Daily Devotional

September 24, 2019

Daybreak: Acts 2:1-47

“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43) 

A number of years ago, I started a new job at a cabinet making factory. During the fifteen years I held that job, the management of the company continuously focused on improving the business processes to try to keep the factory profitable. One word I heard repeatedly in staff meetings was “effective.” Effectiveness was the measure of whether or not we, as employees of the firm, were able to accomplish our purpose and produce the intended outcome. Management did their best to make sure every worker was motivated, equipped, and encouraged to achieve maximum results. Effectiveness mattered!

Have you ever wished your efforts for God were more effective? Have you ever felt the need for more boldness or strength or ability to work successfully for God? The Lord has promised the gift of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire to give us the power we need.

In today’s text, we read of the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus’ followers who, after Christ’s ascension, had gathered in the Upper Room in obedience to His instruction for them to “wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). After the baptism of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon their waiting hearts, Peter addressed the crowd that had gathered when news of what happened was “noised abroad.” The effectiveness of Peter’s message is evidenced by the fact that at the close of his sermon, “the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (verse 41). That effect was not because of Peter’s oratorical skills, but because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Our focus verse tells us that subsequently, “many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” The Holy Spirit truly had filled those early believers with power from on high, and their witness had an impact on those around them!

Jesus still wants His followers to be effective as they work to fulfil the Great Commission. Strength, ability, and natural talent will only take us so far. We need God’s power on our lives in order to most effectively accomplish what He has called us to do. That is why the baptism of the Holy Ghost has been made available to us, as it was to the disciples of old.

The Spirit of God is the Spirit of might, of power and strength, of vigor, courage, and holy boldness — not confidence in ourselves, but in God. The Spirit gives us grace to face dangers or trials without wavering, and to speak with clarity, liberty, and convincing power.

May God put a desire in each of our hearts for the power of the Holy Spirit, that we might accomplish the work of God on earth most effectively. The promise that the Spirit would come to “all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” includes us! As we offer our lives to God with a sincere desire to be our best for Him, He will hear and answer.

Background

This chapter of Acts can be divided into three sections: the empowerment of the disciples who had tarried in the Upper Room after Jesus’ ascension (verses 1-13); Peter’s sermon to the onlookers in Jerusalem (verses 14-36); and the effects of Peter’s sermon and the beginnings of the Early Church (verses 37-47).

Pentecost, the Greek word for “fifty,” was the Jewish holiday traditionally celebrated fifty days after Passover; it was also called the “Feast of Weeks” and the “Feast of Harvests.”

The phrase translated “with one accord” (verse 1) is from the Greek word homothymadon and indicates unanimous likemindedness. For ten days, the hundred and twenty brethren had obeyed Christ’s final instruction, spending their time in prayer, supplication, and patient waiting in harmonious expectancy. Then the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place.

The coming of the Spirit was accompanied by two manifestations: the sound of “a rushing mighty wind” (verse 2) and the appearance of “cloven tongues like as of fire” (verse 3). John the Baptist had foretold One who would baptize “with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (see Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16), and these two physical evidences were a graphic portrayal of the coming of the Spirit.

The evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost was that those who had been filled began to speak in “other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (verse 4). The Greek word translated “tongue” is dialektos, which means “language” or “dialect.” We know that these “other tongues” were known languages, because Jewish individuals from faraway countries who were in Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost understood what was being spoken. They were amazed to hear their languages spoken by men who had never learned them. The fact that the speakers were Galileans (verse 7) made this evidence even more remarkable to the hearers, for the Galileans typically were looked down on as being unlearned and culturally inferior, and their speech was very heavily accented.

Verse 4 references both the Holy Ghost and the Spirit. The terms “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” are interchangeable in Scripture; the same Greek word is used for both in the original texts. The Holy Ghost is not an abstract entity or a remote influence, but is a distinct personality of the Godhead. He is God himself, part of the Trinity that is comprised of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He has personality and all the attributes of Deity. Although the baptism of the Holy Spirit was typified in the Old Testament and promised by Old Testament prophets, it was not until the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Ghost was poured out upon believers.

Peter, the disciple who had been so fearful that he denied his Lord prior to Jesus’ death, was divinely chosen to be the person who spoke to the gathered crowd. His confidence came from the Holy Spirit, and his message explained what had just taken place to individuals from multiple locations: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya near Cyrene, strangers of Rome, and Cretes and Arabians were all identified. The timing of the Spirit’s outpouring while these diaspora Jews were still in Jerusalem for the festival made it possible for the Gospel message to be spread in multiple directions when these individuals returned to their homes.

In his sermon, Peter drew attention to “that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (verse 16), referring to Joel 2:28-29. In verse 22, he pointed the men of Israel to Jesus of Nazareth, whose Messiahship was “approved of God” (attested to) by certain evidences: “miracles” (from dynamesi, emphasizing His power), “wonders” (from terasi, meaning “a marvel” and relating to the effect produced), and “signs” (from semeiois, meaning “a mark or indication,” which demonstrated the reality of His divine appointment). In verse 24, Peter made a public proclamation of Christ’s resurrection — a fact that could be confirmed by many witnesses in Jerusalem. In verses 25-28, Peter quoted from Psalm 16:8-11, prophetic words written by David and fulfilled by Jesus.

Verses 37-40 recount the phenomenal effect of Peter’s preaching — his listeners were “pricked in their heart,” meaning they were convicted by the Holy Spirit through his powerful message. As a result, about three thousand were added to the small group of believers who had just received the infilling of the Spirit that day.

The verb tense in the original Greek of the phrase “had all things in common” (verse 44) signified continuous or repeated action, and could be rendered, “having all things common.” These contributions were not required; the believers simply had been and continued putting their possessions at the disposal of the church. The implication is that when needs arose within the community of believers, different ones of the group would sell property or give funds to meet the need. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

II.    The witness in Jerusalem
    A.    The witness at Pentecost (2:1-47)
        1.    The power of Pentecost (2:1-13)
            a.    The filling of the Holy Spirit (2:1-4)
            b.    The results of the filling of the Holy Spirit (2:5-13)
                (1)    Amazement (2:5-12)
                (2)    Mockery (2:13)
        2.    The preaching at Pentecost (2:14-47)
            a.    The explanation of the events by Peter (2:14-36)
                (1)    From Joel (2:14-21)
                (2)    From David (2:22-36)
            b.    The result of Peter’s sermon (2:37-47)
                (1)    Conviction (2:37)
                (2)    Confession (2:38-41)
                (3)    Commencement of the church (2:42-47)

A Closer Look

  1. According to verse 15, what possible misconception did Peter immediately clear up as he began his Spirit-filled message?

  2. Why do you think that Peter referred to the prophetic words of Joel and David in his message?

  3. What attitude toward other believers was in place among those in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost? How can we ensure that same condition is in place in our lives?

Conclusion

God has provided the baptism of the Holy Ghost to empower believers and make them effective witnesses for Him.

Reference Materials