1. The early church in Jerusalem, 1:1-5:42

iv] The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost


Following Christ's ascension, the disciples gather each day at the Temple for prayer. On the feast of Pentecost, they experience a rather strange occurrence. They hear the sound of something like wind echoing through the Temple colonnades. They know only too well that the wind is a symbol of God's Spirit - his breath, Ezk.37:9-14. The disciples also see something like streams of fire, or light, pouring down onto each member of the fellowship. Immediately they begin praising God in a miraculous way. The commotion causes a crowd to gather, and those in the crowd hear the disciples speaking in their own native language, or dialect. All hear and understand as one, and all are amazed.


The outpouring of the Spirit serves to fulfil Jesus' promise to his disciples that they will be "clothed with power from on high" to enable them to serve as witnesses to Christ's saving work.


i] Context: See 1:1-11.


ii] Background: For extra notes on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit, and tongues, see Excursus, The Pentecostal Blessings.


iii] Structure: The coming of the Spirt at Pentecost:

Setting, v1;

The outpouring of the Spirit, v2-4;

The reaction of the crowd, v5-13:


iv] Interpretation:

The disciples have gathered in the temple for prayer and are miraculously endowed with God's presence and power, a presence in fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham, and a power to realise the promise.

For Luke, his Acts of the Apostles begins at the feast of Pentecost. The festival of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks, Lev. 23:15-21) was originally an agricultural festival held 50 days after the Passover. By this time, the focus of the festival was on the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, focusing particularly on the Covenant established between God and his people - the coming down of God to make a people for himself.

Luke doesn't draw out this theme, yet the thematic links are certainly present. God's coming down upon Mount Sinai, in the midst of his people, and his coming down upon the disciples, thematically align. The revolutionary nature of both comings also thematically align. Yet, from Luke's perspective, the event's importance lies in its fulfilment of a promise (Lk.24:49), and thus the enabling of the disciples to fulfil the mission assigned to them. None-the-less, the giving of the Spirit to the gathered disciples fulfils Pentecost's thematic purpose. They are now God's new-covenant people with the law written on their heart, commissioned and empowered to make known to broken humanity God's saving purposes in Christ.


Filled with the Spirit, v4: Luke tells us that the disciples were "filled", or washed, with the Spirit, and in response, they spoke in tongues. This giving of the Spirit is best understood as a personal coming of the Spirit of Christ to be with his people. It is a fulfilment of the expectations of Israel. The Prophets had spoken of the day when God would again visit his people and reside with them - pitch his tent with them. Pentecost is the fulfilment of this day, cf., Zech.2:10-13. In this sense it is the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus to his disciples that he would not leave them comfortless, but would return to them, John.14:15-18.

Many like to interpret this filling as a "baptism" - an empowering of the Spirit for service. Without a doubt there is power in the presence of the Spirit of God in a believers' life, a power that enables ministry. This is in line with Jesus' promise that the disciples would be "clothed with power from on high" so enabling them to serve as his "witnesses". This promise is evidenced when the disciples miraculously proclaim the "mighty works of God" to the amazed crowd. Yet, this is but a consequence of the gift of the Spirit whose presence realises what it means to to "in Christ."


Speaking in tongues: The phenomenon of "tongues" is not easily explained. Even those who were witnesses on the day of Pentecost were "amazed and perplexed." Here was a single word understood by people of different language groups in much the same sense as all those at Mount Sinai heard the law from the mouth of God. It is, in the fullest sense, a reversal of the curse of Babel. The disciples were therefore prophesying as foretold by the prophet Joel.

The form of their prophecy is ecstatic - abnormal, mysterious and not easily understood. Those who heard the disciples prophesy heard in their own languages, or at least, in their own dialects. This miracle was repeated with Cornelius, Acts 11:15, and possibly also occurred on those other significant moments when the gospel moved beyond Israel to Samaritans, to God fearers, and finally to Gentiles. It does not seem to have become standard evidence for the gift of the Spirit. The Corinthian phenomenon (ICor.12-14), although a form of ecstatic utterance, is probably not a miraculous communication event.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:1

The coming of the Spirit, v1-13; i] Setting, v1. It is the feast of Pentecost and the disciples have come together "in one place." In verse two the word oikoV, "house", is used. The word usually refers to a dwelling, but it is also used for public buildings, temples and even sanctuaries. It seems likely that the disciples are gathered in the Temple court rather than the upper room.

en tw/ + inf. "When" - [and] in the [the day of pentecost to be fulfilled]. This construction, the preposition en + the articular infinitive, is usually temporal, expressing contemporaneous time, but possibly instrumental, expressing means, or result, even causal "since it was the day of Pentecost, they were all together." Temporal is likely, "during", Moffatt; "on", CEV; although most opt for "when".

thV penthkosthV (h) gen. "of Pentecost" - of pentecost. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / of identification; "the day known as Pentecost."

sumplhrousqai (sumplhrow) pres. pas. inf. "came" - to be fulfilled. The present tense may express ongoing action (durative), "was running its course", NEB, but probably not with an infinitive; "Had come", REB. The accusative subject of the infinitive is "the day."

oJmou adv. "[all] together" - [they were all] together. Here with a spatial sense. Possibly just the apostles (there is a variant that actually reads "the apostles"), but more likely the 120.

epi + acc. "in [one place]" - upon [the same place]. Spatial idiomatic phrase. As Culy notes, the adverbial phrase "all together" and the prepositional phrase "in one place", together form the complex predicate of the imperfect verb to-be h\san, "they were."


ii] The outpouring of the Spirit, v2-4. The disciples are overwhelmed by the Spirit of God, an event which is described in the terms of a violent wind and tongues of fire. Both of these are Old Testament images of the Spirit of God, particularly of his power. cf., Ex.3:2, 19:16-19, 1Kgs.19:11-12, Matt.3:11. Luke is not so much describing an actual wind and fire, but is symbolically describing the Spirit's outpouring. None-the-less, there is nothing to hinder the Spirit's coming with such physical elements, and Luke does seem to make a point about the "sound" of their coming.

afnw adv. "suddenly" - [and a sound like rushing of violent wind became] unexpectedly, suddenly. The modal adverb serves to emphasise the miraculous; "All of a sudden", Barclay.

hcoV (oV) "a sound" - a noise, roar. Nominative subject of the verb "to become." In Luke 21:25 the noise is of a roaring sea, wind-like, vibrating, roaring.

w{sper "like" - as, like. Comparative.

feromenhV (ferw) gen. pres. part. "the blowing" - [the sound of a violent wind] rushing (expressing movement from one place to another). The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "wind"; "a mighty wind which was driving in on them", genitive in agreement with "wind." As for the genitive pnohV, "wind", it is likely adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / of production, so Culy, "like the sound produced by a strong blowing wind."

ek + gen. "from [heaven]" - from [heaven]. Expressing source / origin.

eplhrwsen (plhrow) aor. "filled" - [and] it filled. The subject is unclear, is it "sound" or "wind"? "Sound" seems best.

ton oikon (oV) "the house" - [the whole] house, room, space. Accusative direct object of the verb "to be filled." Given the general nature of the word, it is quite possible that the outpouring of the Spirit occurred somewhere in the temple precinct; "It filled the area where they were meeting."

ou| adv. "where" - where. Local adverb introducing a local clause.

nsan kaqhmenoi (kaqhmai) pres. part. "they were sitting" - they were sitting. The present participle with the imperfect verb to-be forms a periphrastic imperfect construction, possibly emphasising durative aspect.


Fire often accompanies Biblical theophanies (cf., Ex.3:2, 13:21-22, 14:24, 19:18, 24:17, .....) and here it is "distributed", RSV, to eJna eJkastoV, "each individual", present. Presumably we are to understand this event as representing the gift of / being baptised with / washed with the Holy Spirit. So, more than likely realising 1:5 where the gift of the Spirit is expressed in the terms, "will be baptised."

wfqhsan (oJraw) aor. pas. "they saw" - [and] appeared. If passive, the verb may be theological, a divine passive, God does the revealing, so "suddenly there came from heaven ..... and tongues were revealed to them", but it likely takes a middle sense, "appeared to them."

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - to them. Dative of indirect object.

diamerizomenai (diamerizw) pres. pas. part. "that separated" - [tongues] being divided, parted, distributed. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "tongues", as NIV. The glwssai, "tongues", nominative subject of the verb "to see = appear", obviously has nothing to do with speaking in tongues / language, rather, the word is used here to describe a particular shape; the disciples saw something like fire that was distributed in the shape of tongues, so Barrett.

wJsei "what seemed to be" - as, like. Comparative.

puroV (ur uroV) gen. "of fire" - tongues of fire. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting an assumed "tongues"; "like fiery tongues", Culy.

ekaqisen (kaqizw) aor. "[and] came to rest" - [and] it sat [upon each one]. A flickering flame over the head of an important person was a common image of the time. The Spirit came on each one of them; they all received the gift just as all were forgiven. The Spirit is for all believers, just as forgiveness is for all believers.

autwn gen. pro. "of them" - of them. The genitive is adjectival, partitive. "And (it) settled on each one of them", Phillips.


There does seem to be a distinction between baptised with the Spirit and filled with the Spirit, although it shouldn't be pressed, given that sometimes the terms mean much the same. None-the-less, it is likely that we have two separate actions here. In v3, the disciples receive the Spirit in the washing of fire, the "the distribution of tongue-like fire." They are no longer orphans. As promised, Jesus returns to them; the Spirit of Christ / the Holy Spirit immerses them with his presence. With the promised blessing of the covenant now realised in them, Luke goes on to tell us how the Spirit is released through them / fills them, such that they begin to prophecy. Being "filled with the Spirit" in Acts is often associated with ministry, particularly speaking, and that's certainly what happens here, cf., 4:8, 31, 13:9.

pneumatoV aJgiou gen. "with the Holy Spirit" - [and all were filled] of holy spirit. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / of content; "they were all filled full of the Holy Spirit."

lalein (lalew) pres. inf. "to speak" - [and they began] to speak. Complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the verb "to begin." "The disciples now did something they had not done before", Barrett; "They began to forcefully speak."

eJteraiV dat. adj. "in other [tongues]" - in other kinds of [languges]. Instrumental dative, expressing means. Note Isaiah 28:11, referred to by Paul in 1Cor.14:21. The translation "foreign languages" is possible, but some form of ecstatic prophecy, miraculously, or otherwise understood by the crowd, is more likely. See Excursus, The Pentecostal Blessings, Other Tongues. We are left to wonder why Luke gives us so little information about this phenomenon. "They began to forcefully prophesy ecstatically."

kaqwV "as" - as, like. Usually translated as a comparative, "just as the Spirit enabled them." Speaking under the constraint of the Spirit involves speaking "as" = in the terms directed by the Spirit. Possibly causal here, "because", "because the Spirit had granted them the power of utterance", cf., BDF 236.

edidou (didwmi) imperf. "enabled" - [the spirit] was giving. The imperfect tense is durative such that the "enabling" is ongoing. Possibly "gave each disciple the gift of tongues one after another", but unlikely. Luke does not clarify the relationship between what is obviously a once only act whereby the Spirit is given to a believer for life, and the seeming action of the Spirit, at a specific time and for a specific purpose, to "fill" (empower?) a believer for ministry.

apofqeggesqai (apofqeggomai) pres. inf. "-" - the ability to utter out aloud. As it stands, the infinitive functions as the direct object of the verb "to give", "gave utterance to them", but it could be viewed as epexegetic, specifying an assumed "the ability." The word is used of forceful speech, even inspired speech, this adds weight to the idea that tongue-speaking had language content. Of course, we are left to wonder what the difference is between the Corinthian version of tongues and the Acts version, given that the Corinthian version seems devoid of language content.

autoiV dat. pro. "them" - to them. Dative of indirect object


iii] The reaction of the crowd, v5-13. Hearing the enthusiastic utterances of the disciples, a crowd gathers. Luke tells us that they were amazed, a word often used of a pre-faith response by those who witness a messianic sign. As the crowd listens to the disciples, they hear them speaking in their own language / dialect. In v9-11 Luke lists, in circular fashion, the different lands represented in the crowd, while at the same time noting that they are either Jews, or converts to Judaism. It's as if Luke is telling us that the gospel is for all humanity, but that it derives from the children of Israel.

de "now" - but / and. Transitional, commonly used to indicate the next step in a narrative, as here.

hsan .... katoikounteV (katoikew) pres. part. "there were staying" - there were living, dwelling [into jerusalem]. The present participle with the imperfect verb to-be forms a periphrastic imperfect construction, possibly serving to emphasise durative aspect.

eulabeiV adj. "God-fearing" - [jews,] devout, reverent, godly [men]. The word is missing in some manuscripts. "Devout men" stands in apposition to "Jews". Note that Ioudaioi, "Jews", is also missing in some manuscripts. Considered by some as originally a marginal notation. "Jews" in the sense of either race or religion. Possibly Jewish pilgrims from the Roman provinces visiting Jerusalem for the festival.

apo + gen. "from" - from [all the nations]. Expressing source / origin.

twn gen. "" - the [under the heaven]. This genitive article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "under heaven" into an attributive modifier limiting "nations", "which are under heaven."


genomenhV (ginomai) aor. part. "when they heard" - [but / and, this sound] having happened, [the multitude assembled]. The genitive participle and its genitive subject, "this sound", forms a genitive absolute construction, usually treated as temporal, as NIV. The crowd heard the speaking, not the wind.

sunecuqh (sugcew) aor. pas. "in bewilderment" - [and] it was confounded, astonished, perplexed. The word describes the total shock of those hearing the tongues; "they were astonished and amazed", Barclay.

oJti "because" - that = because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the crowd came together.

ei|V e{kastoV adj. "each one" - each one of them. This distributive construction serves as the subject of the verb "to hear." The partitive genitive "of them" is assumed; "each one of them", Phillips.

hkouon (akouw) imperf. + gen. "heard" - were hearing. The imperfect is durative, commonly used for speech. This verb takes a genitive of direct object, here autwn, "them = these men"; "each one of them heard these men speaking in his own language", Phillips.

th/ idia/ dialektw/ (oV) dat. "their own language" - by/in his own dialect. The dative is adverbial, modifying the verb "heard", probably instrumental, expressing means; "by means of his own dialect." Was it different languages, different dialects, or different accents? Bruce suggests "manner of speech". The word is unclear. Was this a miracle of speech, or of hearing?

lalountwn (lalew) gen. pres. part. "being spoken" - [them] speaking. Genitive complement of the genitive direct object of the verb "to hear", standing in a double genitive construction and asserting a fact about the object, ie., they were speaking.


Bock suggests that the question posed by the crowd (a summary of the crowd's response, so Marshall) is pejorative; "how is it that all these uneducated Galileans are using all these languages?" Note how Luke emphasises the emotional response of the crowd

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "[utterly amazed] they asked" - [and they were amazed and were marvelling] saying. Semi-redundant attendant circumstance participle introducing direct speech; see 1:6.

ouc "aren't" - [behold, are] not. This negation is used in a question expecting a positive reply.

oiJ lalounteV (lalew) pres. part. "[all these] who are speaking" - [all these] the ones speaking. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "all these."

Galilaioi "Galileans" - galileans? What identified them as Galileans? Some have suggested dress, but this is unlikely; more probably accent, which means it carried over into their tongue-speaking. This would support the view that there is language content to their words, and also, that the miracle is in the hearing, not the speaking.


All those present understand what the disciples are saying - Babel is overturned, the kingdom of God is at hand. "God is bringing the message of the gospel home to those who hear it", Bock.

pwV "how" - [and] how [are hearing we]. The interrogative particle serves to introduce a second question. The use of this particular interrogative adds a sense of confusion to the question.

th/ idia/ dialektw/ dat. "in [our] native language" - in/by/with the language [of us]. Moule suggests that the dative is a dative of accompaniment, "with", whereas Culy opts for an instrumental dative, expressing means, "by".

en + dat. "-" - in [which we were born]. Possibly local, expressing sphere, or reference / respect, "with respect to ....". The whole clause is idiomatic and takes the sense "in his own native tongue", Moffatt.


The list of countries and races probably reflects common lists of the time which served to identify the extent of the Jewish dispersion, while at the same time reflecting Biblical lists, eg., Gen.10:2-23.

oiJ katoikounteV (katoikew) pres. part. "residents of [Mesopotamia]" - [parthians and medes and elamites and] the ones dwelling in [mesopotamia]. The participle serves as a substantive, and as with all those listed, stand in apposition to the nominative subject of the verb "to hear", "we hear them speaking .....", v1l.

te. "and" - both [judea and cappadocia, pontus and asia]. Along with kai, serving to introduce a series of correlative constructions. Sometimes te kai is used to express a closer connection.


thV LibuhV (h) gen. "[the parts] of Libya" - [both phrygia and pamphylia, egypt and the parts = regions] of libya. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

thV "-" - the [according to cyrene]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase, "according to Cyrene", into an attributive modifier limiting "Libya", genitive in agreement with "Libya"; "parts of Libya which are adjacent to Cyrene."

kata + acc. "near [Cyrene]" - against, beside. Here with a spatial sense.

oiJ epidhmounteV (epidhmew) pres. part. "visitors from [Rome]" - [and] the ones sojourning in, visiting [rome]. The participle serves as a substantive. "Roman citizens", Barrett.


Barrett argues that the presence of the participle "speaking" indicates that the miracle is one of speech (v4 supports this view), rather than hearing, although referencing their "speaking" only states the obvious. Whatever is happening, the crowd understands that the disciples "are declaring with praise the new redemption that God has wrought for his people", Barrett.

Ioudaioi (oV) "Jews [and converts to Judaism]" - [both] jews [and proselytes, cretans and arabs]. The inclusion in the list of "Jews" is unexpected; it is generally felt to be an early attempt to sort out a textual problem. Barrett suggests that the clause is in apposition to "Roman citizens" and was intended to mean "temporarily resident in Jerusalem."

lalountwn (lalew) gen. pres. part. "declaring" - [we hear them] speaking. The participle serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "them" of the verb akouomen, "we hear", which often, as here, takes a genitive of direct object (a kind of ablative of source, "we hear from them"), standing in a double genitive construction and asserting a fact about the object.

taiV hJmeteraiV glwssaiV dat. "in our own tongues" - by/in our tongues, languages. Again, the dative is adverbial, possibly instrumental, expressing means, "by means of", so Culy, or expressing association, "in company with", so Moule, or modal, expressing manner of the delivery, so Kellum, "with our languages."

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the wonders] of God" - [the mighty acts] of god. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, subjective, "the mighty deeds that God has done", Culy. Again, emphasising the language content of the hearing / speaking. The "mighty acts" are undefined, but given the context, they surely concern God's work of redemption recently completed in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.


Again, Luke stresses the emotional state of the crowd.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "they asked" - [but/and all were amazed and perplexed, bewildered] saying [another to another = to one another]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verbs "were amazed" and "were perplexed", while serving to introduce direct speech; "they were all amazed and perplexed and said to one another ......." For an adverbial classification see legonteV, 1:6 possibly consecutive, expressing result, "and so said to one another."

tiv "what" - what [can this wish to be]. Interrogative pronoun. The form of the question is idiomatic, with the infinitive being complementary, completing the sense of the verb qelw. The infinitive verb to-be here "bears the same sense as "mean" owing to the lack of a Semitic equivalent", Zerwick. "What on earth can this mean", Phillips.


Luke often recounts both a positive and negative response to gospel proclamation. So, some present mock the disciples, concluding that their words are nothing more than drunken gibberish. This may well indicate that, although the "tongues" of the disciples possessed language content, clarity is lacking. Peter cuts through the confusion by addressing the crowd and explaining what's going on. His sermon serves as the first clarion call of the gospel in the new age of the kingdom.

e{teroi adj. "some" - [but/and] others. In v12 we are told panteV, "all", were amazed and perplexed, but here "some" make fun of the situation. Barrett says it is "careless writing", while Culy argues that the "all" is hyperbole. The point is clear enough; the behaviour of the disciples mystifies the crowd, some of whom go on to make fun of them.

diacleuazonteV (diacleuazw) pres. part. "made fun of them" - ridiculing, mocking, jeering. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said", as NIV, "made fun of them and said", although Wallace classifies it as adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "some others sneered", Moffatt.

oJti "-" - [were saying] that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of direct speech, expressing what "they were saying."

memestwmenoi eisin "they have had too much" - they have been filled. The perfect participle with the present verb to-be forms a periphrastic perfect construction, possibly expressing their complete state of fullness. It is interesting that on one side people understood the prophetic nature of the "tongues", while on the other, there were people who put it down to intoxication - slurring of speech, mumbling? "They are drunk", CEV.

gleukouV (oV) "wine" - of new wine. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / of content; "filled full of wine." The word can be used of partly fermented "new wine", but here more likely wine preserved with honey, "sweet wine", Bruce.


Acts Introduction


Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]