Question: “What is the day of Pentecost?”

Question: “What is the day of Pentecost?”

“Pentecost” is significant in both the Old and the 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
) and forward to the promise of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s last words

on earth before His ascension into heaven (Acts
), Pentecost signals the beginning of the church age.

The only
reference to the actual events of Pentecost is Acts
. Pentecost is reminiscent of the Last Supper; in both instances the

disciples are together in a house for what proves to be an important event. At
the Last Supper the disciples witness the end of the Messiah’s earthly ministry
as He asks them to remember Him after His death until He returns. At Pentecost,
the disciples witness the birth of the New Testament church in the coming of the
Holy Spirit to indwell all believers. Thus the scene of the disciples in a room
at Pentecost commences with the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s work in the
church with the conclusion of Christ’s earthly ministry in the upper room before
the crucifixion.

The description of fire and wind mentioned in the
Pentecost account resounds throughout the Old and the New Testament. The wind at
Pentecost was “rushing” and “mighty,” a powerful wind that nevertheless did not
extinguish the tongues of fire. Scriptural references to the power of wind
(always understood to be under God’s control) abound. Exodus 10:13; Psalm
and Isaiah 11:15 in the Old Testament and Matthew 14:23-32 in the

New Testament are only a few examples. More significant than wind as power is
wind as life in the Old Testament (Job
) and as spirit in the New (John
). Just as the first Adam received the breath of physical life (Genesis 2:7), so the second Adam, Jesus, brings the

breath of spiritual life. The idea of spiritual life as generated by the Holy
Spirit is certainly implicit in the wind at Pentecost.

Fire is often
associated in the Old Testament with the presence of God (Exodus
; 13:21-22; 24:17; Isaiah 10:17) and with His holiness (Psalm
; 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

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
) 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 utopian community formed in which everyone’s
needs were met.

Recommended Resource: Bible Answers for Almost all Your Questions by Elmer Towns.

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