The Miracle on Pentecost
There are some misunderstandings about the miracle that occurred on the day of Pentecost when the apostles were given the ability to speak in tongues. Here’s what it says in Acts 2, verses 1 thru 4; “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven, a noise like a violent rushing of wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit, and began speaking with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”
The first misunderstanding has to do with WHO was filled with the Holy Spirit that day. Many people of the Pentecostal faith believe that there were about 120 people, who were given the ability to speak in tongues. And this belief goes back to verse 15, of chapter 1. It says in that verse; “And at this time, Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons were together) and he said..”
Who were these 120 people that were gathered together? Well, the scripture names several of them, in verse 13; “Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Mathew, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the zealot, and Judas of the family of James.” Verse 14 says; “These, all with one mind, were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” All totaled, there were about 120 people.
I’ve had people of the Pentecostal faith specifically tell me that they believe all of those people were together on the day of Pentecost, and they were all given the ability to speak in tongues.
It constantly amazes me though, how we all have the same scriptures, but yet so many people have such different interpretations. And the problem lies with HOW we interpret the scriptures. Most people interpret the scriptures in whatever way is necessary, so as to make them agree with their current belief. In other words, if you already believe that God gives all faithful people the ability to speak in tongues, as a means of worshipping God, then you’ll “overlook” what the verses actually say, and you’ll read into the scriptures whatever you want them to say.
Here’s what the bible actually says. In verse 15, it says that Peter stood up in the midst of all these people who were gathered together. And Peter said in verses 16 & 17; “Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us, and received his portion in this ministry.”
Verse 20 says; “For it is written in the book of Psalms; “Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no man dwell in it. And his office, let another man take.” So then according to the scriptures, another man had to replace Judas as one of the twelve apostles.
Now I’ll read verses 21 thru 25; “It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning with the baptism of John, until the day when He was taken up from us, one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection. And they put forward two men, Joseph, called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said; Thou Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen, to occupy this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
Those were the qualifications that a man had to meet, to be considered as an apostle. There’s people today that claim to be apostles, aren’t there? Do you think that they accompanied the rest of the apostles while Jesus was with them? And do you think they witnessed the resurrection of Jesus? I don’t think so. Jesus said in Revelation 2, verse 2, that there were men in Ephesus who claimed to be apostles back then, but they were not! But can you believe the audacity of someone today, claiming to be an apostle?
So, Peter and the other apostles suggested two men, as possible replacements for Judas. Did you notice though, that neither Matthias nor Joseph was mentioned by name as being with the 120 people gathered together on this occasion? The eleven apostles were there, and Jesus’ mother was there, along with some other women. And then it says; “His brothers” were there. Do you know who “His brothers” refers to? Well, it does NOT refer to His fleshly half-brothers. It doesn’t refer to direct family members. It refers to His “brethren”. In other words, it refers to other disciples, of the same faith. It refers to “His brethren”. And both Matthias and Joseph were among those brethren. So then, even though they weren’t previously mentioned by name, they were present there with the others.
Now listen to the next two verses. The last verse of chapter 1, and the first verse of chapter 2. It was kind of dumb to split the chapters right there, because it was right in the middle of one continuous thought. But here’s what it says; “And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” Who was all together? The twelve apostles were all together.
Matthias was now considered to be one of the apostles, bringing the number to twelve once again. And when the day of Pentecost had come, all twelve were together in one place. Isn’t that easy to understand? And the Holy Spirit came upon those twelve individuals, and as verse 4 says; “They were all filled with the Holy spirit, and began to speak with other tongues (other languages) as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”
And to even further show that it was only the twelve apostles that were speaking in other languages, it says in verse 14; “And Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared..” It was Peter and the other eleven apostles, who were speaking languages that they never knew.
However, if you have been taught that all believers are given miraculous gifts, such as the ability to speak in tongues, then you can probably see how a person can “overlook” what the scriptures actually say about this event, and interpret it to mean that all of the 120 people that were gathered together when Matthias was chosen to be an apostle, were given the ability to speak in tongues.
People have the tendency of “overlooking” a lot of verses of scripture when they attempt to interpret the bible. For example; Jesus said in Acts 1:8; “But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Who was Jesus talking to there? Who was going to receive power from the Holy Spirit? And who was going to be His witnesses?
The answer is; The apostles. It says in Acts 1, verse 2; “..After He had, by the Holy Spirit, given orders to the apostles, whom He had chosen.” And then it says in verse 4; “And gathering them together, (the apostles) He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father.”
Remember what Jesus said in John 14:26.. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Who was Jesus talking to? He was talking to His apostles on the night that they were together for the Passover meal. Jesus wasn’t promising us that the Holy Spirit would directly teach everyone, for all times. The Holy spirit isn’t going to bring to OUR remembrance, everything that Jesus said.
We have the bible to “teach us all things”. And we have the bible to help us remember what Jesus said. In a manner of speaking, the Holy Spirit teaches us all things, but He does it through the written word of the bible. But the apostles didn’t have the bible. They were taught directly by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God put the teachings directly into their minds, and put the words directly into their mouths.
And that’s exactly why, on the day of Pentecost, they “began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” Because God put those words into their mouths. And why did God do that? Why did God, through His Spirit, give the apostles the ability to speak in languages that they had never learned? It was a miracle wasn’t it? And a miracle is a “sign from God”, an “indication” of something.
And the indication here is obvious. These men who were speaking in languages that they never learned, were speaking from God! And they weren’t just talking nonsense. Verse 11 says; “..they were speaking of the mighty deeds of God!” And they were speaking in languages that were known to the various people who had assembled in Jerusalem, to worship God during the observance of Pentecost. Verse 5 says; “Now there were Jews dwelling in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven.” And those men said in verse 8; “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?”
And to answer their question about how this could be, Peter stood up and said in verses 16 & 17; “But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel..” And Peter quotes here from Joel 2:28 thru 32.. “And it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
Now, let me just stop for a minute here, and point out that what these people were seeing that day, was just the BEGINNING of the fulfillment of that prophesy by Joel. They were seeing God’s Spirit being poured out upon the apostles, giving them the ability to speak in other languages.
But listen to the rest of Joel’s prophesy, that Peter is quoting, and especially to the very end, where the prophesy is tied to salvation. Verses 18 thru 21; “Indeed, upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will grant wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath; Blood and fire, and vapor and smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. And it shall be that everyone who calls on the Lord shall be saved!”
All this will take place “in the last days”. And they were in the “last days” back then, and we are still in the “last days” today. Now be aware, that the words; “the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood”, are figurative expressions, and those words in the bible refer to judgment coming from God. Both salvation, and judgment, in the last days.
Think back to the purpose of the miracle of speaking in tongues. That was done as an indication that these men were speaking from God. And the reason that’s so important is because of what Peter and the rest of the apostles were about to say. They were about to tell that multitude of people, how to be completely forgiven of their sins, and how to be added to God’s congregation of the saved.
When Peter said in Acts 2, verse 38; “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins..” the people needed to know for SURE, that those words, were the words of GOD! And so just like God “proved” that Jesus was the Christ, “by raising Him from the dead”, Acts 17, verse 31, God was now “proving”, that the way to have your sins forgiven through Jesus, was to repent of your sins, and to be baptized into the death of Jesus, so that you could be raised, just like Christ was raised, “to walk in newness of life”. Romans 6, verse 4.
Now I’ve got just one more thing to mention, to show how far people will go, to try to prove something that they’ve been taught, an how they absolutely refuse to simply take the words of the bible as the truth. The Pentecostals go to great lengths, to try to prove that the promise of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, was for all believers. And so I heard it claimed, just this past week, that all those who heard the apostles speaking in tongues, had been given the miraculous gift of “interpreting tongues”. I hadn’t heard that one until last week, and I must admit, that’s about the most far-fetched belief I’ve heard so far on this subject.
That belief completely disregards the verses that we just read earlier, about how the Jews from all the surrounding countries, were hearing the apostles speak in “the languages of their birth”, as it said in verse 8. Someone was actually writing about the day of Pentecost, and he said that all those people couldn’t have understood what Peter and the rest of the apostles were saying, unless God had given them the gift of interpretation. And the bible clearly says that the reason they understood the apostles was that they were speaking in their own languages! The languages of the place of their birth! What could be more simple, or more easy to understand than that?
But that just goes to show you the lengths, that people will go to, to try to prove an anti-scriptural belief.
The word of God, PROVES, the way of salvation, IF we will simply believe what’s written! But if we refuse to believe, then that same word of God that can save us, will pronounce judgment upon us.
“The one who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has one judging him. The word that I spoke will judge him at the last day.” John 12:48.
God bless you as you believe His word.