|After Jesus returned
to heaven, his disciples, along with the women, continued to meet together
for worship and prayer.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)They were full of joy as they discussed the things Jesus had taught them since his resurrection and before his ascension. They spent time praying to God and praising him at the temple in Jerusalem. (Luke 24:50-53)
They were wondering what he meant by the Holy Spirit coming upon them and being given power. How could they take his words to the whole earth? There were only 120 of them who were waiting as Jesus had told them to do. (Luke 24:36-51; Acts 1:1-17)
Once again, they were in a room in the Temple, assembled on the fiftieth day* since the resurrection. As they were talking, they heard a sound much like a violent wind; they saw something like flames of fire that came to rest over each person; and they all began to speak in languages they had not learned. They realized that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on them and God had given them a power to reach people in earthly languages those people could understand.
A crowd was gathering, curious about what they were hearing. Peter began to preach. With the power to speak so that each person could understand the message of Jesus in his native tongue, Peter was able to give the Jews who were gathered there from many nations a call to repentance. As a result, about 3000 of them accepted the message about Jesus. (Acts 2:37-41) These 3000 men and women went back home and took this message with them. From that time until now and on into the future, God continues to give the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who repent and are baptized into the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
The job Jesus gave his disciples is not finished. They began in Jerusalem, but when the believers were scattered (Acts 8:1-5), they took the message about Jesus everywhere they went. God began calling people of other nationalities and races. Those who are disciples of Jesus today are expected to continue to offer this message to their own generation everywhere they live and everywhere they go.
The gift of “speaking in tongues” is the power to be able to convey the good news about Jesus in a way others can understand it. (Acts 2:8; I Corinthians 14:12-25) God’s spiritual gifts are given to strengthen, encourage, comfort and instruct others. A language that no one understands can not do that. A person may, according to Paul’s instructions, praise God in a language only God understands, but she may not use it in public unless someone else can interpret for those who do not understand it. Nothing in Acts 2 or I Corinthians 14 even implies that those speaking in a tongue do not themselves understand what they are saying. In fact Paul says, “Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.”
Some interpret I Corinthians 12:1 as proof that unintelligible language could be an angelic language. But Paul only said “If” not when. Paul is using hyperbole or extremes to make a point. Not every sign or wonder is a manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. We are warned, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1)
John goes on to say, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (I John 4:2-3) Does this mean that every person who uses the words “Jesus is the Christ” or “Jesus is Lord” is of God? Jesus, himself said, that some would come saying that he, Jesus, is the Christ, but would deceive many people. ( Matthew 24:4-5) The acknowledgement that John is talking about is one who is obedient to the will of the Father. (Matthew 7:21-23)
The Holy Spirit gives the power to be a
witness to the reality of Jesus. That power is still available today--to
men and women out of every nation and race. (Joel 2:28-32) People who have
received the Holy Spirit have the responsibility to be witnesses of the
power of God to change them from living as if there is no God into people
who trust and obey him. (Titus 3:3-8)
(from the Greek word meaning “to count fifty”)was a commanded assembly
for the people of Israel. They were to count 50 days from the morning after
the weekly Sabbath of the Days of Unleavened Bread following the Passover
to determine which day to assemble. Leviticus 23:9-16)]
For the Scripture References and
related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible
Study Guide: You Will Be My Witnesses