Arrival of the Spirit

The Book of Acts lays stress on the theme of fulfillment. Things foreshadowed in the Hebrew Scriptures were actualized when all members of the young Assembly were “filled with the Spirit and spoke in other tongues” on the Day of Pentecost. This was the seminal event that marked the inauguration of the Church, the Age of the Spirit, and the commencement of the Final Harvest.

With the outpouring of the Spirit, what Jesus commanded his disciples to do came to fruition - “Tarry in Jerusalem until you receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, then you will be my witnesses… to the uttermost part of the Earth” - (Acts 2:1-4).

Desert Rain - Photo by Scott Ogle on Unsplash
[Photo by Scott Ogle on Unsplash]

The proclamation of the Gospel started in Jerusalem, and
Acts concludes with Paul proclaiming the “Kingdom of God” to Jews and Gentiles alike near the city of Rome in the heart of the World Empire.

The Messiah of Israel had become the Lord of all the Earth, and therefore, he exercised his Messianic authority over the nations by sending his “Good News” across the planet through his Spirit-filled Assembly - (Psalm 2:6-9, Matthew 28:18-20, Revelation 1:4-6).

In Israel, the Feast of Pentecost celebrated the completion of the barley harvest, which occurred fifty days after Passover, hence the Greek name ‘pentekosté.’ It was known also as the “Feast of Weeks,” and the “Feast of Harvest, the first fruits of your labors” - (Leviticus 23:11-16, Deuteronomy 16:9-10).

The Greek noun rendered “Pentecost” means “fiftieth.” The highlight of the Feast was the offering of the first sheaf in the Temple, the “first fruits” of the coming harvest.  Every able male was required to appear in the Temple during the Feast - (Exodus 34:22-23).

On this occasion, the entire congregation of 120 disciples was assembled “in one accord.” ‘120’ is a multiple of twelve (12 x 10), the number of the twelve tribes of Israel, and this number is not coincidental. Just as the apostles elected a new twelfth member to complete their number, Matthias, so likewise on Pentecost, the entirety of the new covenant community was gathered in anticipation of the Spirit’s arrival – (Acts 1:15-26).

The granting of the Spirit on that day was theologically significant. This is indicated using the Greek term sumpléroō in the passage, which here is rendered as “fully come” in several English translations. The sense is of something that is being “filled up completely” - to fill something to the very brim.

What the Levitical feast symbolized came to fruition as the Age of the Spirit dawned. On Pentecost, God gave the “first fruits” of the End-Time Harvest that was foreshadowed in the ancient ritual, namely, the Gift of the Holy Spirit - (Romans 8:23, Luke 24:49).


Those present heard “a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind.” The event was described with two analogies - “like a wind” and “tongues like fire.” At the end of his sermon, Peter described how the newly exalted Jesus had “poured this forth, which you see and hear - The arrival of the Spirit was confirmed by audible and visible signs – (Acts 2:33).

The tongues like fire were “parting asunder.” This translation represents the Greek verb diamerizô, meaning, “to cleave asunder; cut in pieces.” The idea is that “tongues of fire” appeared to be separating from a single flame and then distributed to each of the 120 disciples.

The significance of the “tongues of fire” is not readily apparent, and Peter made no reference to them in his sermon. Likewise, the crowd reacted to hearing the disciples “speaking in tongues,” but nothing is said in the passage about the crowd seeing the “tongues of fire” or hearing the wind-like sound (“They were confounded because every man heard them speaking in his own language”).

The “tongues of fire” is related to the declaration of John the Baptist that the Messiah would “baptize in the Spirit and FIRE.” His statement is quoted at the start of Acts when Jesus commanded the disciples to “wait in Jerusalem” - (Luke 3:16-17).

In the Greek text of the passage in Luke, both terms, “Holy Spirit” and “fire,” are modified by a single preposition, en or “in.” The sense is NOTin Spirit or in fire,” as if there are two distinct baptisms, but “in-spirit-AND-fire.”

The clause presents two sides of the same coin. Precisely what is meant by “fire” is not clear, though, in the context of Luke, it must include an element of judgment (i.e., “The chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire”). Every man would experience this Messianic “baptism”; for some, a baptism of the Spirit, but for others, a baptism of fire.

The 120 disciples “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Unfortunately, the Book provides only a few details about this phenomenon. The disciples did not speak languages they knew already, for this was a supernatural occurrence, and they did not speak gibberish.

The crowd was composed of pilgrims from many different nations, and they understood their words (“Because that every man heard them speaking in his own language… And how hear we every man in our own language wherein we were born?”).

This is the only instance in the New Testament where “speaking in tongues” is identified as a known human language.  Elsewhere, the Gift is described as speaking in “unknown” tongues or the “tongues of angels” – (1 Corinthians 13:1, 14:1-9).

Green fields - Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash
[Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash]

There is a distinct
experiential aspect to this event. The Book of Acts does not just present a theological proposition about the Gift of the Spirit, but it also describes what the disciples experienced, and what the crowd of pilgrims observed. The event included visual and audible phenomena that caused confusion among the Jews who observed it.

The outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was a life-changing and epochal event. It was nothing less than the arrival of the long-promised Gift of the Spirit, the commencement of the “Last Days,” and the launch of the Final Harvest.

  • The Age of the Spirit - (The Gift of the Spirit is part of the New Covenant, and the first fruits of the New Creation and the gathering of the nations)
  • The Spirit of Life - (The Spirit of God imparts life, especially the everlasting life of which the Gift of the Spirit is the foretaste and guarantee)
  • The Life-Giving Spirit - (Jesus dispenses the Life-Giving Spirit without which there is no enduring life. His words are spirit, and they are life)



Ekklésia - Assembly of God

Going on to Perfection