Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 2:1-4, John 14:16, Acts 2:5-13, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:22-39, Ps. 110:1-3.
Memory Text: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear” (Acts 2:32, 33, NRSV).
Pentecost” is from the word pentekoste, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks (Exod. 34:22); it is also known as the Feast of the Firstfruits (Num. 28:26). The term means “fiftieth” and owes its usage to the fact that the feast was celebrated on the fiftieth day from the offering of the barley sheaf on the first day after the Passover. It was a day of joy and thanksgiving, when the people of Israel brought before the Lord “the firstfruits of the wheat harvest” (Exod. 34:22, NIV).
The feast then became a fitting symbol for the first spiritual harvest of the Christian church, when the Holy Spirit was poured out more abundantly than ever before, and three thousand people were baptized on a single day (Acts 2:41). Following the ascension of Jesus and His exaltation in heaven, this outpouring of the Spirit was a sudden, supernatural event that transformed the apostles from simple and obscure Galileans into men of conviction and courage who would change the world.
Pentecost is often called the birthday of the church, the time that Christ’s followers, Jews and (later) Gentiles, were legitimized as God’s new community on earth.