirit coming upon Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles in the same manner in the presence of the same apostle kept the early church unified. There was not a “Jewish” church, a “Samaritan” church, and a “Roman” church—there was one church, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).
The outpouring of the Spirit is a fulfillment prophecy that ushered in the church age and the New Covenant in which all believers are given the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promised the Spirit as a permanent guide, teacher, seal of salvation, and comforter for believers (John 14:16-18). He also promised that the Holy Spirit’s power would help His followers to spread the message of the gospel around the world: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The salvation of souls is a supernatural work only made possible by the Holy Spirit’s power at work in the world.
When the Holy Spirit descended upon believers at Pentecost, it was not a quiet event, but a powerful one.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1–4).
AUDIBLE AND VISUAL SIGNS (2-3)
A violent, mighty rushing wind came from heaven
Filled the house where they were sitting
They saw: what seemed like what seemed like tongues of fire, divided
Came upon each one of them
FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (4)
Speaking with other tongues (known languages, cf. Ac 2:8,11)
As the Spirit gave them utterance
Immediately afterward, the disciples spoke to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. These people hailed from a variety of nations and therefore spoke many different languages. Imagine their surprise and wonder when the disciples spoke to them in their own tongues (verses 5–12)! Clearly, this was not something the disciples could have accomplished on their own without many months—or even years—of study. The Holy Spirit’s power was made manifest to a great number of people that day, resulting in the conversion of about 3,000 (verse 41).
During His earthly ministry,
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1),
led by the Spirit (Luke 4:14), and
empowered by the Spirit to perform miracles (Matthew 12:28).
After Jesus had ascended to heaven, the Spirit equipped the apostles to perform miracles, too (2 Corinthians 2:12; Acts 2:43; 3:1–7; 9:39–41).
The power of the Holy Spirit was manifest among all the believers of the early church through the dispensation of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophesying, teaching, wisdom, and more.
All those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately and permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). The Holy Spirit still works in and through believers to accomplish His will. His power leads us, convicts us, teaches us, and equips us to do His work and spread the gospel. The Holy Spirit’s powerful indwelling is an amazing gift we should never take lightly.