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The Acts of the Apostles: Chapter 2

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1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:17

‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22“You that are Israelites, a Or from house to house listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, b Or sincere a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know—23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, c Or swelling up because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25For David says concerning him,

‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29“Fellow Israelites, d Gk the Nazorean I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31Foreseeing this, David e Gk Israelites spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, f Gk the Nazorean saying,

‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’

32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at g Gk the pains of death the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.” ’

36Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, h Gk Men, brothers this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, d Gk the Nazorean what should we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds a Gk he to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home b Or the Christ and ate their food with glad and generous c Or by hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Notes:

d Or swelling up

b Or from house to house

c Or sincere

d Gk the Nazorean

a Gk Israelites

b Gk the Nazorean

c Gk the pains of death

d Gk Men, brothers

e Gk he

f Or the Christ

g Or by

Text Commentary view alone

2.1–41 : The day of Pentecost.

The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Lev 23.15–21 ), the spring barley harvest, falls fifty days after Passover. Jewish tradition held that the law had been given on this day.

1–13 :

The coming of the Holy Spirit.

2 :

Rush of a violent wind, perhaps an allusion to Gen 1.2 (“while a mighty wind swept over the face of the waters” [alternate version]), though this and other features here are typical of theophanies—manifestations of God (Ex 19.16–19; 1 Kings 19.11; Isa 66.15 ).

3 :

John the Baptist had predicted a baptism “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Lk 3.16; Mt 3.11; cf. Mk 1.8; Jn 1.33 ).

4 :

This baptism ( 1.5 ) or filling with the Spirit is clearly foundational for Acts but is not referred to elsewhere in the New Testament (but cf. Jn 20.22 ).

5 :

Devout Jews from every nation, emphasizing the universal character of the Pentecost event.

6 :

The other languages (v. 4 ) are foreign languages, not the “tongues” of 1 Cor 14.1–33 . Perhaps the author thinks of a reversal of the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel (Gen 11.1–9 ).

9–11 :

The list of countries and races, generally moving from east to west, suggests universal participation in the Pentecost event.

10 :

Proselytes, full converts to Judaism.

13 :

Filled with new wine, i.e., drunk (v. 15 ).

14–36 :

Peter's sermon. Like other Hellenistic historians Luke provides characters with speeches appropriate to their circumstances. This does not exclude the use of traditional material but assures the presence of the author's concerns. The speeches share the pronounced biblical style in which Luke has composed the early chapters of Acts.

14 :

Peter remains the spokesman for the apostles ( 1.15 ); individualized actions by the others are not portrayed in Acts.

16 :

The event is interpreted as a fulfillment of scripture.

17 :

In the last days is added to the beginning of the quotation of Joel 2.28–32 .

22 :

A man, Luke does not think of the incarnation of a divine being. Deeds of power, wonders, and signs, biblical language (e.g., Deut 4.34; 6.22; 26.8 ) used often in Acts.

23 :

The crucifixion of Jesus by Jews and Gentiles was part of a plan, see Lk 22.22; 24.26; Acts 4.27–28 .

25 :

Ps 16.8–11 . David, see 1.16n.

29 :

His tomb, see, e.g., Josephus, Ant. 7.392–394 .

30 :

2 Sam 7.12–13; Ps 132.11 .

31 :

The Messiah is assumed to come from the line of David (cf. Rom 1.3 ).

32 :

Witnesses, see 1.22n.

33 :

Exalted, a reference to the ascension. The promise, i.e., Joel 2.28–32 in vv. 17–21 .

34–35 :

Ps 110.1 , like Ps 16.8–11 (v. 25), here also refers not to David but to Jesus. It was widely used in early Christian thought about Jesus (Mk 12.36; 1 Cor 15.25; Heb 1.13 ).

36 :

Made him both Lord and Messiah, apparently at the resurrection. This “adoptionist” christology appears to conflict with Luke's account of Jesus’ baptism (Lk 3.21–22); see 10.38n. Such tensions in Acts may indicate the use of sources with contrasting viewpoints.

37–41 :

The call to repentance.

37 :

Lk 3.10 .

38 :

Here the gift of the Spirit follows baptism, but there is variety elsewhere ( 8.16; 10.44; 18.26; 19.5–6 ).

39 :

Isa 57.19; Joel 2.32 . All who are far away, the universal nature of the church is clear from the beginning (cf. Lk 2.32 ).

41 :

Three thousand persons were added, illustrating the phenomenal success of Peter's speech.

2.42–47 : Life in the first Christian community.

42 :

The breaking of bread (v. 46 ) describes both a common Christian meal (e.g., 20.7,11 ) and the Lord's Supper ( 27.33–38; cf. 1 Cor 11.17–34 ).

43–47 :

Luke portrays life in the early Jerusalem community as a golden age.

43 :

By performing wonders and signs the apostles fulfill Joel's prophecy ( 2.19 ) and imitate Jesus ( 2.22 ).

44–45 :

The ideal use of possessions and money illustrates the proper response to the preaching of Jesus on this subject in the Gospel (see Lk 6.20; 12.13–21,33–34; 14.12–24,33 ). For community of goods in the Dead Sea scrolls, see 1QS 1.11–12 ; cf. Josephus, War 2.122 on the Essenes.

46 :

Members of the growing Christian group are simultaneously devout Jews who remain close to the temple.

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