Pentecost: There Is No “I” in “Church” (Acts 2:42-47)

Acts 2:42-47

In this passage, we have the first description of what the Church looks like after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Keep in mind as we think about this passage that Luke has just told us that the believers number 3000. Those 3000 people make up the “they” in this section.

The first thing Luke tells us is that they were dedicated to four things: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer. Many times when we hear those things, we think of them being done in the church building on Sunday morning. And that is certainly part of it. But Luke doesn’t limit it to those things happening in the Temple, does he? These are things that the Church is to be dedicated to, not only when they are together in a formal worship setting, but always.

We also learn that they are meeting every day in the Temple courts as well as meeting together in homes and eating together. Wow. Every day, really? We have to keep in mind that in many ways these people are just like us. They have jobs. They have family members to attend to. Yet they made time to meet daily in the Temple courts, and they made time to eat together. I don’t know about you but that’s a challenge for me.

Right in the middle of these two sections are two verses that are terribly challenging to us today. Verses 44 & 45 say, “All the believers were together and held everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” Wait, what? Is Luke teaching Socialism or Communism here? Continue reading

Pentecost: Peter’s Sermon, or The Story The Bible Tells (Acts 2:14-41)

Acts 2:14-41

There are a couple important things happening here in Peter’s sermon, which is arguably the first Christian sermon ever (at least recorded). First, Peter is telling the story of Jesus, but he is telling the story of Jesus as the conclusion or climax to the Story of Israel. Peter uses both the prophet Joel as well as the writings of David to talk about Jesus. Peter even goes so far as to quote the prophet Joel in verse 21 in a way that takes the Name of God, Yahweh, which was given to Moses at the Burning Bush, and uses it in reference to Jesus.

We can look at this in one of two ways. One way is to say something like Continue reading

Pentecost: The Tower of Babel and the Glory of God (Acts 2:5-13)

Acts 2:5-13

The story of Pentecost is partly a story about languages. As we read and think about this story, we cannot help but think that Jews would be reminded of another story—that of the Tower of Babel. In that story, found in Genesis 11:1-9, a group of people get together to build a tower that reaches into the sky, in order to bring glory to themselves and make themselves famous. In response, God gives them different languages and scatters them, so that they cannot plan together to bring glory to themselves and make themselves famous.

The story we are focusing on now is, in a sense, the flip side of the coin—the answer to the Tower of Babel. Continue reading

Pentecost: The Jewish Feast and the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4)

Acts 2:1-4

The first question that comes to mind when we read this passage is, “Why were they all together in one place?” Sure, before his ascension, Jesus had told them to go wait in Jerusalem, but this takes place a few weeks after that. It’s probably true that they weren’t all together all the time. So why were they all together now?

Because they were celebrating the Jewish feast of Pentecost. So the next logical question is, “What does Pentecost celebrate?” Pentecost celebrates when God gave his Law to Moses. It is during this celebration that those present receive the Holy Spirit. What is the connection between the Jewish feast and the reception of the Holy Spirit? One cannot help but think of Continue reading