The Birth of the Church: Acts 2:1-3.
The book of Acts is the birth story of the church. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the gospel is made available to all nations and all languages. When the disciples were together in one place in Jerusalem suddenly they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak (2:4). The descent of the Spirit on the apostles is really the birth story of all who are in Christ. The Old Testament Pentecost occurred 50 days after Israel left Egypt (Leviticus 23). It was a harvest festival. The New Testament Pentecost occurred 50 days after Christ had risen from the dead. Pentecost means fiftieth and celebrated fifty days after the Feast of the First fruits. Passover is the picture of Christ’s death (1 Cor 5:7). The Feast of the First-fruits speaks of Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-23). Fifty days after the Feast of the First-fruits was the feast of Pentecost (Lev 23). Pentecost celebrated the birth of the nation of Israel (Ex 19:5). While Old Testament Pentecost witnessed the slaying of 3000 souls but the New Testament Pentecost witnessed the salvation of 3000 souls. The Pentecost was a once for all event that will not be repeated. We should not expect another Pentecost any more than we would ask for another Calvary. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was given only to a selected few to perform specific tasks. But in the church the Holy Spirit is given to all believers (Rom 8:9). The Holy Spirit does not draw attention to Himself but to Christ. The coming of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by three manifestations. It was like rushing wind and like divided tongue as of fire, and praising God in other languages. At Pentecost the curse of Babel begins to unravel. The gospel is available to all nations and all languages. The age of grace has begun. The wind is symbolic of the Spirit of God (Ezekiel 37:5-9). The fire and wind make a graphic picture of the coming of the Spirit of God (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16). The filling of the Spirit was for service (Ephesians 5: 18).
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:4-13.
The Holy Spirit could not have come upon the disciples before Christ was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven (John 7:37-39). At Pentecost believers are baptized into the spiritual body of Christ, the church (1 Cor 12:13). When Christ was raised from the dead and sat at the right hand of God, the Holy Spirit was pour out on the apostles. Thus the church came into being. The church is made up of Jews and gentiles. To show that there is no difference between them, the sign gift of tongue was given. Jews from 17 nationalities were there to celebrate the feast. The gift of tongue enabled them to hear the word of God in their own language (2:6). This was God’s timing to reverse what had happened in Genesis 11. Peter preached the first sermon which marked the birth of the church in Jerusalem through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There is considerable difference of view among believers concerning this subject. Some consider baptism, a second blessing of the Holy Spirit that makes them more spiritual. There is no scriptural support for such view. Some accused those who spoke in tongues as being drunk. God has not given us the Spirit of fear but power, love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7). The Holy Spirit is the only one who can unite us as the body of Christ.
Peter Preaches to the Crowd: Acts 2:14-36.
Peter standing with the eleven addressed the crowd. How important to have unity of spirit in the ministry! Peter made it clear that it is not a custom among Israel to drink in the early morning hours. He began his sermon with a reference to the Old Testament prophet Joel that in the last days, God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh-men and women, young and old, Jews and Gentiles (2:12-14). According to Peter the last days have begun. He preached that “Christ’s death and resurrection was according to the determined council and foreknowledge of God’. But Jews unknowingly put him to death. But God raised Jesus from the dead, for death could not keep Him in its grip. Peter supports his message by quoting from Psalm 16:8-11. David was writing about the Christ because his prophecy did not find its fulfillment in David, for his body is buried still in a sepulcher. Christ is glorified and exalted to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Peter concluded his message by saying that “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this, God had made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ” (2:36). The greatest crime Israel has committed was crucifying their Messiah. Peter supported his message from the Old Testament (Psalm 110:1). He preached that Jesus is Lord and he is the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel (2:29-36). Though they crucified Jesus, God raised him from the dead. God highly exalted Jesus and given the church the Holy Spirit (2:33). Preaching of the gospel will lead people to repentance and faith.
What shall we do? Acts 2:37-40.
Because of their rejection of Jesus and crucifixion, people were "cut to the hear" People asked Peter “What shall we do?” When God is at work, people will be convicted of their sin and drawn to Christ. Peter said “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. Despite their original sin, those who repented and identified with Christ were forgiven. On that day 3000 people were saved. They were baptized and added to the church. The result of repentance and faith in Christ made them to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 is one of the misunderstood verse in the Bible. Some link this verse to their baptismal regeneration theory. Bible does not teach that salvation is dependent on baptism (1 Cor 1:17). Peter quoted from Joel 2:28-32. Here we see what God had promised through His prophets. Those who turn from sin and identify with Christ will be saved. True repentance brings changes in attitude and actions (Isaiah 55:6-7). Baptism symbolizes our identification with Christ in his death and resurrection. Those who put their trust in Christ for the remission of sins will be saved. How wonderful to be forgiven of Sin (1 John 1:7). God graciously extends this promise to all who are far and near. Gospel is not confined by ethnic boundaries. None are so far removed that God cannot save them. They are the new creation in Christ Jesus and partakers of his divine nature (John 3:5; 2 Cor 5:17; (1 Pet 1:4; Titus 3:5). This promise is available to all who trust in Christ (2:39).
Early Church Gathering: Acts 2:41-47.
Christ's righteousness is what provides our right standing before God. The Holy Spirit brings forth a devotion to the apostle's teaching, fellowship, worship and prayer in the the early church. They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching, in fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers. They were devoted to fellowship and sharing burdens with one another. Though believers retained rights over their property, they cared for one another and "had all things in common". The early church was committed to the teaching of the apostles. Neglecting the sound teaching of the scripture makes us spiritually weak and ineffective in Christian life (Heb: 10:24, 25). Christian fellowship is more than being together. It means “having in common”. The early believers shared material goods according to their needs. Their sharing was motivated by love (2 Cor 9). The breaking of bread refers to regular meals and at the end, remembering the death of Christ by observing the Lord’s Supper (20:7). The corporate worship and prayer allowed believers to express their thanks to God and to present their request before God as a body. It was a witnessing and a growing church. Because of the unity and love among them, they enjoyed the goodwill of all people. The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (2:47). On the day of Pentecost 3000 people were saved and their number increased daily (5:14). Christ is building the church with those who are saved. Pray that our church would follow this example. The early church was a growing church, strengthened in the faith and increasing in numbers daily (16:5).