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What the Bible says about Pentecost, Day of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Acts 2:38-42

About 3,000 people responded to Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost. They listened intently, and due to God's inspiration of Peter's message, drawn entirely from the Old Testament, linking Jesus personally to the events mentioned in the sermon, they responded. They were, in a way, reliving prophesied events that were vitally important as a foundation for their times and most especially, for their nation's future and ours.

However, the newest converts were still not as spiritually well-prepared as the apostles, not having had the advantage of the close companionship the apostles had had with Jesus during the three-and-a-half years of day-and-night experience with Him. Nonetheless, despite the intensity of the activity on the Day of Pentecost and the rising persecution of the church by the Jews that followed, each person called into the church received the Father's careful scrutiny. He was not calling them to failure. Their calling was not a wild scramble to see who might grab the fabled brass ring. From God's point of view, everything is done in love and given due deliberation, so He therefore does everything judiciously.

The apostles moved rapidly to organize the people into local congregations so the called would have as much contact with them as possible. They wanted to ensure that, through Sabbath sermons and Bible studies, they could teach God's way most efficiently. Jesus essentially followed this procedure, and the apostles imitated Him.

What subjects dominated this early teaching? Since the apostles alone were truly close to Jesus, they likely began—as Peter did in his Pentecost sermon—with His personal fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, adding that He was their Creator as well as their Savior and King. Even as a human being, Christ was literally God in the flesh, and though He was now at the right hand of the Father in heaven, by faith they were to answer to Him and give Him their loyalty. It makes sense that this would be among the first thoroughly covered teachings to firmly establish His importance to their salvation and the outworking of God's purpose.

They would also pass on to them what they had witnessed of how He conducted Himself during the time they were with Him. Like us, they would have desired to know about His personal characteristics, including His way of dealing with the apostles as well as with the ordinary “man on the street” regardless of the reasons and attitudes of those who came into His presence.

They surely must have studied into the fact that He was the God of the Old Testament, the LORD, the One who personally entered into the covenant with Abraham, the human father of Israel. He was the One who dealt with Moses and the Israelites in Egypt and at Mount Sinai, making the Old Covenant with the descendants of Abraham. This teaching would naturally lead to studies about the gospel of the Kingdom of God and the ongoing creative labors of the Father and Son, who are making sons and daughters in Their image.

This study would lead to a major area of life-changing instruction. Following the coverts' baptisms, each of them, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, became a vital part of the spiritual Body of Christ. They would need to know their behavioral responsibilities as sons or daughters of God.

Most of the early converts were not being called to duty on the front lines, that is, to preach the gospel to large crowds as the apostles did. God was calling them to support the apostles by continuing their personal growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and by making a witness through their conduct in their communities. Thus, the apostles would have addressed Christian behavior early. Their personal witnesses were important to the ongoing process God directed through Jesus Christ, though on a narrower scale than that of the apostles.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Four)

Acts 15:1-5

From the Day of Pentecost in AD 31 to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70, cultural tensions built steadily within Judea as the church continued to grow in numbers. This period included the significant conversion of Saul of Tarsus by Jesus Christ while Saul journeyed to Damascus (Acts 9). Though many brethren feared him at first, perhaps not trusting that his conversion was sincere, he became one of God's most effective instruments in all of church history for producing unity of doctrine. He played a vital role in helping the church to decide how to address the major doctrinal disagreement reported in Acts 15.

This issue was of such importance to church doctrine and unity that it was decided by the apostolic leadership in Jerusalem. Peter and James, Jesus' flesh-and-blood brother, convened a major conference to bring the two sides together to discuss the matter and reach a decision. Paul and Barnabas were also present because they represented one side of the issue, and many other elders were present, presenting arguments for one side or the other.

Central to the issue was whether non-Israelite converts to Jesus' way of life should undergo circumcision. However, the issue involved more than mere circumcision, despite one side insisting that such a new convert did not qualify for salvation without it. The issue ultimately involved all the ceremonial aspects of the Old Covenant religion given by God through Moses, including such things as the place of the Temple, sacrifices, and the priesthood under the New Covenant. This point was critical to the conference because Jesus made abundantly clear that not even one jot or tittle would pass from the law until all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).

Several years before, this issue had been broached in an incident in which Jesus gave an ever-so-brief preview that some changes in the worship of God were in order (John 4:6-26). Jesus had journeyed into Samaria and engaged in a conversation about worship with a woman of Sychar at what the locals called “Jacob's Well.” Jesus actively engaged in the conversation by asking her to give Him a drink from the well, a significant deviation from normal Jewish practice. The woman obliged Him but questioned His speaking openly with a Gentile woman.

Their conversation eventually led to proper worship, and from Jesus' answers, the woman perceived that He was a prophet. Recall that circumcision, required since Abraham, was an act of worship required by God.

In His conversation with the woman (John 4:20-26), Jesus clearly signals that some activities involved in the worship of God would change despite having been required practice since at least the time of the building of the Temple by Solomon, a period of about a thousand years. Also within the context is Jesus' hint that the nature of worship would be changing from rote public ceremonies to more heartfelt devotion and personal interaction with God.

The general term “worship” is first and foremost a verb, an action. Worship is motivated by a desire to honor another. In the Bible, this action is almost always directed toward God, though it is directed at times toward others, even fellow humans and false gods. When worshipping the true God, the worshipper is often described as bowing down, in a posture of listening for instruction and ready to obey, or kneeling, all picturing submission to someone of greater authority and seeking to please him. In an overall sense, then, worship portrays submissive service to another of greater power or dignity.

In Jesus' statement to the Samaritan woman, He describes the Father as a Spirit, saying that those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. His statement qualifies true worship as being on a higher, purer level than virtually everyone at the time was accustomed to giving. The fact that “Spirit” is first capitalized, identifying a divine Being to be worshipped, and the next time uncapitalized and coupled with “truth” indicates Jesus is signaling a positive change in approach to worship.

Thus, a link exists between the change signaled by Jesus in John 4:23-24 and the higher, different standard the church council enacted in Acts 15 regarding circumcision and baptism.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Four)

Ephesians 1:13-14

Jesus and His Father give us a guarantee of His promise to marry us. On the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2), fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, God sent a "deposit," the "earnest" of the Holy Spirit—the guarantee of the full payment to come later, when we are changed from flesh to spirit. There may be more here than some realize.

The Greek word for "earnest" is arrabon. When taken in the context of our understanding of a glorious wedding coming, it is a word packed with meaning. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words comments:

Originally, "earnest-money" deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed, [arrabon] was probably a Phoenician word, introduced into Greece. In general usage it came to denote "a pledge" or "earnest" of any sort; in the NT it is used only of that which is assured by God to believers; it is said of the Holy Spirit as the divine "pledge" of all their future blessedness, . . . particularly of their eternal inheritance.

Then comes this final sentence: "In modern Greek arrabona is an 'engagement ring.'" Of course! It makes so much sense. When Jesus asks us to drink of His cup—and we do—He follows by giving us a sign of His pledge: a kind of engagement ring, an earnest of His Holy Spirit! All this happened on the likely anniversary of God's proposal to Israel, the Day of Pentecost, about the time Boaz and Ruth pledged their troth.

Staff
Will You Marry Me? (Part Two)


 




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