“Pentecost” is an English transliteration of the Greek name pentekosté, meaning “fiftieth.” The Greek name designated the “festival of weeks” (Exodus 34:22) and focused on the time for the observance of this festival. According to verses 15 and 16 of Leviticus 23, the Israelites, when determining the time for the festival of weeks, were to count seven “sevens” or seven weeks after the sheaf of the firstfruits of the barley harvest had been presented as a wave offering to YHWH. This means that the festival was observed on the 50th day from the 16th of Nisan (mid-March to mid-April) or on the 6th day of Sivan (mid-May to mid-June). The unique offering that accompanied other sacrifices consisted of two leavened wheat loaves, the flour being from newly harvested wheat. (Leviticus 23:17-21) On the festival day, Jesus’ disciples had assembled. (2:1)
In the introductory phrase that mentions Pentecost, the Greek text contains the infinitive form of sympleróo, meaning “fill,” “fulfill,” or “complete.” In the context, many have understood the term to mean “come” or “arrive,” and this is reflected in the renderings of numerous translations (ESV, HCSB, NASB, NCV, NIV, NKJV, NJB, NRSV, REB). Others, however, have retained the basic meaning “fulfilled” (“the time for Pentecost was fulfilled” [NAB]; “the fulfilling of the day of Pentecost” [Green]; “the day of Pentecost was in process of being fulfilled” [Wuest]; “the day of pentecost was filling up the number of days” [Rotherham]; “the day of the Pentecost being fulfilled” [Young]). The meaning could be that the time for the festival observance had been fulfilled, for the required seven weeks subsequent to the wave offering of the firstfruits barley sheaf had passed. (2:1)
A number of later manuscripts limit “all” to the apostles. On the basis of verse 15 of the previous chapter, however, “all” could refer to the larger number of about 120 disciples. The Greek text does not contain a word for “place” but ends with a phrase that literally reads, “on the same.” This could mean that all were in one place or that all were in the same place as on the previous occasion when Matthias was chosen as the twelfth apostle. Another possibility is that the idiomatic phrase signifies that all of them were united in purpose. (2:1; see the Notes section.)
While the entire group was together, they heard a “noise” (échos) comparable to the blowing of a fierce tempest and perceived it as coming “from heaven” or from above. They must have felt this wind, for “it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” (2:2)
Then tongues like fire became visible, being distributed on each one of the disciples who were there. What looked like tongue-shaped flames (not actual fire) must have appeared over the head of each one of them. (2:3)
In this manner the operation of God’s spirit was manifested audibly and visibly. Filled with holy spirit, all began to express themselves in different “tongues” or languages in keeping with the capacity for such speaking that the spirit had granted them. (2:4)
At the time, Jews in addition to the city’s inhabitants were then dwelling in Jerusalem. The Jews who had come to observe the festival of weeks are referred to as “devout men from every nation of those under heaven.” It may be that Luke’s purpose in calling them “devout” or “reverential” served to indicate that those who later put faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah or Christ were God-fearing persons. They were not merely Jews in name. The expression “from every nation under heaven” signifies that those who had come to Jerusalem for the observance of the “festival of weeks” came from all parts of the then-known world and, therefore, from regions where different languages were spoken. (2:5; see the Notes section.)
When, however, they heard “this sound” (phoné), a “crowd came together and was perplexed,” for each one of them heard the disciples speaking to them in their “own language.” (2:6; see the Notes section.) They were dumbfounded and wondered, “Look! Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how [can it be that] we are hearing, each one of us, our own language in which we were born?” (2:7, 8)
The “sound” could be the noise caused by what appeared to be a strong tempest. Although the Greek word for “noise” (échos) is different, it may be a synonym for “sound” (phoné). Another possibility is that phoné refers to the sound that resulted when the disciples spoke in various languages, for the bewilderment of the multitude is attributed to their hearing their own language being spoken by Galileans. Either the sound of what seemed to be a fierce wind or the sound of the speaking in different languages prompted a crowd to form. If the reference is to the sound of the strong wind, the people, upon hearing it, may have been moved to investigate its source, leading them to locate the house where the disciples were. (2:6)
In case the sound involved the speaking in tongues, the disciples may have gone to the temple after receiving the holy spirit and then begun to speak. (2:6) Some support for this conclusion is found in Acts 4. After the chief priests and elders of the nation tried to intimidate Peter and John with threats so that they would stop speaking about Jesus and then released them, the two apostles related to fellow believers what had happened. When all those who were then assembled came to be filled with holy spirit, they “spoke the word of God with boldness,” fearlessness, or confidence. To speak with one another, they did not need boldness or fearlessness, but the kind of intimidating threats the leaders of the nation had expressed to Peter and John did require them to have courage to continue proclaiming God’s word or message, with its specific focus on Jesus Christ as the one through whom reconciliation with God had been made possible. (4:31) So, at that particular time, the disciples, after being filled with holy spirit, evidently went forth among the people and courageously made known the truth about Jesus Christ.
The aspect that “astounded” (exístemi) the multitude is that each of them heard the message being spoken in their own language even though all those doing so were Galileans. In the crowd, certain Judeans would have been the most likely ones to have been able to identify the disciples as being from Galilee. (2:6, 7; compare Matthew 26:73; Mark 14:70; Luke 22:59; see the Notes section regarding verse 7.) What proved to be particularly amazing was that the languages the individuals heard were those in which they were born. This suggests that the languages or dialects were spoken without any accent. Whereas both the Judeans and Galileans spoke the same language, there were recognizable pronunciation differences, and so it may be that the gift of tongues also made it possible for the Galilean disciples to speak just like the Judeans. This may explain why “Judea” (if original as indicated by the preponderance of manuscript evidence) is mentioned as one of the areas from which Jews were in Jerusalem. (2:8, 9)
Among those who had come to the festival were Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mespotamia, (Judea [not included in the original text of Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis)]), Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphyllia, Egypt, and districts of Libya near Cyrene (literally, “against Cyrene”), and visitors from Rome, Cretans, and Arabians. Included among them were both natural Jews and proselytes or persons who had become Jews through conversion. (2:9-11)
The various regions that are mentioned do not include all areas where Jews resided but appear to be representative of locations from which Jews and proselytes came. In being portrayed as spoken by the multitude, the words about the different areas may be understood as reflecting the expressions and thoughts of the multitude. Thousands of people obviously would not all be referring to the same locations and speaking about these places in the same order. (2:9-11)
Parthia lay southeast of the Caspian Sea and extended to the Euphrates River. Ancient Media was situated west and south of the Caspian Sea and, in the first century CE, Medes lived in Parthia. The Elamites likewise had become part of the Parthian Empire, and their ancient territory lay north of the Persian Gulf in what is today southwest Iran. Mesopotamia is primarily the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Judea lay south of Samaria and north of Idumea. Cappadocia, Pontus, the Roman province of Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia were all located in Asia Minor. Egypt was the major African country that supplied grain to Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. Many thousands of Jews lived in Alexandria, Egypt. West of Egypt, on the northern coast of Africa, lay ancient Libya. With the island of Crete to the north, Libya became part of the Roman province of Cyrenaica, with Cyrene as the capital. Arabians would have come from the Arabian Peninsula and the Syrian Desert. (2:9-11)
From all the widely scattered locations, Jews and proselytes heard the Galilean disciples speak in their own regional languages. The listeners perceived that the disciples were talking about the “great things of God.” This suggests that, at this point, the multitude had not heard about the significant role of Jesus Christ in God’s purpose. Many of the people, however, did recognize that the disciples were speaking about the magnificent things God had accomplished. (2:11) Nevertheless, the miraculous speaking in tongues prompted great astonishment and bewilderment, with many wondering just what it all might mean. (2:12; see the Notes section.)
Certain ones in the crowd began to scoff at the disciples, claiming that they were “full of new wine [gleúkos].” In this expression of mockery, the word gleúkos would not necessarily have to mean wine from newly harvested grapes. The scoffers would merely have been saying that the disciples were drunk, behaving like persons who had overindulged in drink when the new wine became available. (2:13; see the Notes section.)
The words of mockery must have been spoken loud enough or possibly even shouted so that the apostles became aware of what was being said. Then “Peter stood up with the eleven,” positioning himself so as to speak to the multitude. He “raised his voice” and began to address the people, “Men of Judea and all you who are dwelling in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and listen to my words. For these [people] are not drunk as you assume, for it is the third hour of the day.” (2:14, 15)
The ones dwelling in Jerusalem at the time included all those from other lands who had come to the city for the festival of weeks. Peter’s words were thus directed to the residents of Judea and all who lived elsewhere. He wanted them to know the actual reason for the speaking in tongues they had witnessed and to pay attention to his explanation. The assumption that the men were drunk had no basis. It was only the third hour of the day or about 9:00 a.m., and it was wholly unreasonable for anyone to think that an entire group would be drunk at that early hour of the morning. (2:14, 15)
What the multitude had witnessed, as Peter continued, was the fulfillment of the words “spoken through the prophet Joel.” He then quoted the prophecy, “‘And it will be in the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out from [that is, a portion of] my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your elders will dream dreams, and indeed, in those days, I will pour out from my spirit on my male and my female servants, and they will prophesy. And I will give portents in heaven above and signs on earth below — blood and fire and smoky vapor [literally, ‘vapor of smoke’]. The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and notable day of the Lord [YHWH, Hebrew text]. And it will be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [YHWH, Hebrew text] will be saved.’” (2:16-21; Joel 2:28-32 [3:1-5, LXX]; see the Notes section.)
Based on the reading of many manuscripts, including fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus, the reference to “the last days” appears to be original. This indicates that a new era was dawning and that another one was about to end. In fulfillment of prophecy, the promised Messiah had arrived and so the “last days” had begun. For the Israelites to whom the prophetic words of Joel were directed, the arrangement for worship as they had known it would come to an end, and a time of great distress would bring this about. (2:17)
God is in full possession and control of his spirit, and so it is “from” the spirit, or from a portion thereof, that humans become recipients. “All flesh” includes sons and daughters, young and old men, and God’s male and female servants. The promised outpouring of the spirit would become evident through prophesying. With the prominent feature of prophesying being the proclaiming of God’s message (though not excluding foretelling of future events), the speaking in tongues did, in this case, involve prophesying, for those who listened perceived the words to be about the “great things of God.” (2:11, 17, 18; see the Notes section.)
Based on what is contained in other passages in Acts (9:10-16; 10:9-17; 16:9, 10), the dreams young men would have and the visions elders would behold could include direction about carrying out their service to God and his Son, as well as revelations of God’s will and what is acceptable to him. (2:17)
Women were not excluded from having God’s spirit imparted to them and being empowered to prophesy. Both male and female servants of God would receive his spirit. Among women who prophesied later in the first century CE were the evangelist Philip’s four virgin daughters. (2:18; 21:8, 9; see the Notes section.)
On this particular day of Pentecost, a fierce tempest proved to be a portent “from heaven above.” The tongues of fire, or tongue-like flames, might also be regarded as a portent “from heaven above,” and the subsequent speaking in tongues would have been a sign “on earth below.” These portents and signs revealed significant divine activity. (2:19)
Blood is suggestive of slaughter (as in war), and the fire and smoky vapor would likewise be associated with military campaigns. Armies would set houses and other structures on fire, creating haze and smoke. Blood, fire, and smoky vapor are closely associated with the arrival of the “day of the Lord [YHWH, Hebrew text].” (2:19; see the Notes section.)
Seemingly, with reference to what would develop in the future, the people would experience a time of darkness or gloom, a time of severe judgment. The situation would then be as if all light, any bright prospects, or hope had been blotted out just as when a dark shadow passes over the sun during a solar eclipse or when the moon turns red (the color of blood) during a lunar eclipse. Such a “day” did come upon Jerusalem when the Roman armies surrounded the city and cut off all avenue of escape, finally to capture it (in 70 CE), setting dwellings on fire, and consigning the magnificent temple to the flames. (2:20; see the Notes section.)
Before the coming of that fear-inspiring day, there was one way to assure being among those to experience deliverance. According to the extant Greek text, this would be by calling “upon the name of the Lord.” Peter later stressed the role of Jesus Christ as the one whom God had made both Lord and Christ and through whom forgiveness of sin is possible. (2:36, 38) In the application of Joel’s prophecy, therefore, the calling on the name of the “Lord” could either mean turning to God through Jesus (acknowledging him as both Lord and Christ) or calling on the “name” or person of the Lord Jesus Christ as the one through whom an approved standing with God is possible, which means being saved from the consequences of divinely unforgiven sin. In relation to the coming day of judgment that befell Jerusalem, those who put faith in Jesus Christ heeded his words to get out of the city at the opportune time and thus were saved or delivered. (2:21; Matthew 24:15-19; Luke 21:20-24)
“Men, Israelites, listen to these words,” Peter is quoted as continuing. After this request for attention, he proceeded with the primary message. “Jesus the Nazarene” was revealed to be a “man from God,” the evidence being the works of power, portents, and signs which God did through him in the midst of the people. Many who listened to Peter must have known about the works of power such as freeing individuals from demon possession, and the portents and signs, including the miraculous healing of various diseases, restoring sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, making the lame whole, and raising the dead. The reference to Jesus as the Nazarene indicates that it must have been common knowledge among the people that he had come from Nazareth in Galilee. (2:22)
In keeping with God’s predetermined “counsel,” purpose, or will and his “foreknowledge” (his knowing in advance what would take place), Jesus was “delivered up.” This could either refer to his being seized by the armed mob in the garden of Gethsemane at the time Judas betrayed him or to the action of the leaders of the nation when handing him over to the Roman governor Pilate as a lawbreaker deserving of death. It was “through the hands of lawless men” (Romans who were without the guidance of the law that had been given to the Israelites) that the people, as sharers in the action of their leaders, “fastened” Jesus to the “wood” and “did away” with him. (2:23)
God “raised” or resurrected Jesus, loosing “the pangs of death.” The expression “pangs of death” or “bonds of death” is descriptive of the lifeless state to which death reduces an individual. As it were, death ties one down with restrictive bonds that make all movement impossible, and so such figurative bonds could also be designated as the pangs or pains for which death is responsible. Jesus was raised to life “because it was not possible for him to be held by it [death].” It was not God’s purpose for Jesus to remain dead and so the hold death had on him needed to be broken. (2:24)
To establish that Jesus could not continue to be held in death’s power, Peter quoted words from a psalm attributed to David, “I saw the Lord before me always, for he is at my right hand in order that I may not be shaken. Therefore, my heart rejoiced, and my tongue exulted. Furthermore, my flesh will dwell in hope because you will not abandon my soul in Hades, nor will you permit your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me ways of life. With your face, you will fill me with joy.” (2:25-28; see the Notes section.)
The psalmist’s words about his joy and confidence are expressed in terms that found their full meaning in the experiences of the one greater than David (Jesus the promised Messiah or Christ). By reason of a direct divine revelation through the prophet Nathan regarding the continuance of the royal line (2 Samuel 7:16, 17) and with God’s spirit operating upon him, David, as a prophet, used words that came to apply to Christ (the son or descendant of David), the permanent royal heir.
At all times, the psalmist had the “Lord” (YHWH, Hebrew text) before him. He saw his God as a loyal friend at his right hand, always willing to aid and guide him. This assured him that he would not totter, be shaken, or come to experience a ruinous fall. Just as the psalmist trusted God, Jesus Christ revealed his full confidence in his Father, loyally submitting to his will and persevering in prayer throughout his ministry. As God’s unique Son, Jesus was always aware of his Father’s presence as if he were standing at his right hand, continually ready to answer his prayers. (2:25; Psalm 16:8 [15:8, LXX])
David’s confidence in YHWH provided the basis for the joy of his heart, his deep inner self. Jesus Christ also had joy of heart, for he delighted to do his Father’s will. Never did he waver in completely trusting his God and Father. (2:26; Psalm 16:9 [15:9, LXX]; compare John 4:34; Hebrews 10:5-7.)
In the Masoretic Text, the expression “my tongue” is “my glory” (kavóhd, denoting something that is weighty and so functioning as a term to describe someone in possession of “glory,” “honor,” or “distinction”). For David’s “glory” to rejoice would signify that, by reason of the divinely granted dignity he possessed, he himself experienced joy. The reading of the Septuagint and the wording in Acts point to the exultation the tongue would express. Both the psalmist and Jesus Christ exulted or rejoiced when praising God. (2:26; Psalm 16:9 [15:9, LXX])
According to the Masoretic Text, the psalmist’s “flesh” resided in “security.” Confident in God’s aid, guidance, and protection, he himself as a physical organism felt secure. The Greek text of the Septuagint and Acts refers to the residing or dwelling in “hope.” Whereas the Greek verb kataskenóo can mean to “dwell” or “reside,” it incorporates the word “tent,” and the entire Greek phrase could literally be rendered, “my flesh will tent on hope,” indicating that life or life as a physical being rested on hope and possibly implying that all future life prospects had their foundation in hope. (2:26; Psalm 16:9 [15:9, LXX])
In its application to the psalmist, the words about not having his soul abandoned in or to Sheol or Hades could mean that he was confident that God would not allow him to enter the realm of the dead prematurely. According to the Hebrew text, he, as God faithful one (holy one, LXX), would not see the “pit.” The Hebrew noun sháchath is used to designate a “pit,” and the verb shacháth means “ruin,” “spoil,” “corrupt,” or “annihilate.” Evidently the Septuagint translator regarded the noun as being linked to the verb meaning “corrupt” and therefore used the Greek noun diaphthorá (corruption, destruction). Similarly, in The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, the very fragmentary Hebrew text has been reconstructed and translated to read, “Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your holy one see decay.” The wording of the Hebrew and Greek text can denote that the abandoning to or in Sheol or Hades would not be permanent, but that there would be a release. This is the thought in the application of the words to Jesus Christ. (2:27; Psalm 16:10 [15:10, LXX])
The psalmist was confident that YHWH would make known to him or teach him the “path of life” (Hebrew text) or “paths” or “ways of life” (LXX). This likely means that he looked to God to show him the course that he should follow in order to enjoy living as his devoted servant. With God’s face directed toward him, being in his presence, or having his favorable attention, the psalmist would experience complete joy. Jesus Christ knew the “ways of life,” for he had been fully grounded in his Father’s teaching. (John 7:16, 17) He always delighted to do his Father’s will, and his Father’s face or favorable attention did not turn away from him. His prayers were always heard. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; John 11:41, 42) Therefore, with God’s face directed toward him (or an ever-present awareness of his Father’s being with him and pleased with him), Jesus Christ was filled with joy. (2:28; Psalm 16:11 [15:11, LXX])
When applying the words of the psalmist to Jesus, Peter first focused the attention of the multitude (“men, brothers”) on the patriarch or ancestral head David, indicating that he could allowably speak in an open manner, or with boldness or confidence, concerning him. David died, was buried, and his tomb was known as still being with them to that day or in that time (2:29) According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities, VII, xv, 3), Herod opened one of the rooms of David’s tomb in Jerusalem.
To show that the words from the psalm he had quoted could refer to Jesus, Peter spoke of David as a prophet who “knew that God had sworn an oath to him [that] he would seat one from the fruit of his loins upon his throne.” Josephus (Antiquities, VI, viii, 2) also referred to David as a prophet, saying that he began to prophesy after the divine spirit came upon him. Therefore, those who listened to Peter would have agreed with him about David’s role as a prophet. The revelation about God’s oath that one who would be of “the fruit of his loins” (one of his descendants) would sit upon his throne (or come to have the royal authority) became known to David through the prophet Nathan. (2:30; 2 Samuel 7:16, 17; 1 Chronicles 17:13-15; Psalm 132:11, 12; see the Notes section.)
In view of what he knew beforehand as a prophet about a future descendant, David “spoke about the resurrection of Christ, that neither was he abandoned in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption.” Jesus Christ did not remain in Hades (the realm of the dead) and so was not abandoned to or in Hades. In the short time (less than three full days) in which his body of flesh lay in the tomb, it could not have decayed beyond recognition and so it did not “see” or experience corruption. (2:31)
Peter went on to explain that God resurrected Jesus. Because the risen Christ had appeared to them, Peter could identify himself and the other disciples as witnesses. (2:32) He then spoke of Jesus as having been exalted to God’s right hand. The multitude had been provided with unmistakable evidence regarding this. There had been the sound of a fierce wind from heaven, and the people heard the disciples speak in the various native languages or dialects that were represented among those who had come to Jerusalem for the festival of weeks (Pentecost). Many among them recognized that the disciples spoke about God’s impressive deeds. As Peter pointed out to them, what they had seen and heard proved that Jesus had been exalted to God’s right hand. Upon his exaltation, Jesus had received from the Father the “promise of the holy spirit.” Therefore, because his Father exalted him and granted him the authority to impart or pour out the spirit, Jesus could proceed to act. If Jesus had not ascended to heaven and been exalted, he could not have poured out the “promise of the holy spirit.” Centuries earlier, through his prophets, the Father had given the promise about this future outpouring of the spirit, and Jesus Christ had assured his disciples that they would receive the promised spirit after his departure. (2:33; Isaiah 32:15; Ezekiel 36:26, 27; Joel 2:28, 29 [3:1, 2]; John 14:15-18, 25, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-11)
Peter’s mention of Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand may well have brought to the minds of many listeners the words of Psalm 110, where YHWH is represented as saying to the one whom David called “my lord,” “Sit at my right hand.” The apostle reminded them about the expression of the psalmist, telling them that David had not “ascended to the heavens” but that he spoke the words, “The Lord [YHWH, Hebrew text] said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a stool for your feet.’” (2:34, 35; Psalm 110:1 [109:1, LXX])
Being at God’s right hand would mean being in a highly exalted, favored, and honorable position as his intimate one. God would not tolerate any opposition to the lord or king at his right hand, but would see to it that all enemies would be subdued, coming to be like a mere footstool for his appointed lord. Peter applied these words to Jesus who, unlike David, had ascended to heaven. With the evidence of the outpouring of the spirit having been provided and the consequent confirmation that Jesus had ascended to heaven, the whole “house of Israel” could know with certainty that God had made Jesus, whom they had crucified, both “Lord and Christ.” (2:36)
Responsive ones among those who heard Peter’s words were “cut to the heart,” coming to have within themselves a distressing awareness of their grave sin. They appear to have recognized their communal responsibility in having shared in the guilt of the representative leaders of the nation of Israel when they handed Jesus (the promised Messiah or Christ) over to Pilate for the purpose of having him crucified. With the burden of this guilt having been forcefully impressed on them, they asked Peter and the “rest” (loipoús, omitted in a number of manuscripts) apostles, “Men, brothers, what should we do?” A few manuscripts add, “Show us.” As fellow Jews or Israelites (descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), the questioners acknowledged Peter and the other apostles as brothers. (2:37; see the Notes section.)
“Repent,” Peter continued in response, “and be baptized each one of you in [‘on,’ according to other manuscripts] the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins.” Repentance called for them to regret their sins, including having shared in the communal responsibility for Jesus’ death, and to accept him as the promised Messiah or Christ and their Lord. Baptism in his name signified baptism in recognition of him as the Christ, the unique Son of God, and Lord. Immersion in water constituted the outward symbol of the repentance for sins and the accompanying faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, by reason of their repentance and baptism, they would be forgiven of their sins. They would then receive “the gift of the holy spirit,” just as Peter and the other disciples had. (2:38)
All repentant ones could be sure that they would receive God’s spirit. “For,” as Peter said to them, “the promise is [given] to you and and to your children and to all those [who are] far away, as many as the Lord our God may call.” Through his prophets Isaiah (32:15) Joel (2:28, 29 [3:1, 2), and Ezekiel (36:26, 27), God had promised to impart the holy spirit to his repentant people. Those who heard Peter’s words had seen and heard the evidence that the holy spirit had been given to him and the other disciples. So, from then onward, not only those listening to Peter but also their children could be recipients of the fulfillment of God’s promise. The original hearers would likely have thought of those being far away as fellow Jews and proselytes scattered throughout the world they knew and in the most distant areas thereof. In the context of the entire book of Acts, the language could embrace the non-Jewish peoples. Eventually, the message about Christ and how through him reconciliation to God is possible did reach distant lands. Through the proclamation of this message, God called or invited people everywhere to become part of his family of beloved children as persons forgiven of their sins and guided by his spirit. (2:39)
In connection with his witness or testimony concerning Jesus Christ, Peter said much more that is not recorded. He urged those who listened to him to “get saved from this twisted generation.” By reason of their rejection of Jesus as the promised Messiah or Christ, the then-existing generation of Jews or Israelites had proved to be “twisted,” “corrupt,” or “crooked.” To be saved from that generation would have meant not to be divinely counted as belonging to it and meriting condemnation for its faithless conduct. This called for responding in faith to Jesus Christ, accepting him as God’s Son and Lord. (2:40)
Those who accepted Peter’s “word” or the message he proclaimed were baptized. On that day of Pentecost, the community of believers increased by about 3,000 “souls,” both men and women (2:41; compare 5:14.)
The new believers devoted themselves “to the teaching of the apostles,” doing so when they taught publicly in the temple area or privately in homes. It would be in the homes that the apostles and other disciples “broke bread.” Their breaking of bread may mean sharing meals together. It could have included partaking of the bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus (as he had commanded his disciples to do). A number of translations interpretively render the expression about breaking bread to mean celebrating the “Lord’s Supper.” Among believers, prayer played a prominent role. (2:42; Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
The “fear” that came to be felt by “every soul” may refer to the feeling of great awe and wonderment experienced by those who witnessed the “many portents and signs” that occurred through the agency of the apostles. These portents and signs included miraculous healing of the sick and liberating afflicted ones from demon possession. (2:43; 5:14-16)
A significant number of those who became believers were not native to Jerusalem or Judea but had come from various lands to be present for the festival of weeks (Pentecost). Therefore, believers pooled their resources, making it possible for those who had come from elsewhere to stay longer than they may originally have planned. All the believers arranged to share “all things in common.” (2:44) In expression of their love for one another, they sold possessions and goods or properties and would then distribute the proceeds to fellow believers who were in need. (2:45)
As the apostles customarily taught in the temple area, believers would be found assembled there on a regular basis (“day after day”). (See http://holylandphotos.org for a model of the temple [type “second temple model” in the search box]. Also see http://bibleplaces.com/templemount.htm for pictures of the Temple Mount and accompanying comments.) Then, in homes, they would “break bread,” and their partaking of food together would be joyful occasions. Since the breaking of bread and the partaking of food may not here be represented as synonymous, the breaking of bread could relate to the observance of the “Lord’s Supper,” and the partaking of food to sharing common meals. Another possibility is that the reference is to the “Lord’s Supper” being observed as part of the common meal. Besides partaking of food with a “joyful heart,” or with great inner joy, believers did so with “simplicity of heart.” “Simplicity of heart” could denote an inner sense of contentment and appreciation. Believers would have experienced a deep, genuine joy. A number of translations interpretively represent those who shared food with other believers to have done so with joy and sincere generosity. “They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely.” (CEV) “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.” (2:46, NLT)
With prayer and thanksgiving, believers would have praised God. Probably because of observing the love and generous spirit of believers and witnessing the impressive miraculous cures that were taking place, the people generally (“all the people”) regarded the apostles and other disciples favorably. Day by day, “the Lord added those being saved.” In view of the earlier mention of praising God, “the Lord” may be understood to be the “Lord Jesus Christ,” for he is the head of the congregation. Through Christ, the spirit had been imparted, and the operation of the spirit on believers is what resulted in increase. The apostles and others were the instruments for proclaiming the message and performing the miracles, and so the adding of believers could rightly be attributed to the Lord. (2:47)
Those who were then added are referred to as persons being saved, for they would not be among those who would experience the condemnatory judgment to come. They had been forgiven of their sins and become reconciled to God as his beloved children. The concluding phrase “on the same” (epí tó autó) may mean that the adding of others was to the same fellowship as believes. A number of manuscripts indicate that those being saved were added to the congregation. (2:47)
Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) contains an expanded reading in verse 1, “And it happened in those days of the fulfillment of the day of Pentecost, they all were together on the same, and see! It happened” (kaí egéneto en taís hemérais ekeínais tou synpleroústhai tén heméran tés pentecostés hónton autón pánton epí tó autó, kaí eidoú egéneto). Instead of indicating that all were “together” [homoú], other manuscripts say that all were in “agreement” (homothymadón).
In verse 5, fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus does not include the proper noun “Jews,” but its inclusion has extensive manuscript support.
Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis), in verse 6, indicates that the “speaking” was in the tongues or languages of the multitude.
The Greek word exístemi (in verse 7) can mean “amaze,” “astound,” and “confuse.” This term can denote one’s coming to be in a state where one simply cannot make sense of what is happening. According to a number of manuscripts, “all” were astounded, but the superior manuscript evidence suggests that “all” is not original. Also in this verse, a number of manuscripts (with reference to the speaking) add, “to one another” (prós allélous).
Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) expands the text of verse 12, indicating that the astonishment and bewilderment was “about what had occurred” (epí tó gegonóti).
The reference in verse 13 to “new wine,” “must,” “sweet wine,” or “sweet new wine” (gleúkos) has puzzled some, for it was then too early for the grape harvest to begin. Among the scrolls discovered in the Dead Sea area, “The Temple Scroll” is regarded by some as providing a possible explanation. Besides the “festival of weeks” in the third month (Sivan; mid-May to mid-June), this scroll indicates that there were two other “pentecosts,” the “festival of new wine” in the fifth month (Ab, mid-July to mid-August), and the “festival of new oil” in the latter part of the six month (Elul, mid-August to mid-September). Based on “The Temple Scroll,” some have concluded that Luke mistakenly worded the question according to the later “pentecost.” Nothing in the biblical record, however, provides any corroborating evidence about this, and there really is no reason for suggesting an error in a quotation that is merely an expression of mockery.
The quotation in verses 17 through 21 basically corresponds to the reading of the Septuagint, which closely follows the preserved Hebrew text. The text of fourth-century Codex Vaticanus is nearly identical to the wording of the Septuagint, but there are more differences in the reading of fifth-century Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis). Like the Hebrew text and the Septuagint, Codex Vaticanus (in verse 17) says “after these things” (not “in the last days”). Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) reads “Lord” instead of “God,” and says “their sons and their daughters” (not “your sons and your daughters”). In connection with the “young men” and the “elders,” Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) omits the pronoun “your.” Unlike the quotation in Acts, the Hebrew text and the Septuagint first mention the elders and then the young men.
In verse 18, Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) omits the words “in those days” and also “and will prophesy.” Both the Hebrew text and the Septuagint say “in those days,” but not “and will prophesy.”
Both the Hebrew text and the Septuagint reading of Joel do not include the words “above” and “below.” Additionally, there is no mention of “signs” in connection with the earth. Portents applies to both heaven and earth.
In verse 19, Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) omits “blood and fire and smoky vapor,” which omission appears to be a scribal error.
In verse 20, the omission of “and notable” (kaí epiphané) in fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus and fifth-century Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) is commonly attributed to scribal error. The words are found in the Septuagint and one of the oldest extant Greek manuscripts of Acts (P74) and numerous others.
Many of the readings in Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) seem to be deliberate scribal changes, making the application to the pouring out of the spirit apply in a general sense (instead of as the words were originally written to the Israelites).
In verse 25, a number of manuscripts, including fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus and fifth-century Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis), read “my Lord.”
The text of Acts 2:25-28 and the words of the Septuagint (Psalm 15:8-11 [16:8-11] are the same, the exception being one minor spelling difference that involves only one letter.
In verse 30, a number of manuscripts contain an expanded text indicating that God would raise Christ to sit on David’s throne.
The entire multitude could, of course, not have spoken to the apostles, but the question that is found in verse 37 reflects the concern of those who responded to Peter’s words. Later copyists appear to have introduced changes in the text that are more explicit. Instead of referring to those who “heard” or “listened,” the expanded text of Codex Bezae (Cantabrigiensis) mentions all who had assembled and listened. The original text of this codex is then specific in indicating that some among the assembled listeners (certain ones from them [tines ex autón]) raised the question.