We’re all on the journey to Pentecost together.

The disciples have been prepared by Jesus. Their time of active waiting has been marked by unity and prayer. Finally, the Spirit is poured out on the day of Pentecost and today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday!


(Acts 2:1-4) “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Remember, the disciples had already received salvation and the indwelling of the Spirit. (John 20:22) So this outpouring of the Spirit is a separate and subsequent experience. The author of Acts, Luke, tells us that there are two initial signs. The sound of rushing wind and the tongues as of fire are Old Testament symbols of theophany (a visible manifestation of God) (Compare to when God appeared on Mt Sinai Ex. 19:16-18, when God appeared to Elijah 1 Ki 19:11-12).[1] The third sign is that the believers are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in tongues.

We have the benefit of hindsight as we read Luke’s account of the day of Pentecost, but this was something new and unique for those first believers baptized in the Spirit. Let’s pick up the story in Acts 2:5.

The Reaction of the Crowd

“Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”” (Acts 2:5-13)

We must notice that the day of Pentecost was not theoretical.  The believers baptized in the Spirit experienced something. The sound of the wind was real and loud enough to draw the attention of the crowd. As the disciples begin speaking in tongues, the crowd hears them in their own languages. As Jews from all over the world are in Jerusalem for the Pentecost feast, there are a multitude of languages heard (yet somehow everyone hears clearly). The reaction of the crowd is “amazed and astonished” (v. 7) and “amazed and perplexed” (v 12). The cynics in the crowd though assume the disciples must be drunk.

Peter’s Pentecost Sermon

At this point, Peter, the acknowledged leader of the disciples, jumps up and begins to preach. It is important to note that it is the baptism of the Spirit that launches the mission of the disciples and Peter’s Pentecost sermon. Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, leads off with these words:

“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[b] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on 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 on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”  (Acts 2:14-21)

First, he addresses the misconception that the disciples are drunk. It is only 9am and because of the Feast of Pentecost, Jews would not eat or drink before 10am.[2] So the disciples are not drunk. Peter then turns to the prophet Joel and quotes from memory. This pouring out of the Spirit was promised long ago and fulfills the prophecy of Joel.[3] Peter makes 5 points via the quote from Joel 2:28-32.[4]

First, as the Spirit has been poured out it means that we are now in the last days and the Messiah (Jesus) has come.

Secondly, the Spirit is being poured out on all believers and the baptism of the Spirit is available for all believers. Men, women, young, old, rich, poor. This is a major change as in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was certainly present and active, but the Spirit filled only select leaders in Israel. The filling of the Spirit was not universal. Now, the Spirit is being poured out on all people.

Thirdly, the gift of the Spirit is prophetic. (Acts 2:18) The interpreted gift of speaking in tongues that occurred on the day of Pentecost is prophetic and thus fulfills the prophecy of Joel.

Fourthly, the gift of the Spirit is evidenced by signs (2:19) These are as we have discussed – the sound of rushing wind, tongues as of fire and prophetic speaking in tongues.

Finally, the gift of the Spirit is given in the context of blessing. (Acts 2:20-21) This has been a day of blessing. God has appeared at his temple, God has poured out his Spirit, 3000 people are saved.[5]

This has been no ordinary day (not that any day is ordinary).


Peter continues preaching and recaps Israelite history and the gospel account of Jesus. Peter has begun his mission of witnessing for Jesus. As Peter wraps up the sermon Luke again records the reaction of the crowd.

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:37-41)

Clearly the sermon had an impact. The crowd ask what they should do. Peter lays out what every person must do to follow Jesus, repent of their sins and seek the forgiveness of Jesus, then be baptized in water and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not a formula, but a promise. It is not a one time occurrence for those first believers gathered on the day of Pentecost, it is for all who follow Jesus from that day forward. Many people received Peter’s Holy Spirit inspired sermon, for about 3000 people are baptized and become followers of Jesus on the spot. The church grows from 120 to over three thousand in a day. Clearly the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is having an impact.

Conclusion and Application

  • This was an amazing day and an amazing work of God but not everyone receives it. There will always be skeptics and cynics but…
  • Prophecy and its fulfillment are real!  God will always keep his promises
  • The gift of the Holy Spirit is available for every believer today. God longs to give you his gifts and fulfill prophecy through you. Seek God for his gifts. Seek the Holy Spirit
  • Baptism in the Holy Spirit launches the witnessing mission of the disciples. Likewise, we still need the power of the Holy Spirit to launch the church on mission today

We’re all on the journey to Pentecost together. A journey from doubt to belief. From fear to faith. From failure to maturity. From human power to Spirit power. From waiting to witnessing. From empowerment to results. From beginning to now, the journey to Pentecost is about the power of the Holy Spirit and his ability to lead, energize and vitalize the church.  Let’s keep moving forward.

[1] Roger Stronstad, Acts Class Notes, Summit Pacific College

[2] Roger Stronstad, Acts Class Notes, Summit Pacific College

[3] Roger Stronstad, Acts Class Notes, Summit Pacific College

[4] Roger Stronstad, Acts Class Notes, Summit Pacific College

[5] Roger Stronstad, Acts Class Notes, Summit Pacific College

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